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Is Canada a part of the USA? Learn More in 7 Essential Points

Curious minds always question everything. I’m counting you in one of those because that brings you here. People wonder how a country in the tapestry of North America, Canada, stands as a different entity, distinct from its southern neighbor, the United States.

As we all know, things happening overnight aren’t the truth. If a significant event has occurred, internal events have likely been ongoing for a long time. Hence, the answer to the question of why Canada is not part of the USA lies in a rich historical, cultural, and geopolitical narrative. It is rooted in a series of pivotal events that shaped the nation’s identity, values, and governance. 

In this article, we will uncover the complexities that have forged Canada’s autonomy while highlighting the factors contributing to the coexistence of two neighboring nations with separate destinies.

1. Historical Background

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1.1. Colonial Origins

The colonial era is also the time that contributed to Canada’s distinction from the United States. At that time, European nations were beginning to make their way across North America.

Canada’s early history is different if we look at thirteen American colonies where the English primarily settled. It is marked with a diverse mix of French and British colonies. 

The establishment of New France, which French explorers and settlers had laid in the 16th century, was the foundation for the unique cultural and linguistic identity that we now call Quebec. The British were also setting up colonies along the Atlantic coast during the same period.

This difference in colonial origins strongly contributed to the development of two separate identities and interests between the territories that would later become Canada and the United States. It is the same as raising two brothers in different environments, and the choices they will make will be different from others. 

1.2. British Dominion

The 18th century was when the transition from French to British control happened. This played a pivotal role in shaping Canada’s destiny as a distinct entity. 

If we go back in time and look at the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which concluded the French and Indian War, Canada also became a British colony. However, the approach of the British governing in Canada was different from their management of the American colonies. 

Consider the Quebec Act of 1774, which permitted French Canadians to continue using their own tongue, customs, and Catholic faith. This difference in governance has set the path apart from both neighborhoods. 

2. War of 1812: Conflict and Resolution

The War of 1812 also played a significant role in setting the nation’s relationship and identity apart. This war happened between the United States and Great Britain, and this conflict applied to Canada as British North America was drawn into the fray. 

The British Navy’s capture of American sailors and lingering tensions from the American Revolutionary War were the critical reasons for this war. While the conflict was happening, Canada encountered invasions from American forces, and crucial battles such as the Battle of York (modern-day Toronto) and the Battle of Queenston Heights underscored the strategic importance of defending British North America. 

Fast forwarding to when the war ended in 1815, with the Treaty of Ghent, a peace agreement that restored the pre-war status quo. The most crucial part is that the Treaty did not alter territorial boundaries, leaving Canada under British Control. 

During this period, as American forces fostered a sense of unity among the British North, contributed to the emergence of a distinct Canadian identity. This event has played a significant role in shaping the trajectory of Canada as a separate nation from the United States.

3. Cultural Identity

3.1. Biculturalism in Canada

As two nations have gone through the same events with different ideologies, how will their cultural identity remain the same? Canada’s distinct cultural identity is deeply rooted in its commitment to biculturalism. This principle acknowledges and celebrates the coexistence of two major linguistic and cultural groups: English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians. 

This commitment is enriched by policies such as official bilingualism and the recognition of French as an official language alongside English. The historical evolution of French and English culture is the source of the road that became differentiated.

These contributed to a rich tapestry of traditions, arts, and languages that set Canada and the United States apart. In the region of Quebec, one can find the evolution of biculturalism as it is evident in it where a significant French-speaking population resides. 

Quebec experienced the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s, a time of significant social and cultural change in the province. It leads the region to a resurgence of Francophone identity and a push for greater autonomy within Canada.

3.2. American Identity

The border the United States shares with Canada is so lengthy that people who have never been in the region can not imagine. Still, the cultural identity of both nations has different foundations. 

The American Identity is often associated with a history of independence and a melting pot of diverse cultures, typically driven by waves of immigration.

On the other hand, Canada’s identity is shaped by a mosaic of cultural influences that strictly prioritize the coexistence of English and French heritage.

4. Political Differences

4.1. Governance Structure

One of the fundamental reasons that kept Canada apart from the United States lies in the divergence of its governance structures. A constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy characterize the Canadian political system. 

The British monarch serves as the ceremonial head of state, while the Prime Minister acts as the head of government. This unique blend between monarchical tradition and democratic principles emphasizes continuity and Stability in governance.

Examining the US government, we find that it is a federal republic with a presidential system of government. The President is chosen separately from the legislature and functions as both the head of state and the head of government in this instance, making the system unusual.

This American political model, typically a separation of powers and the direct election of the President, sets it apart from Canada. The emphasis here is again on the interdependence of the judicial, legislative, and executive departments.

4.2. Political Evolution

The political evolution in both regions has happened distinctively. Marked by the British North America Act of 1867, Canada’s path to nationhood was a gradual and negotiated process. The territories were merged into the Dominion of Canada as a result.

Looking at the American Revolutionary War, the absence of a revolutionary struggle for independence shaped a different narrative of nation-building for Canada.

In contrast, the United States emerged from a revolutionary struggle against British rule, which gradually led to the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. 

This revolutionary foundation profoundly influenced the American political ethos while emphasizing principles of individual rights, liberty, and self-governance. This contrast in political structures and historical paths came out as the result of two distinct political cultures. 

5. Geographical Factors

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Image by: Andre Furtado/Pexels

5.1. Border Length

One of the tangible reasons that keeps both Canada and the United States as separate entities is the sheet length of their shared border. Being the longest border in the world, Canada-U.S. stretches over 5,500 miles. 

This hard-to-imagine extensive boundary has played a crucial role in maintaining the distinct identities and sovereignties of both nations. 

There have been many economic and cultural exchanges because of the absence of significant geographical barriers along the borders. However, it doesn’t mean not to underscore the importance of clearly defined national boundaries. 

Managing such borders has also been challenging for both nations as it requires cooperation and agreement on security and trade issues. 

While both nations enjoy a close relationship, the complexities associated with governing and securing a border of this magnitude contribute to the maintenance of separate geopolitical entities.

5.2. Geographic Features

If we look beyond the border length, the geographic features of Canada and the United States also contribute to their different pathways. Canada has vast and varied landscapes, such as the Arctic tundra, boreal forests, and the Rocky Mountains. 

Additionally, each of these landscapes was essential in forming the distinct personality of the country. The northern climate and wilderness also influenced the way of living in Canada, fostering a sense of resilience and adaptability. 

The United States has diverse geographical features, ranging from the Appalachian Mountains to the Great Plains and the Pacific Coastline. 

These geographical differences have influenced the settlement patterns, economic activities, and regional cultures of both nations. Hence, the contribution of geographical aspects developed different identities of Canada and the United States.

6. Economic Distinctions

6.1. Resource Economy

The economy has a lot of differences, making it into the list of why both nations have grown apart. Canada has abundant natural resources, such as vast forests, minerals, and extensive energy reserves, which typically significantly shape its economic landscape. 

The resource-driven economy has allowed Canada to develop industries such as forestry, mining, and energy extraction, contributing immense prosperity to its economy. 

In contrast, the United States has relied on a diverse economic base for a long time. These include a strong emphasis on manufacturing, technology, and services. 

It doesn’t mean the U.S. has no natural resources; its economic structure has evolved to be more varied than Canada’s resource-centric focus. 

6.2. Trade Relationships

A unique interdependence has characterized the economic relationships between Canada and the United States. While the border length between both nations is the longest in the world, both engage in substantial cross-border trade, each having distinct economic strengths and priorities. 

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), later replaced by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), reflects the Importance of maintaining separate economic identities.

However, Canada’s trade relationships go beyond North America, with a keen focus on international trade partnerships.

7. Peaceful Coexistence

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7.1. Diplomatic Relations

The separation between Canada and the United States is not only marked by geographic, economic, and historical factors but also is influenced by a history of diplomatic relations. 

Both countries have continuously worked to uphold diplomatic relations built on cooperation and respect for one another. The absence of territorial and military conflicts has contributed to a stable and peaceful coexistence between Canada and the United States. 

There have been many common interests in security, trade, and environmental concerns that have fostered a diplomatic partnership that prioritizes dialogue and negotiation over confrontation.

7.2. Mutual Respect

The reason behind the coexistence between Canada and the United States is the foundation of mutual respect. The attitude towards recognizing and appreciating the cultural, political, and economic differences that distinguish them is the critical factor in it. 

The commitment of Canada to bilingualism, multiculturalism, and the recognition of Indigenous rights has all the respect of the United States. Conversely, the U.S.’s emphasis on individual liberties, democratic principles, and its unique historical narrative has been acknowledged by Canada. 

This mutual respect has allowed the coexistence of distinct national identities and the celebration of diversity. 

Take Away

The reason Canada is not a part of the United States is essentially a complicated one. It is influenced by the weaving of historical, cultural, political, geographical, and economic factors. 

While both nations share the longest undefended border in the world, they have chosen different identity paths. 

Through peaceful coexistence, diplomatic finesse, and a commitment to mutual respect, Canada and the United States stand distinct identities but are united by proximity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is Canada’s capital?

Located in the region of Ontario, Ottawa is Canada’s Capital, known for its cultural richness and historical landmarks.

Q2. Which is bigger, the USA or Canada?

Looking at the landmass, Canada is significantly larger than the USA with its vast and diverse geographical features.

Q3. Is Canada under the USA?

No, Canada is an independent and sovereign nation. While sharing the longest border in the world, both countries have distinct ideologies.

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