Canada in the World


A US Satellite?
Cultural Colony
Economic Integration
Canada in the world today

The history of Canada is an international history. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Canada was at the heart of the conflict between France and England for possession of North America and there were constant conflicts and skirmishes between the English colonies on the Atlantic coast and the French colonies in Acadia and the St Lawrence valley. Later Canada was very involved in the American revolution, with two major uncertainties: would Canada join the rebellion? Would it be awarded to the United States in the peace treaty? Finally Canada remained part of the British Empire, but the arrival of loyalists from the United States doubled its population and changed its nature forever, marking the true beginning of English Canada.


In the 19th century, Canada's development was enormously influenced by its ties to Britain but also by its key interaction with the United States. For most of the century, the question of whether Canada would become an American territory remained valid, as illustrated by the War of 1812 and the very serious threat of the 1860s, which contributed to the drive towards Confederation.


In the 20th century, Canada began interacting with the world as an adult nation. As part of the British Empire and then the British Commonwealth, it participated in both world wars and thus gained international recognition and respect. The two world wars symbolized the coming of age of Canada and the end of the British period. But WW2 also accentuated the drift into the American orbit. The year 1940 was highly symbolic of this evolution, with the British Empire in full retreat at Dunkirk while Canada and the US were establishing a joint permanent defence council for North America. In the years that followed, many Canadians felt that their country was becoming a satellite of the United States. This was far more dangerous than the British influence, because historically Canadian identity had been built on resistance to American pressure and a desire to differentiate between the two countries. Now Canada was coming under American influence militarily, culturally, and economically. To counteract the overwhelming American influence, Canada adopted a growing internationalist stand, getting involved into many multilateral organizations and projects. But while Canada has gained in confidence since the 1960s, the relations with the US remain crucial.


For updated information on Canada and US-Canadian relations, go to http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2089.htm