Is Canada more similar to US or Europe?

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In terms of culture, politics etc.....I think many Americans have this idea that Canada is some sort of Europeanized country but to me, it seems that Canada is much more similar to the U.S. Maybe Quebec is an exception but certainly no can argue that Alberta is like Europe! I live in Canada but never travelled to the US so I can't make the comparison. Neither I have been to Europe.
 

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  • #2
lisab
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Canada is a huge country, of course, and my experience there is rather limited. But I've found the culture in Alberta is close to that of the US West - that rugged individualism. (They generally have harsher winters though :biggrin:.)
 
  • #3
lisab
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Which province are you in, kraphysics?
 
  • #4
mege
Some quick background on me - I grew up in Michigan (mostly in the UP, but recently spent a few years in Detroit). My maternal grandparents were born in Canada, moved to the US early on, and maintained dual citizenship until their deaths in the 90s. I hope I can bring a unique perspective to the discussion (also, some friends and I just had this exact same conversation!).

I feel Canada is much more like a European country than the US because of it's lack of cultural diversity. European countries are generally more culturally homogeneous and stable. While Canada does have it's minorities and immigrant populations, my perception is that Canada is much more integrated as a singular 'Canadian culture' - the US just fails to culturally assimilate it's population when compared to Canada (and Europe). I believe that the relatively homogeneous nature of Canada puts it more in line with a European country than the US.
 
  • #5
cepheid
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I feel Canada is much more like a European country than the US because of it's lack of cultural diversity. European countries are generally more culturally homogeneous and stable. While Canada does have it's minorities and immigrant populations, my perception is that Canada is much more integrated as a singular 'Canadian culture' - the US just fails to culturally assimilate it's population when compared to Canada (and Europe). I believe that the relatively homogeneous nature of Canada puts it more in line with a European country than the US.
Not...even...close.

The typical phrase that is used to describe Canada is as a 'mosaic', and that phrase is used in direct contrast to the idea of the US's 'melting pot'. I would say that the degree to which various ethnic groups are able to retain their identity and traditions while being Canadian is something that is unique to the Canadian experience. I've heard Canada cited as one of the world's most truly multicultural societies, and I've read articles (at least 5 to 10 years ago now) talking about how Toronto was rapidly becoming one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities (I live there and it also agrees with my direct experience). Now you might argue that Toronto is an exception since most immigrants end up there, but I don't see how you could possibly have lived in any major Canadian city like Vancouver, Edmonton (where I grew up), or Calgary to name a few, and still be saying what you are saying. The lack of homogeneity (a.k.a. diversity) is clearly evident in all of those places. I remember going to Heritage Days growing up and seeing pavilions for countless different nations and cultural groups offering traditional food, wares, and arts/dancing etc. I went to a high school in which white people were the visible minority.

The other thing about your statement that was VERY puzzling to me was this idea that people assimilate into "Canadian culture." Nobody in Canada knows what that is! It's always been vague and nebulous. The only certain aspect of the Canadian identity, as far as I can tell, is the lack of a strong and clearly-defined national identity. There are just so many different communities that make up the tapestry of our society. Most Canadians, when asked about their culture, are hard pressed to describe or define it other than to express the universal notion that it is "different from American culture."

I didn't mean to sound defensive, but in my direct experience as a Canadian born to immigrant parents and even growing up in Alberta, what you are saying is so far off the mark that it is almost exactly false, and it also runs contrary anything I've ever heard anyone say about Canadian society.

For the sake of being somewhat on-topic: Canada is much more similar to the US than it is to any European country.
EDIT: with the possible exception of Québec, as has been noted. Unfortunately, Québec has also been in the news a few times for somewhat insular policies and a perceived lack of religious tolerance in some specific instances, but let's not get into that. They are, as they so love to remind everyone, a "distinct society" within Canada, and I acknowledge that if any place suffers from a tendency to want to assimilate outsiders into that society, it would be there.
 
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  • #6
DaveC426913
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I feel Canada is much more like a European country than the US because of it's lack of cultural diversity. European countries are generally more culturally homogeneous and stable. While Canada does have it's minorities and immigrant populations, my perception is that Canada is much more integrated as a singular 'Canadian culture' - the US just fails to culturally assimilate it's population when compared to Canada (and Europe). I believe that the relatively homogeneous nature of Canada puts it more in line with a European country than the US.
I would never have thought I would hear someone say that the US is culturally diverse and Canada is homogenous.

Will wonders never cease.
 
  • #7
ideasrule
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I would never have thought I would hear someone say that the US is culturally diverse and Canada is homogenous.

Will wonders never cease.
This is exactly what I thought after reading mege's post. I'm a Canadian who's lived in Toronto for 10 years and in the US for the past year. More than anything else, I've always associated "Canadian culture" with its cultural mosaic and respect for diversity. This is certainly the ideology that every school I've been to has tried to embrace. This isn't surprising--in 5 out of the 6 Canadian schools I've been to, from elementary to high school, whites were in the minority. In all 6, WASPs were certainly in the extreme minority. Admittedly, I lived in Toronto, the most multicultural city in Canada, but all of the large cities are popular targets for immigrants. I suspect you'd find a similar attitude towards other cultures in most of them.

As for the original post, Canada is certainly more similar to Europe than the US. If nothing else, it's far more liberal than the US, especially socially. Same-sex marriage is legal countrywide. Abortion is legal countrywide with no term restriction. In the last election, Stephen Harper declared that he would not let anybody challenge the status quo on either issue if he were elected. Imagine what would happen if a Republican presidential nominee ever takes this kind of position! Canada is also fiscally "left" of the US, but considering that the US was one of the few democratic countries entering the 21st century without free health care, that's not hard to accomplish.
 
  • #8
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Canada has its own unique culture, you cannot describe it using US or Europe culture.

And, I love Canada :blushing:
 
  • #9
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Which province are you in, kraphysics?
I'm originally from Alberta. I find it hard to relate to eastern canadians when they say albertans are like rednecks. I think that is an exaggeration. True, we have conservative government for over 40 years straight but I find we are slightly to left of American politics.

Yea we do have really harsh winters. And the best part about it is we have never gotten a snowday EVER no matter how cold it is. And it is -40 Celsius often in winter with heavy snow storms. I have come to hate people who have snowdays in mild weather.
 
  • #10
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I would never have thought I would hear someone say that the US is culturally diverse and Canada is homogenous.

Will wonders never cease.
I agree with you. America is much more homogenous and integrated in a sense than is Canada. Ofcourse, this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I think in some ways it is positive.
 
  • #11
cristo
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Given the way they riot over sporting events, I'd say Canada was very similar to Europe!
 
  • #12
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Given the way they riot over sporting events, I'd say Canada was very similar to Europe!
this was bound to happen. those stupid hooligans have really destroyed canada's reputation.
 
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  • #13
DaveC426913
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this was bound to happen.
Why?

those stupid vanvouverites have really destroyed canada's reputation.
I assume you misspoke. What you meant to say was: those stupid criminals.

Blaming the riots on "Vancouverites" is like blaming 9/11 on "Muslims".

*Oh I went there!*
 
  • #14
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Why?



I assume you misspoke. What you meant to say was: those stupid criminals.

Blaming the riots on "Vancouverites" is like blaming 9/11 on "Muslims".

*Oh I went there!*
yea i misspoke. sorry english is not my first language. i meant those hooligans.
when i said "it was bound to happen", i meant after the riots, people were likely to take notice and think of canada in this manner.


Btw DaveC426913, since you are from eastern canada(ontario), do you know why eastern canadians think albertans are rednecks?
 
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  • #15
mege
This is exactly what I thought after reading mege's post. I'm a Canadian who's lived in Toronto for 10 years and in the US for the past year. More than anything else, I've always associated "Canadian culture" with its cultural mosaic and respect for diversity. This is certainly the ideology that every school I've been to has tried to embrace. This isn't surprising--in 5 out of the 6 Canadian schools I've been to, from elementary to high school, whites were in the minority. In all 6, WASPs were certainly in the extreme minority. Admittedly, I lived in Toronto, the most multicultural city in Canada, but all of the large cities are popular targets for immigrants. I suspect you'd find a similar attitude towards other cultures in most of them.

As for the original post, Canada is certainly more similar to Europe than the US. If nothing else, it's far more liberal than the US, especially socially. Same-sex marriage is legal countrywide. Abortion is legal countrywide with no term restriction. In the last election, Stephen Harper declared that he would not let anybody challenge the status quo on either issue if he were elected. Imagine what would happen if a Republican presidential nominee ever takes this kind of position! Canada is also fiscally "left" of the US, but considering that the US was one of the few democratic countries entering the 21st century without free health care, that's not hard to accomplish.
Perhaps homogeneous wasn't the right word without the proper explaination, I shortened parts of my post originally in favor of brevity and I see that my point was lost - so let me further explain: I view the US as culturally divisive and increasingly unmixed (I think this is a bad thing). Canada has actually turned their diversity into a singular identity of openness and mutability which does embrase the cross-cultural benefits, but as a unique identity. To use the analogy of melting pot and mosaic - I think that Canada truely is the very well stirred melting pot now and the US more of the mosaic, using even larger, more seperated pieces of glass as times go on. Canada has turned diversity into an unique singular identity while the US has basically just embraced cohabitation (not diversity). For instance (and what started this conversation I had with several friends): it's more likely to see non-US national flags in sight in Detroit than non-Canadian flags in Windsor or Toronto.
 
  • #16
Danger
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Krap;
The Albertans who post on PF are most definitely not rednecks. Here in southern Alberta, the term "redneck" is the same as "cowboy"... which in my experience translates as "biker with the brains kicked out".
I worked in a cowboy bar for 15 years or so. It was a disco when it started, but soon went into receivership and turned "western". Unfortunately, the new owner (who was from Millton, Ontario :rolleyes:) took his ideas of westernism from John Wayne movies.
I have immense respect for the working farmers and ranchers around here, as well as the captain of my pool team who trains horses and others in his line of work. It's those idiots with the 1Kg belt buckles that screw it up for the rest of society.
As for diversity, we are indeed a group of subcultures as opposed to the US idea of trying to force everyone into the Yank idea of multiculturalism.
My province of Alberta is probably the most racist one in the country, and unfortunately one of it's proponents is now in charge of our country, but that does not mean that the majority of us tolerate that ****.
When I lived somewhat east of here, people in Detroit were trying to kill my friend because he had the unmitigated audacity to marry an Irish girl. He was a music professor at Wayne State, and highly thought of in his profession... but his wife had freckles, which would not be possible with his complexion...
Needless to say, they made a happy home on our side of the border.
 
  • #17
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Canada is the 51st state. Unlike European countries, it is dynamic and changing. For instance, when I was a child, it was the 49th state. But in one respect it more like Europe. Most of the people there are foreigners.
 
  • #18
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It seems to me that this is largely a matter of perspective. As a European who has recently been in both Canada and the US, what strikes me is the similarities between those two nations, though I have some awareness of differences as well. I have been in the Okanagan Valley on both sides of the border and the similarities are obvious. On the other hand, I can see how someone from the US who has travelled both in Canada and in Europe would be struck by the contrasts with the US and similarities between Canada and Europe. In a similar way, many mainland Europeans see the British as more of a type with North America than we are with other Europeans. They probably do have a point though doubtless North Americans may not see it that way!
 
  • #19
Danger
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That's a cool observation, Ken.
 
  • #20
Chi Meson
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Let's see...

Over 30 years ago, Canada looked over the shoulder of the US Mint and said, "A one-dollar coin? That's a cool idea, eh?"

Now, they have zero problems with their polygon loonie, and went so far as to make a bimetallic "twonie," and here in the US people are still guffing about getting rid of paper $1.

So, based on numismatic data alone, Canada is more like Europe than US.
 
  • #21
cepheid
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This is exactly what I thought after reading mege's post. I'm a Canadian who's lived in Toronto for 10 years and in the US for the past year. More than anything else, I've always associated "Canadian culture" with its cultural mosaic and respect for diversity. This is certainly the ideology that every school I've been to has tried to embrace. This isn't surprising--in 5 out of the 6 Canadian schools I've been to, from elementary to high school, whites were in the minority. In all 6, WASPs were certainly in the extreme minority. Admittedly, I lived in Toronto, the most multicultural city in Canada, but all of the large cities are popular targets for immigrants. I suspect you'd find a similar attitude towards other cultures in most of them.
It's funny, I said much the same as what you said here (only much more verbosely). We seem to share the same sentiment (the difference is people bothered to read your post).

As for the original post, Canada is certainly more similar to Europe than the US. If nothing else, it's far more liberal than the US, especially socially. Same-sex marriage is legal countrywide. Abortion is legal countrywide with no term restriction. In the last election, Stephen Harper declared that he would not let anybody challenge the status quo on either issue if he were elected. Imagine what would happen if a Republican presidential nominee ever takes this kind of position! Canada is also fiscally "left" of the US, but considering that the US was one of the few democratic countries entering the 21st century without free health care, that's not hard to accomplish.
I said the opposite of what you said here, although I was thinking much more in terms of "culture" and the overall "vibe" you get from being in a Canadian city. It doesn't feel much different from being in the States, and in spite of what I said about Canadians liking to claim that Canadian culture is different from American, our pop-culture is heavily influenced by theirs. A lot of the chains/franchises/businesses are the same etc. People talk the same (as far as I can tell, although Americans seem to claim we have a "Canadian accent" -- I've never been able to pick it out and this obviously varies regionally anyway). In any case, our idioms are much the same (although we spell differently). I'm not disputing what you said about people's attitudes and politics being very different from those of Americans, I'm just saying that being in Canada, to first order, kind of seems/feels much more like being in the States than in Europe.
 

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