Ordeal by Fire: Canada, 1910-1945

By Ralph Allen | Go to book overview

XXVI

The pull of gravity end the U.S.A.--"WLW, the Nation's Station, Cincinnati!"--The Black and Tans and the surge of nationalism--The tour of the Prince of Wales

AMID the moral, economic, and intellectual upheaval of the 1920s, Canada had a private upheaval of its own. Painfully and uncertainly, with much beating of its newly hairy chest, the country began to be less a British country and more an American country.

The shift did not become visible all at once and what became visible was full of paradox. Britain was seldom more admired. The United States was seldom more resented. For millions of Canadians the war had restored the Empire of their schooldays to its invincible, infallible best. The Englishman they knew in person, or thought they knew, was no longer a patronizing egotist, but a heroic, lovable combination of Kipling's Tommy Atkins and Bruce Bairnsfather's Old Bill. The war had made the Yankee, in spite of Teddy Roosevelt's earlier advice, a man who spoke loudly, carried a small stick, and swung it rather late.

Yet gravity was not a force to be obeyed or disobeyed as a simple matter of preference. The great massif of the U.S.A., still half molten among a thousand volcanic fires, exercised a pull that Canadians might deplore and fear but could not resist. Between 1900 and 1921 there were nearly a million and a half immigrants from the United States into Canada--more than from the whole of the Commonwealth. Two and a half million Americans had either been born in Canada themselves or born to parents born in Canada. Americans were busily setting up as branch managers or independent owners in Canadian business and high finance; already, according to the Financial Post, one dollar out of every two in Canadian industry was an American dollar. Another survey judged that by 1922 there were six thousand doctors and clergymen of Canadian origin

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