Some at Umsl Believe Now Is Time for Canadian Studies

Article excerpt

Today is Canada Day. It's our neighbor's counterpart to the Fourth of July, and it's also a matter of crashing indifference to most St. Louisans.

But not to some people with clout at the University of Missouri at St. Louis.

There, those people hope to set up a Canadian studies program, the first of any size in the Midwest.

Why St. Louis? After all, the region sits more than 600 miles from the Canadian border. (For that matter, the nearest slice of Mexico lies 850 miles away. In the entire United States, you can't get much farther from an international border than St. Louis.)

No matter, says Tom McPhail, UMSL's interim associate vice chancellor for academic affairs (and a native of Hamilton, Ontario).

"Distance might have mattered back in the days of trains," he said in an interview Thursday. "But in a telecommunications age, it doesn't. And look at a map - St. Louis sits in the middle of what has become a North American economy."

McPhail noted that St. Louis housed many big players in the continent's economy - companies like Monsanto, Anheuser-Busch and McDonnell Douglas. A Canadian studies program at UMSL would be a natural, McPhail said.

In fact, he said, UMSL already has a program of sorts - a batch of individual scholars doing research in Canadian art, Canadian museums, Canadian businesses, the Arctic, Canada's environment and so on.

"This kind of ad hoc-ery may have reached the stage of critical mass for a formal program," he said. …