"Kicking Uncle Sam out of the Peaceable Kingdom": English-Canadian "New Nationalism" and Americanization

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This essay examines the English-Canadian nationalist intelligentsia's reaction to Americanization and the attempt to reclaim Canadian sovereignty during the 1960s and 1970s. Ranging from moderate to radical, the so-called "new nationalism" boomed as English-Canadians indulged in producing and consuming Canadiana. While the movement failed in its political goals, it succeeded in drawing attention to domestic problems and in providing a "Peaceable Kingdom" sense of place during a time of national renegotiation and international insecurity.

Cet article examine les reactions de l'intelligence nationaliste canadienne-anglaise face a l'americanisation et les tentatives de retablir la souverainete canadienne pendant les annees 1960 et 1970. Passant de modere a radical, ce soi-disant << nouveau nationalisme >> a pris de l'ampleur lorsque les Canadiens anglais se sont mis a produire et a consommer des produits canadiens. Bien que ce mouvement n'ait pas atteint ses buts politiques, il a reussi a sensibiliser les gens aux problemes domestiques et a fournir un sentiment de <> au cours d'une periode de renegociation et d'insecurite internationale.

Part Goliath and part Bogeyman, American economic, cultural and social power has shaped Canadian progress and national identity. The political and economic shift from British imperialism to continentalism in the early twentieth century brought with it a process of Americanization which threatened national sovereignty and economic stability. As the evidence of this became increasingly apparent by the mid-1960s, an English-Canadian nationalist intelligentsia emerged to challenge the government's continental direction and reclaim domestic sovereignty. While the movement and its goals were highly contested within a national social fabric under great challenge and renegotiation, especially by French Canada, regionalism and multiculturalism, it succeeded in raising public consciousness about crucial Canadian issues, popularizing "all things Canadian" and shaping the post-Second World War national self-perception as a "Peaceable Kingdom."

Non-European nationalism is, as postcolonial theorist Partha Chatterjee argues, primarily an issue of colonialism, not only because of nationalism's European origin but because much of the non-European world has been colonized.1 While the American revolution established a postcolonial United States, Canada continued as a British colony until imperial and domestic forces negotiated a gradual decolonization. French and Native Canadians, however, continued to subsist under the colonial framework administered by domestic British-Canadian institutions.' By the 1920s, the post-Confederation British-imperial "triple alliance of federal government, Conservative party and Canadian big business," as Kari Levitt calls it in Silent Surrender (56), gave way to Liberal continentalism.3 "The ruling elite which founded Canada a hundred years ago were nationalists," Levitt notes, "but they were never called upon to pay. There was, in the days of [Prime Minister John A.] Macdonald's National Policy, no conflict between the pecuniary interests of the dominant classes and their nationalism" (142). As British investment and trade preferences declined, however, so did the economic rationalization for maintaining cross-Atlantic trade and investment. The Liberal Party instead directed a postcolonial "catching up" to the United States while pursuing sovereignty from Britain through the very institutions it had inherited.

The shift in economic investment from Britain to the United States consolidated the North Americanism of Canada's postcolonial development. While Macdonald's National Policy had begun the influx of branch plants, Liberal economic policies and the interests of an increasingly continental business class perfected it. Nationalism had been replaced by an economic weltanschauung which equated Canadian prosperity with further North American integration. …