I’ve talked before about why New Zealand didn’t become a part of Australia despite the two nations sharing a history, and I think few nations could claim to be as close as our two ANZAC cousins. But there are two other Nations that come to mind, who were once part of the British Empire, who share a border, and also didn’t integrate on their independence.
These are of cause the United States of America and Canada. So to answer why Canada is not part of the United States, I’ve invited Tristan, a Canadian, a historian, and a YouTuber from the channel Step Back History to tell us the story…
Hey folks, Why Canada isn’t part of America is actually an interesting tale that was on the fence until as recently as the late 19th century.
However, the story must begin somewhere, and first we must set the stage.
In the 1750s, only 20-some years before the American revolution, what would become canada was split between the British Hudson’s Bay company, Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, and the Majority being part of New France.
What did America look like? Well as we know, they were the 13 colonies, spanning from Maine down to the east coast to the border with New Spain in Florida.
Most of the population was between Massachusetts and Virginia. There was actually quite a bit of uncolonized lands separating these colonists from the English speakers hiding up in what would become Canada, meaning there was less of a shared identity between them.
In 1760, after the famous Seven Years War, or to the American’s the French Indian War, much of that French territory that would become Canada was handed over to the British. Some of the French colonial elite left, but most were actually content to work under British rule as long as they could speak French, and stay Catholic. Though if you are Quebecois, you actually would see this as the beginning of Anglo rule over the French Canadians. It’s still quite an issue here.
The British made an agreement with the French Canadians in 1774 called the Quebec act. This allowed: civil code and common law to exist side by side; it entrenched the semi-feudal French seigneurial system; and it legalized the Catholic tithe to Catholics in Quebec.
Importantly for this story, however, is that a lot of land previously allocated to Native Americans, was then shifted to Quebec in an effort to streamline moving furs out of the St. Lawrence river.
The American colonists, who long desired to expand themselves into this territory, got pretty mad about it. If you know a bit of the story of the American Revolution, the Quebec act is one of the quote “Insufferable Acts” that in part triggered the American Revolution.
What this means though, is that Quebec, the largest colony in modern Canada at the time, was Catholic, and largely did not speak English.
After the Seven Years War, many Americans even considered them rivals, or enemies, and not part of this growing American identity. That being said during the American War of Independence, and before he defected to the British, Benedict Arnold did try to take Quebec. The American’s took Montreal, and tried to siege Quebec City. Then spring came and they gave up on the endeavour.
The Americans allied with France during the war, but neither ally wanted to see the other take Quebec, so the issue was largely dropped.
The war effort to put down the revolution, actually brought a lot of money into Canada, and the tariff protections the New Englanders gave up to fight the war, were quite good for the Canadian economy as well. Business, especially the fur business, was booming with the 13 colonies in rebellion. They saw that their economic future relied on protection, and integration into the British mercantile
empire, and so felt no desire to leave it.
Lastly I must mention that Canada then saw an influx of refugees after the American Revolution. These refugees were mostly the loyalists who did not want to stay in the United States. You can imagine they brought a lot of British patriotism with them.
Canada then soon grew into its own colony, with its own identity. They banned slavery pretty early on, and had a lot of friction with the U.S. over their position as the end of the underground railroad. They quickly established distinct, and different identities.
Many Canadians today speculate that in many ways our culture’s defined by how not-America we can be.
One quick footnote. The US did try to conquer Canada once. Amongst a series of other issues, the British Empire found itself rather distracted by the war with Napoleon and the U.S. smelled opportunity. They used a rhetoric of manifest destiny, claiming that Canada was theirs by right. It didn’t help that the British were flat out capturing American soldiers into the royal navy and secretly giving weapons to Native American groups resisting U.S. expansion.
In 1812, the U.S. invaded Canada, and after a number of attempts was pushed back by Canadian militias, and blockaded by British fleets. It resulted in a Canadian deployment pushing all the way down to Washington DC. The peace treaty ended the idea of Canada being Americans in waiting basically for the last 200 plus years.
The being said, I do not think that two countries are as close as Canada and the United States.
We maintain the world’s largest undefended border, are each other’s largest trading partners, and have a pretty long history of peace and prosperity between us. Also we gave the U.S. most of its best musicians and comedians.
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