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  #61  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 3:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug View Post
IKEA also represents disposable culture at its worst, .
Which is very ironic when you consider how it's widely considered an enlightened, cool, worldly hipster choice to make for furnishings.
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  #62  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 3:49 PM
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Originally Posted by MonctonRad View Post
Indeed - the ties that bind are rapidly disappearing. It used to be so easy to cross the border to find work. Many people used to do in in the late 1800s and early part of the 1900s.

My own mother was born in Rumford ME in 1917. My grandfather moved down there to work in the pulp mill.

The family ties are disappearing. The feel of our cities are different (ours are better). The cultural and ethnic differences are increasing with time (more south and east Asians in Canada, more blacks and Hispanics in the States). Our political philosophies and the nature of our social welfare states is becoming entirely dissimilar - we are nordic Europe, they are a world unto their own.

Only the business ties really remain to bind Canada and the US together.........
These are all good points.

But the gradual disappearance of family ties has arguably been replaced with a different type of proximity.

My parents who are in their 70s had cousins who were Americans due to the easy work-related migration you are referring to. When border controls and paperwork tightened up in the 1960s many in the subsequent generations including mine grew up without Americans cousins, or at least American family members they were close to.

But even so, due to TV, movies, magazines and books, I had the U.S. all figured out (or at least I thought I did) before I ever set foot there and spoke to a live American. In some ways I probably knew more about the U.S. than I knew about Canada - and I was far from the only one. In spite of the relative lack of close American family members, I was significantly more Americanized than my parents were - especially for one of my parents who grew up in a 100% francophone Acadian town in New Brunswick.

Today's generations are probably quite similar. They're paradoxically closer than ever to Americans in many ways in spite of the growing disconnect you're referring to.
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  #63  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 4:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
Which is very ironic when you consider how it's widely considered an enlightened, cool, worldly hipster choice to make for furnishings.
It's a big oversimplification to say that less durable stuff is always worse. What really matters is the cost amortized over the lifetime of the item. Environmental impact is hard to figure out and might be huge or very low for everyday items. Amount of material sent to a landfill or to be recycled isn't necessarily that important; it all depends on what you are throwing out.

In a restaurant setting for example it's not always clear that a ceramic plate is going to be more cost effective or better for the environment than a paper plate. The ceramic plates can be used many times but they cost a lot more and are regularly broken or lost. Somebody was telling me a while ago that for fountain pop served in a glass, the biggest expense is the glass. It worked out to something like 12 cents per use for them.

I really doubt that the typical Ashley furniture item is a family heirloom. I've got some IKEA things that are about 12 years old at this point and cost probably 1/4 or less what they would have somewhere else. It didn't make any sense at all for me to buy the more expensive version 12 years ago, and I am not sure it does now. I have some nicer furniture too but I'm pretty selective about where and when I buy that stuff; I don't consider mid-range big box stores to be worth it most of the time. Usually they use similar construction methods to IKEA, like screws instead of joinery.
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  #64  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 4:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
But even so, due to TV, movies, magazines and books, I had the U.S. all figured out (or at least I thought I did) before I ever set foot there and spoke to a live American. In some ways I probably knew more about the U.S. than I knew about Canada - and I was far from the only one. In spite of the relative lack of close American family members, I was significantly more Americanized than my parents were - especially for one of my parents who grew up in a 100% francophone Acadian town in New Brunswick.

Today's generations are probably quite similar. They're paradoxically closer than ever to Americans in many ways in spite of the growing disconnect you're referring to.
Yes! This is my experience as well and what I was alluding to in my longer post a couple of pages back.

To carry it forward to today and for the immediate future, this familiarity can also have the effect of breeding contempt (Trumpism seems to be a good example that I keep coming back to) that helps to drive us away from 'becoming American' and drives us towards embracing our perceived Canadian values (or at least what we want them to be) even further.

Great topic, by the way. It has been the most interesting read on this forum in a long time.
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  #65  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 4:28 PM
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The American ethos is to live large and boldly. I don’t think IKEA’s Calvinist minimalism and frugality fit with that very well. The US market is also highly competitive, as evidenced by the Canadian category-killer retailers that have flopped down there ... Canadian Tire, Future Shop, even Tim Hortons to an extent.
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  #66  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 4:30 PM
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Originally Posted by MTLskyline View Post
Thinking about it more, I do not think you are far off, however, I would say the US is only part of it.

It's clear that Anglo-Canada would not exist as is if it wasn't for the initial wave of Loyalist immigrants. They established the entity of English Canada.

However, I would say Anglo-Canada has another parent: Scotland. Anglo-Canada had a disproportionate amount of Scottish influence compared to say the US or Australia, both of which had much more English (from England) influence than Canada.

The people traditionally thought of as "Les Anglais" in Quebec were actually largely Scots. Think of some of the prominent anglo Montreal establishment names from the 19th century, and it is clear they were disproportionately Scottish: McGill, McTavish, Drummond, Redpath, etc And the English that were in Quebec were probably more likely of Loyalist background as opposed to immigrants directly from England (although the Molsons are an exception).

Interestingly, nowadays, there are probably just as many Quebec francophones of Scottish background as Quebec anglophones.
I’d propose a combination of Scotland, Ireland and the U.S. as “French” Canada’s true mother countries.
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  #67  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 4:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy6 View Post
The American ethos is to live large and boldly. I don’t think IKEA’s Calvinist minimalism and frugality fit with that very well. The US market is also highly competitive, as evidenced by the Canadian category-killer retailers that have flopped down there ... Canadian Tire, Future Shop, even Tim Hortons to an extent.
I visited some friends in the Netherlands a while ago who live in a modern suburban area. It was eerily similar to where I live in the Vancouver area, and any quasi-suburban development pod near the SkyTrain. Even the inside of their place was basically the same, simple and modern.

Meanwhile in Seattle most people I know live in tract housing and own way more stuff, multiple giant vehicles, etc.

I don't think I would want the tract housing even if it were affordable here. I suspect a lot of younger Canadians are used to apartment living and don't consider ownership of a large house to be a major aspiration.
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  #68  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 5:16 PM
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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
I visited some friends in the Netherlands a while ago who live in a modern suburban area. It was eerily similar to where I live in the Vancouver area, and any quasi-suburban development pod near the SkyTrain. Even the inside of their place was basically the same, simple and modern.

Meanwhile in Seattle most people I know live in tract housing and own way more stuff, multiple giant vehicles, etc.

I don't think I would want the tract housing even if it were affordable here. I suspect a lot of younger Canadians are used to apartment living and don't consider ownership of a large house to be a major aspiration.
Also, IKEA is a good fit with the fact that many Canadians like to fashion themselves as pseudo-Scandinavian North Americans. It's a popular notion especially in bien-pensant circles.
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  #69  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 5:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
Also, IKEA is a good fit with the fact that many Canadians like to fashion themselves as pseudo-Scandinavian North Americans. It's a popular notion especially in bien-pensant circles.
“Many”?

What percent of Ikea Canada’s $2.4 billion in sales do you think come from pseudo-Scandinavian poseurs?
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  #70  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 5:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
That's not controversial - it's unquestionably true.

But it's not true of the OP (me) and I am pretty much the only francophone who has posted on this thread.

Could it be that you're trying to divert attention from an interesting topic that makes you uncomfortable?
Nope doesn't make me uncomfortable: I'm half American with roots going back to the 1600s. However I mostly listen to British & European music (baroque, trance, hiphop), read English car magazines, look at UK and European architectural forums on SSC, follow UK and NI politics. I didn't grow up watching TV so American pop culture references are meaningless to me; I rarely watch Hollywood movies; I recently signed up for Amazon Prime Videos to watch the Grand Tour (English show) vs my gf who watches American trash on Netflix. I mostly read English, Scottish and Irish writers and poets.
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  #71  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 6:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
Also, IKEA is a good fit with the fact that many Canadians like to fashion themselves as pseudo-Scandinavian North Americans. It's a popular notion especially in bien-pensant circles.
Well, there is the issue that Canadian housing is generally smaller than American housing. Regardless of where you are on the socioeconomic status totem pole in Canada, chances are your American counterparts have more room. So I'd say there is a practical use for that compact Swedish-designed furniture.
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  #72  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 6:52 PM
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Originally Posted by hipster duck View Post
What percent of Ikea Canada’s $2.4 billion in sales do you think come from pseudo-Scandinavian poseurs?
If we look at just coffee tables, IKEA has the ultra crappy yet simple and OK looking cardboard and veneer one for $60 or so, and a cheap pine one for $150. Or you can go to a mid-range place and pay $500 for something of unknown quality, or a nicer chain or custom place and pay $900+ for something that is pretty likely to be well-made.

If you're a student and you need a coffee table but you're not sure where you're going to live next year, the $50 option is great and not offered anywhere else. For everybody else the $150 option is pretty attractive; you are very likely to get $150 of utility out of it whereas the $500 or $900 options are unclear. The $900 one has to last 6x as long and/or be more functional or better looking to be worth it.
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  #73  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 6:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug View Post
IKEA also represents disposable culture at its worst, so the brand's relative lack of success in the US is somewhat surprising. I have noticed that Americans tend to spend big on high quality (not necessarily high design) furniture and keep it for a long time. Houses tend to be bigger and moving costs lower.
Actually, does anybody buy furniture with the intentions of throwing it out later? I think most people buy what they can afford, and sell, pass down, or donate the furniture when they upgrade, move or whatever. So the furniture continues to have a life even when the original buyer no longer has it.

My impression of IKEA stuff is that the money saving is mostly due to their business model of the customer taking it home and assembling it themselves. No flash, pomp or circumstance, just the basics.

I haven't bought a huge number of things from IKEA but I can say that the chair I bought to use at the computer desk is very good quality. Sturdily designed, made of solid hardwood (no particleboard, etc.), no creaks or flexing/movement, and attractive in appearance. It should prove to be quite durable over the years, I think. I haven't examined their other furniture pieces closely, so my experience is limited.

And, FWIW, most of the furniture I've seen at places like Ashley tend to be largely constructed of particle board, with some sort of veneer to make it look like 'real wood'. I can't say that I've seen the highest quality at the mainstream furniture stores - in fact this would more fit my definition of throw away furniture, since once it breaks or degrades, it's difficult to repair, and almost not worth the effort.
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  #74  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 7:13 PM
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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
I visited some friends in the Netherlands a while ago who live in a modern suburban area. It was eerily similar to where I live in the Vancouver area, and any quasi-suburban development pod near the SkyTrain. Even the inside of their place was basically the same, simple and modern.

Meanwhile in Seattle most people I know live in tract housing and own way more stuff, multiple giant vehicles, etc.

I don't think I would want the tract housing even if it were affordable here. I suspect a lot of younger Canadians are used to apartment living and don't consider ownership of a large house to be a major aspiration.
I suspect many younger Canadians have just given up on the idea of owning a house and are resigned to apartment living.
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  #75  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 7:21 PM
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Originally Posted by hipster duck View Post
“Many”?

What percent of Ikea Canada’s $2.4 billion in sales do you think come from pseudo-Scandinavian poseurs?
Obviously not that many but my point was more that it's a trait that's there subtly in the fine print of Canada's self-image.
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  #76  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 7:23 PM
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I suspect many younger Canadians have just given up on the idea of owning a house and are resigned to apartment living.
Younger Canadians in the central parts of Toronto and Vancouver, maybe... but in the rest of the country it's business as usual.
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  #77  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 7:48 PM
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I suspect many younger Canadians have just given up on the idea of owning a house and are resigned to apartment living.
Part of it I guess is that for a certain cohort in Vancouver at least, any life plans involving owning a house have already been derailed. Does it make sense to take on debt to move from a condo to a house when you're 40 or 50 years old? Not unless you really really want a house.

I own a condo and it's hard to imagine a scenario where it would make sense to upgrade my housing just for the sake of it. Even a modest upgrade from a 2 BR condo is very expensive in metro Vancouver.

The apartment thing doesn't bother me so much and I don't think we can have high immigration, the ALR, and detached houses for everyone. But we should be able to have 1,500 square foot 3 BR condos in a good area that don't cost $1M+. Unfortunately, Vancouver has affirmed over and over that artificially maintaining stable detached housing neighbourhoods for Baby Boomers is much more important than letting the market provide more than 400 square foot per person for middle class younger people.
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  #78  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 7:58 PM
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Originally Posted by OldDartmouthMark View Post
Yes! This is my experience as well and what I was alluding to in my longer post a couple of pages back.

To carry it forward to today and for the immediate future, this familiarity can also have the effect of breeding contempt (Trumpism seems to be a good example that I keep coming back to) that helps to drive us away from 'becoming American' and drives us towards embracing our perceived Canadian values (or at least what we want them to be) even further.

Great topic, by the way. It has been the most interesting read on this forum in a long time.
I did not travel to the U.S. with my family until I was well past the age of 10. As i was an early bloomer with lots of societal awareness even as a very young teen I was very observant already.

As I mentioned in another post I'd had many years of exposure to U.S. culture at that point so arriving in the U.S. was kind of like stepping into the TV set.

My kids have had the experience of foreign travel for as long as they can remember so the U.S. and other foreign countries have just been "as they are" for them and there weren't really any epiphany or eureka moments for them when they visited. Given their age back then and the absence of preconceived notions and expectations.
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  #79  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 8:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
I did not travel to the U.S. with my family until I was well past the age of 10. As i was an early bloomer with lots of societal awareness even as a very young teen I was very observant already.

As I mentioned in another post I'd had many years of exposure to U.S. culture at that point so arriving in the U.S. was kind of like stepping into the TV set.

My kids have had the experience of foreign travel for as long as they can remember so the U.S. and other foreign countries have just been "as they are" for them and there weren't really any epiphany or eureka moments for them when they visited. Given their age back then and the absence of preconceived notions and expectations.
Totally off topic, but this reminds me of a story I read years ago of an local inner city school that took the kids on a school trip to the US... for most of the kids, some of whom were from other countries, it was their first time leaving Canada. The article mentioned that some of the kids expressed disappointment when they entered the US and they were met by North Dakota wheatfields that didn't look any different from Manitoba instead of the big NYC-style urban skyscraper scene that they were expecting... a lot was learned on that day
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  #80  
Old Posted Oct 16, 2019, 8:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy6 View Post
I’d propose a combination of Scotland, Ireland and the U.S. as “French” Canada’s true mother countries.
Only institutionally, and even so really if we're talking about Quebec institutionally it's kind of a Frankenstein's monster of UK, US, (Anglo-)Canadian, French, other European and homegrown structures.

Socio-culturally even though they are present I'd agree, there is no way Scottish, Irish or US influences outstrip French-derived ones.
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