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Canada Known & Unknown

March 2023
2min read

We devote nearly half of this issue of AMERICAN HERITAGE to Canada. If we are asked Why? or Why now? we must reply that there are almost more reasons than we have space to print them in. Canada, approaching the hundredth anniversary of Confederation in 1967, is in ferment. It is a bundle of paradoxes. Loyal to the British Crown, Canadians are nonetheless insistent on complete control of their own affairs. They prefer the word “sovereignty” to what we would call “independence,” and anyone who thinks this is casuistry should have heard the pipe bands and the rolling cheers with which Toronto recently welcomed the Queen Mother. Two sharply defined national, or at least linguistic, groups, French-speaking and English-speaking, proclaim their search for “identity.” There is, one hears, a “Silent Revolution” going on among the French-Canadian separatists, but the silence is punctuated by exploding bombs. Meanwhile, all Canadians seem to worry about being swallowed up by the huge republic to the south—most of whose citizens are not even aware that they constitute a menace.

If the Americans have any view of Canada at all, it is generally that reflected in the affectionate satire on the two preceding pages, drawn for us by Michael Ramus. Here is the familiar Northland of the movies, where the Mountie (played by Nelson Eddy) always gets his man. It is a dream world where redcoats still parade, bootleggers replenish their stocks, all the explorers are named for automobiles, and Evangeline never dries her tears. It is a good, stirring set of misconceptions, in which we take great pride.

The country behind the ferment and the misconceptions is examined in this issue by an eminent Canadian author, Hugh MacLennan, anil further studied in a portfolio of paintings, prints, and photographs assembled from a wide variety of sources in that country. We believe Mr. MacLennan will deeply affect those who take Canada for granted, and we think that the pictures will also prove surprising.

Canada—vast, enormous Canada, stretching from ocean to ocean to ocean—is in many ways our twin. There are so many familiar scenes—explorers in the wilderness, immigrants, Indians, plainsmen, raw cities going up, golden spikes completing transcontinental railroads. But there is sometimes a mirror image, in which our defeats are Canadian-British victories, as in the War of 1812. There are also strong contrasts: the melting pot in America and the very much unmelted French in Canada; the widely separated roads the two nations took to self-government.

In the study of American history as it is carried on south of that now (but not always) peaceful border, Canada figures prominently during the first two centuries. Cartier, La Salle, Montcalm, Wolfe, and similar names march through the pages. Then, when our independence is won in 1783 and sealed in 1815, the American eye strays away. There are some half-forgotten border incidents. A few slaves escape to Canada along the Underground Railroad. In the two great wars, you can go to Canada if you want to get into the fight early. The Canadians are very brave, especially at Vimy Ridge. In the twenties you can get a drink across the border. The place is run by the King—or is it Mr. King?

It is all a rather hazy picture. The article that begins on page O is intended to clear away a considerable amount of mist.

We hope you enjoy our work.

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Stories published from "December 1965"

Authored by: Murry Falkner

For three enthralled little boys in Oxford, Mississippi, the Space Age began one hot afternoon at the dawn of this century, when a balloon drifted aloft from the town square amid billows of smoke and whiskey fumes. One of the boys grew up to be Oxford’s most distinguished citizen, the famous novelist William Faulkner, who died in 1962. Another was his younger brother Murry, who writes this reminiscence of

… aboard the Navy’s experimental new warship: the President, his lovely fiancée, members of the Cabinet, and most official Washington. The Captain pulled the landyard …

Authored by: Gerald Carson

For a century the piano was America’s radio, phonograph, and television set, as well as its finishing school and its supreme status symbol

Authored by: Hugh Maclennan

For an American, there is an ironic clue to the history of our neighbor to the north; she became a nation because her people did not wish to be swallowed up by the United States Quant aux Canadiens français, ils ne voulaient pas seulement éviter être absorbés par les États-Unis; ils ne voulaient pas davantage être absorbés parleurs compatriotes “anglais”

Authored by: Ernest Wittenberg

Herr Doktor Albert was very careful with the Kaiser’s money. One day he saved a $1.25 taxi fare—and lost a million dollar’s worth of information

Authored by: The Editors


Authored by: Albert Castel

At sixty-six his bones ached from the wounds of two wars, but as Southern pressure for secession mounted, “Old Sam Jacinto” battled to keep his beloved Texas in the Union

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