Culture Name



Identification. The name Canada is derived from the Iroquoian word kanata, which means village.

Location and Geography. Canada is located in the northern portion of the continent of North America, extending, in general, from the 49th parallel northward to the islands of the Arctic Ocean. Its eastern and western boundaries are the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans respectively. Its land area totals 3,851,809 square miles (9,976,185 square kilometers). The easternmost portion of the country is a riverine and maritime environment, consisting of the provinces of Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. The central portion of the country, in its southern areas, is primarily boreal forest (the provinces of Ontario and Quebec). This forest region extends across the entire country from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains through to the Atlantic coast, and is dominated by coniferous trees. A section of the country westward from the Great Lakes basin along the southern extent of this forest region is a prairie made up mostly of flat grasslands (in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta). The westernmost portion of the country is dominated by the Rocky Mountains, with a narrow riverine environment, made up of northern rain forests, west of the mountains (in the province of British Columbia). Between the southern Carolinian forest of the central regions of the country lies a region in Ontario and Quebec characterized by numerous lakes and expanses of exposed rock known as the Canadian Shield, an area left exposed after the most recent glacial retreat. Across the northernmost portion of the country from east to west lies a region dominated by tundra and finally at its most northern reach, an arctic eco-zone (in northern Ontario and Quebec and in the territories of Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon).

These variations have had important social and cultural effects. The largest segment of the population resides in the central Carolinian region, which has the richest and most varied agricultural land and, because the Great Lakes waterway system dominates the central portion of the country, is also where most of the major manufacturing is located. The savanna or prairie region is more sparsely populated, with several large urban centers in a network across the region, which is dominated by grain farming, cattle and other livestock production, and more recently, oil and natural gas extraction. The two coastal regions, which have some agricultural production, are best characterized by the dominance of port cities through which import and export goods move. In the northern section of the center of the country, also sparsely populated, resource extraction of minerals and lumber, has predominated. The effect of this concentration of the population, employment, and productive power in the central region of the country has been the concentration of political power in this region, as well as the development over time of intense regional rivalries and disparities in quality of life. Equally important, as employment in the center came to dominate gross national production, immigration has tended to flow into the center. This has created a diverse cultural mix in the central region of the country, while the prairie and the eastern maritime region have stabilized ethnically and culturally. The consequence of these diverse geographies has been the development of a rhetoric of regional cultures: Prairie, Maritime, Central, and because of its special isolation, West Coast.

A final differentiation is between urban and rural. Local cultural identity is often marked by expressions of contrasting values in which rural residents characterize themselves as harder working, more honest, and more deeply committed to community cooperation, in contrast to urban dwellers

who are characterized by rural residents as greedy, dishonest, arrogant, and self-interested. Urban dwellers express their own identities as more modern and forward looking, more sophisticated, and more liberal in their overall social values, and perceive rural residents as conservative, overdependent on outmoded traditions, unsophisticated, and simple minded. This distinction is most explicit in Quebec, but also plays a key role in political, social, and cultural contentions in Ontario.

Demography. The official population at the last census calculation, in 1996, was 29,672,000, an increase over the previous census in 1991 of about 6 percent in five years. The previous five-year increase was almost 7 percent. There has been a slowing population increase in Canada over the last several decades, fueled in part by a decline in the crude birthrate. This slowing of growth has been offset somewhat by an increase in immigration over the last two decades of the twentieth century, coupled with a slowing of emigration. Statistics Canada, the government Census management organization, is projecting a population increase of as much as 8 percent between 2001 and 2005, mostly through increased immigration.

Linguistic Affiliation. Canada is bilingual, with English and French as the official languages. English takes precedence in statutory proceedings outside of Quebec, with English versions of all statutes serving as the final arbiter in disputes over interpretation. As of 1996, the proportion of Canadians reporting English as their mother tongue was just under 60 percent while those reporting French as their mother tongue was slightly less than 24 percent. The percentage of native English speakers had risen over the previous decade, while that of French speakers had declined. At the same time, about 17 percent of all Canadians could speak both official languages, though this is a regionalized phenomenon. In those provinces with the largest number of native French speakers (Quebec and New Brunswick), 38 percent and 33 percent respectively were bilingual, numbers that had been increasing steadily over the previous twenty years. In contrast, Ontario, which accounts for more than 30 percent of the total population of Canada, had an English-French bilingualism rate of about 12 percent. This is in part a result of the immigration patterns over time, which sees the majority of all immigrants gravitating to Ontario, and in part because all official and commercial services in Ontario are conducted in English, even though French is available by law, if not by practice. English-French bilingualism is less important in the everyday lives of those living outside of Quebec and New Brunswick.

First Nations language groups make up a significant, if small, portion of the nonofficial bilingual speakers in Canada, a fact with political and cultural importance as First Nations groups assert greater and more compelling claims on political and cultural sovereignty. The three largest First Nations languages in 1996 were Cree, Inuktitut, and Ojibway, though incomplete census data on First Nations peoples continues to plague assessments of the extent and importance of these mother tongues.

Changing immigration patterns following World War II affected linguistic affiliation. In the period, from 1961 to 1970, for example, only 54 percent of immigrants had a nonofficial language as mother tongue, with more than two-thirds of this group born in Europe. Almost a quarter of them reported Italian, German, or Greek as mother tongue. In contrast, 80 percent of the 1,039,000 immigrants who came to Canada between 1991 and 1996 reported a nonofficial language as mother tongue, with over half from Asia and the Middle East. Chinese was the mother tongue of just under 25 percent, while Arabic, Punjabi, Tagalog, Tamil, and Persian together accounted for about 20 percent. In 1971, the three largest nonofficial mother tongue groups were German, Italian, and Ukrainian, reflecting patterns of non-English and non-French immigration that have remained relatively constant through most of the twentieth century. In the period ending in 1996, this had changed, with the rank order shifting to Chinese, Italian, and German. This is reflected in regional concentrations, with Italians concentrated heavily in Ontario, Germans in both Ontario and the Prairie regions, and Chinese and other Asians most heavily represented in southern Ontario and in British Columbia. A gradual decline in out-migration from Europe, coupled with political changes in China and throughout Asia, leading to increased out-migration from these areas, is changing the ethnic and linguistic makeup of Canada. It should be stressed, however, that these changes are concentrated in two or three key urban centers, while linguistic affiliation elsewhere in the country remains stable. This is likely to change in the early twenty-first century as an aging cohort of European immigrants declines and out-migration from Europe continues to decrease. These shifts will come to have increasingly important cultural effects as immigrants from Asia and, most recently, from certain areas throughout the continent of Africa, come to influence the political and social life of the core urban centers in which they settle.

Symbolism. This is an area of considerable dispute in Canada, in large part because of the country's longstanding history of biculturalism (English and French) and perhaps most importantly because of its proximity to the United States, whose symbolic and rhetorical influence is both unavoidable and openly resisted. Ethnic and cultural diversity in Canada, in which different cultural groups were expected to maintain their distinctiveness rather than subsume it to some larger national culture, which is the historical effect of the English-French biculturalism built into the Canadian confederation, means that national symbols in Canada tend to be either somewhat superficial or regionalized. There are, however, certain symbols that are deployed at both official and unofficial events and functions which are generally shared across the entire country, and can be seen as general cultural symbols, even if their uses may not always be serious.

Canada is often symbolically connected with three key images—hockey, the beaver, and the dress uniform of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Hockey, often described as Canada's national sport, is a vigorous, often violently competitive team sport and, as such, it carries the same kind of symbolic weight as baseball does for many Americans. What gives it its profound symbolic importance is the way in which hockey events, such as the winning goal scored by the Canadian national team during a competition with the Russian national team in the 1970s, are used as special cultural and historical markers in political discourse. Hockey is used, in its symbolic form, to signify national unity and a national sense of purpose and community. That most Canadians do not follow hockey in any serious way does not diminish its role as a key cultural symbol.

The beaver, which appears often on Canadian souvenirs, might seem to be an odd animal to have as a national symbol. It is a ratlike character, with a broad flat tail and, in caricature, a comical face highlighted by front chewing teeth of considerable prominence. What gives the beaver its special merit as a cultural symbol, however, are its industriousness, toiling to create elaborate nesting sites out of mud and twigs, and its triumph over the seasons. The beaver is humble, nonpredatory, and diligent, values that form a fundamental core of Canadian self-identification.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), often represented in their dress uniform which includes a tight-fitting red coat, riding pants, high black boots, and broad-brimmed felt hat, also represent this Canadian concern with diligence and humility. Canada was opened to European occupation not by a pioneering spirit fighting against all odds to push open a wild and dangerous frontier, as in the United States, but by a systematic effort to bring the vastness of the Canadian landscape under police control. The RCMP, along with agents of colonial economic interests such as the Hudson's Bay Company, expanded the scope of colonial control and occupation of Canada in a systematic and orderly way, not so much by conquest as by coordination. That is, Canada was opened to European occupation and control almost as a bureaucratic exercise in extending the rule of law. Where the American frontier was a lawless and wild place, later brought under control by centralizing government bodies, the Canadian frontier never quite existed. Instead, Canada was colonized by law rather than by force.

The core values that inform these symbols are cooperation, industriousness, and patience—that is, a kind of national politeness. The Canadian symbolic order is dominated by a concern for order and stability, which marks Canadian identity as something communal rather than individualistic.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Canada throughout its history might best be described as a nation of nations. Two European colonial powers dominate the history of Canada and its emergence as a nation: France and Great Britain. In time Britain emerged as the dominant political and cultural force in Canada, but that emergence exemplifies the sense of compromise and cooperation on which Canadian social identity is founded. While Britain, and later English Canada, came to be and remain the most powerful part of the Canadian cultural landscape, this dominance and power exists in a system of joint cultural identity, with French Canada, in Quebec and in other parts of eastern Canada, remaining a singular and distinctive cultural entity in its own right.

The Canadian novelist Hugh McLennan, writing in the 1940's, spoke of the two solitudes which in many ways govern the cultural and political life of Canada. Two communities, distinguished by language, culture, religion, and politics live in isolation from each other with divergent aspirations and very divergent views of the history of Canada as a nation. The peace between the French and English sides of the Canadian coin is a peace born in war, with Britain defeating French colonial forces in the late eighteenth century. It is a peace born of common purpose when the now English colony of Canada withstood invasion from the newly formed United States, with the sometimes uneven assistance of the remaining French community in Lower Canada, later to be called Quebec. It is also a peace driven by controversy and scandal. During the opening of the westward railroad in the late nineteenth century, a process of pacification of the Canadian frontier most noteworthy for its having been planned and carried out by a series of government committees, French Canadians felt, not without cause, that they were being excluded from this nation building. And it is a peace marked, even today, by a deep sense of ethnic antagonism, most particularly in Quebec, where French Canadian nationalism is a vibrant, if not the dominant political force.

This complex antagonism, which has been a thread throughout Canada's emergence as a nation, has also led to a particular kind of nation. Most important, the development of the Canadian nation, however uneven the power of the English and the French, has been characterized by discussion, planning, and compromise. The gradual opening of all of Canada to European control, and its coming together in 1867 as a national entity, was not the result of war or revolution but instead, of negotiation and reconciliation. It was an orderly transition managed almost like a business venture, through which Canada obtained a degree of sovereignty and Great Britain continued to hold Canada's allegiance as a member of the British Empire. When, in the early 1980s Canada would take the final step towards political independence by adopting its own constitution, it would do so through negotiation as well, and again, the antagonism between English and French Canada, which resulted in the Government of Quebec refusing to sign the constitutional enabling agreement would provide both the drama of the moment, and its fundamental character, one of compromise and collaboration.

It is these qualities of combining co-operation with ethnic independence which continue to shape Canada's development as a nation. Developments in human rights law, for example, with a new emphasis on the importance of group rights and in particular group rights under conditions of inequality among groups, were pioneered in Canada. The model of universal health care for all citizens in Canada which, while currently stressed by economic changes in the final decades of the twentieth century, illustrates how a system of co-operative engagement between multiple and independent political partners can produce institutions which benefit everyone. While Canada remains an often contentious and divided place in many ways, with regional and ethnic communities making greater demands for independence, they do so because the history of Canada's emergence as a nation has been a history of interdependence in which these polarities and debates are not so much a sign of dissolution but evidence of a continued vitality. An early colonial governor of Canada is reputed to have said that it is "nearly impossible to govern a nation where one half the people are more British than the Queen, and the other more Catholic than the Pope." While he may have been right about the difficulty, nearly a century and a half of Canadian nationhood has demonstrated that it is indeed possible to build a nation where diversity serves as the keystone of unity.

National Identity. Leading up to and following the emergence of Canada as an independent political state in 1867, English Canada and English identity dominated the political and cultural landscape. The remaining French presence, in Quebec and throughout the eastern part of the country, while a strong cultural entity in itself, exercised only limited influence and effect at the national level. English symbols, the English language, and the values of loyalty to the English crown prevailed throughout the nation as the core underpinnings of national identity.

Ethnic Relations. The dominance of English Canada in terms of national identity, especially in a federal system in which binationalism and biculturalism were enshrined in the founding legislation of the country, exercised a powerful effect on ethnic relations, but that effect was not ethnic homogenization. Instead, the dominance of English Canada served as a major locus of ongoing tension between the two national identities of Canada, a tension which, in the period from the 1960s onward, has come to be expressed in growing French-Canadian nationalism and so far unsuccessful attempts on the part of French Canada to secede from the Canadian confederation. This tension—which is built into the principles of the confederation itself, which recognizes the duality of Canadian national identity— while regularly threatening the unity of the federation, has also had a mollifying effect on ethnic divisions more generally.

Canada has seen successive waves of immigration, from the Netherlands, Germany and Italy, England and Ireland, China and Japan, and more recently from south and east Asia and from many countries throughout Africa. While some of these migration waves have resulted in considerable political and social conflict, as in the large-scale migration of Chinese laborers brought into Canada to work on the national railroad, the overall pattern of in-migration and settlement has been characterized by relatively smooth transitions. This is in large part an effect of the legislated binationalism and biculturalism on which Canada is founded. Such a model of confederation, which institutionalizes cultural diversity, has meant the new cohorts of migrants have not experienced the kind of assimilationist and acculturationalist pressures which have characterized ethnic relations in the United States. Where, in the United States, there was considerable pressure on migrant cohorts to become "American," in Canada these cohorts have more often than not retained their identity of birth. This has created a kind of mosaic-like quality in Canadian ethnic relations in which being Canadian does not necessarily take precedence over being Japanese or Italian or Somalian or Pakistani. Instead, the two identities can and often do carry the same social and political weight, creating in Canada a diversity of identity unlike that found in other large nation-states. This cooperative national identity, with its multiple cultural orientations, has not been without its tensions and conflicts. English Canadian cultural domination has created flash points of assimilationist sentiment, and the fact that Japanese-Canadians, for example, were seen as being both Japanese and Canadian, helped justify the imprisonment of people of Japanese ancestry throughout Canada during World War II. Overall, however, ethnic relations in Canada have tended to not be exclusionary and assimilationist.

The main exception to this has been the relationship between the dominant French-English state and aboriginal peoples. Colonial relations with indigenous ethnic groups worldwide have often been marked by violent conquest. While violence did play a role in these relationships in Canada, more often than not aboriginal peoples simply had their ethnic and cultural identities erased. The use of forced schooling, including the removal of children from their families, for example, sought to annul aboriginal cultural identities through a process of denial. Historically the policy in Canada has been to not recognize aboriginal cultural and ethnic identity as an identity at all. In more recent years, First Nations people throughout Canada have adopted a renewed expression of ethnic and cultural identity, as part of the process of asserting claims to sovereignty and their right of historical redress. These claims have been only moderately successful, in part because First Nations people are asserting an identity and a claim to ethnic coherence that had been denied them for more than one hundred years, and in part because the dominating ethic of multi-cultural cooperation in Canadian ethnic relations, which gives their claim to ethnic identity legitimacy in the Canadian system, also diminishes and undermines their claim to a special ethnic status. While First Nations peoples are indeed emerging as real ethnic, cultural, and political entities, they do so in a system that relegates them to the position of one among many. The future direction of First Nations ethnicity, and their position within this Canadian mosaic, is likely to be complex, contentious, and a long time in its resolution.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Space has symbolic importance for Canadian culture, in part because of the vastness of Canadian geography coupled with its sparse population, and in part because a sense of distance in Canada has tended to create regional tensions based on the isolation of the larger pockets of the population. Most Canadians live in towns and cities, a trend away from rural residence not unlike that found throughout the rest of the industrialized world. Canadian cities are found at important hubs of interchange between agriculture and manufacturing, such that most Canadian cities emerged as points of connection between farm production and industrial development. Because of this, Canadian cities have tended to develop haphazardly as the larger scale processes of industrialization and changes in farming have developed. Such historical processes are not amenable to planning.

Canadian cities look like cities almost anywhere in the industrialized world, save the fact they tend to be cleaner due to an effect of the way that orderliness has been a dominant feature of the history of Canadian material culture. Canadian cities, even during phases of urban decay, have tended to be more carefully planned and better run, at least in terms of amenities and services, than those in many other industrialized nations.

Unlike European cities, however, space in Canadian cities tends to be privatized. While most cities have some space, such as a formal plaza at a city hall, at which public events are held, in general there are no large communal spaces in which social interactions occur. Instead, Canadians in cities of whatever size socialize in private spaces: their homes or commercial sites, such as restaurants. Like cities throughout North America, space in Canadian cities is dominated by movement, and Canadian cities are designed as networks through which goods, vehicles, and people move on their way to or from some place. As such, streets are designed to control the flow of vehicular traffic, to in some way isolate foot traffic, and in all instances to direct traffic toward destinations rather than allow traffic to accumulate. This has led, over the last several decades, to the gradual disappearance of urban commercial streetscapes, replaced by indoor shopping malls as a key destination of traffic flow. Rural towns, however, counter this trend somewhat. Many smaller towns have endeavored to revitalize their commercial streetscapes in recent decades and the decline of this streetscape is often seen as a sign of the decline and decay of the town as a whole.

Residence in Canadian cities is generally private rather than communal, dominated by private homes or residences. Vertical residence structures, such as apartment buildings, dominate much of the urban renewal of core areas in cities, while expansion of cities has been dominated by the development of large tracts of private single-family dwellings.

Official architecture in Canada has, historically, been neoclassical though not to the same extent as one finds in the United States. While official buildings in the early part of the twentieth century were often modeled on massive classical buildings, in the latter part of the century these buildings took on shapes not unlike other functional commercial buildings. Key symbolically important buildings, such as courthouses and city halls, are often grand in scale; what marks them today is their diversity rather than the application of a single stylistic model.

A house and pond in rural Nova Scotia. Most Canadians live in private homes.
A house and pond in rural Nova Scotia. Most Canadians live in private homes.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. The agricultural and ethnic richness of Canada has led to two distinctive characteristics of everyday food consumption. The first is its scale. Canadians are "big eaters," with meat portions in particular dominating the Canadian meal. There are generally three regular meals in a given day. Breakfast, often large and important in rural areas, but less so in urban areas, is most often not eaten in a group. Lunch, at midday, is most often a snack in urban areas, but remains a substantial meal in rural centers. Dinner, the final formal meal of the day, is also the meal most likely to be eaten by a residential group as a whole, and it is the largest and the most socially important meal of the day. It is the meal most often used as a social event or to which invitations to nonfamily members are extended, in contrast with lunch which is often, for adults, shared with coworkers. Meat plays a key role in all three of the formal meals, but with increasing importance at breakfast and dinner. Dinner should have some special, and most often, large, meat portion as its key component. Each of these three meals can be, and often are, very substantial. There are general rules concerning appropriate foods for each meal, rules that can be quite complex. For example, pork can figure in each meal, but only particular kinds of pork would be considered appropriate. Pork at breakfast may appear as bacon, or sausage, in small portions. Both of these products are made with the least valuable portion of the pig. At lunch, pork may appear in a sandwich in the form of processed meats, also made from the least valuable portion of the pig. For dinner, pork appears in large and more highly valued forms, such as roasts or hams, which require often elaborate preparation and which are presented to diners in a way that highlights their value and size.

The other main feature of Canadian food is diversity. The complex ethnic landscape of Canada and the tendency of ethnic groups to retain a dual cultural orientation have meant that Canadian cuisine is quite diverse in its content, with many ethnic dishes seen as somehow quintessentially Canadian as well. Whether pizza or chow mein, cabbage rolls or plum pudding, Canadian cuisine is best characterized as eclectic rather than consistent in content. There are a small number of food items that are considered distinctively Canadian, such as maple syrup, but overall the Canadian diet is drawn from a panoply of ethnic sources.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Ceremonial food does not generally differ greatly in content from everyday foods. What distinguishes food in ceremonial settings, such as state dinners, is not the type of food but the amount of food served and the complexity of its presentation and consumption. Ceremonial dinners are often made up of a long list of dishes served in a rigid sequence, eaten with utensils specified for each portion, and presented in often elaborate arrangement either generally, on the table as a whole, or in the particular portions placed on each diner's plate.

The same general consideration applies to meals for more private special occasions, such as those marking important religious holidays such as Christmas. The number of discrete dishes is usually quite large, the preparation of each is often specialized and involved, and portions consumed are more often than not greater than what one would consume under other circumstances. These more private special occasion meals often involve entire extended families sharing in both preparing and eating the meal.

There is another special meal worth mentioning, the potluck. "Potluck" is derived from the word potlatch, a special occasion of many West Coast First Nations peoples. The potluck involves each guest preparing and bringing a dish to the event, to be shared by all the diners. The key component of this particular kind of meal is food sharing among friends as opposed to food making for family. In general, potluck meals are meals shared by friends or coworkers. They express the symbolic importance of the meal as a part of the moral geography of social relations among nonkin, but distinguish this meal as an act of food sharing rather than an act of food preparation. That is, the potluck meal expresses a sense of community and kindness, while the family meal expresses a sense of service, duty, and family solidarity.

Basic Economy. Canada is a resource rich, but land and people poor, country. While physically vast, there are geographic limitations on where people can live such that most of the population is located around the Great Lakes, and in the Saint Lawrence River Valley. This has meant, however, that the natural resources throughout the country can be exploited more fully.

Key to Canada's basic economy is its role as a resource base, not only for its own manufacturing, but for export as well. Minerals and ore, forestry products, and in particular in the twentieth century, oil and gas, have been the foundation of the Canadian economy since European conquest of the area.

Farming is also key to the Canadian economy, although most of Canada's agricultural production

A father and son celebrate their lumber heritage during the winter Lumberjack Parade in Chicoutimi, Quebec.
A father and son celebrate their lumber heritage during the winter Lumberjack Parade in Chicoutimi, Quebec.
is exported, primarily though not exclusively, to the United States. This is a function of the scale of agricultural production in Canada in relation to the smallness of the Canadian population. Very few Canadians produce at the subsistence level; so few in fact, that it is fair to say all agricultural production in Canada is production for sale. Equally important, even that agricultural production consumed in Canada itself is not sold directly by producers to consumers but rather through a network of secondary distributers. Because of the shortness of Canadian growing seasons, a significant portion of all food consumed in Canada is imported from elsewhere in the world.

Manufacturing in Canada is dominated by automobile production, and by the manufacture of other large equipment and farm equipment. Canada also produces a wide range of consumer products, including furniture, electronics and building material. Since the 1980s production of high technology equipment, and especially communication equipment, has become a key sector of the economy as well.

The single largest area of economic growth in Canada since the 1970s has been in the "service" sector, the part of the economy which provides services rather than goods for sale. The financial, research, and tourist sectors have shown substantial increases during this period. Taken together, the resource sector and the service sector dominate the economy of Canada, such that Canada remains primarily a provider of resources, either in material or in labor through service, and equally important, an importer of manufactured goods. While balance of trade in the import and export of manufactured goods tends to favor Canada, factoring in service export means Canada is always somewhat at a trading deficit with its partners globally.

Land Tenure and Property. Property in Canada is primarily by rental and freehold. Immediate, and some closely related secondary kin have some claims on the disposition of property, usually through inheritance. Some land, and other kinds of property, may be held in cooperative ownership, such as, for example, land held by religious communities or farmers co-op groups. To a limited extent, the property of married couples, and some property of common-law couples, is also held in common, each partner having some degree of claim on the total joint property. This joint ownership is also being extended to same-sex conjugal partners, whose property rights are now similar to those of common-law opposite sex couples. The state has right of expropriation of privately held land, and the right of criminal seizure of other properties. Private ownership of both land and moveable property is also subject to statues governing financial solvency, such that bankrupts, for example, can have their land and other property sold to balance their debt.

Major Industries. Canadian manufacturing is dominated, in terms of economic effect, by automobile manufacturing, and to a lesser extent by resource processing such as steel and other metals production. The automotive sector is the single largest sector, but resource extraction and processing, including mineral, chemical, and forestry products taken together, is the most important productive and commercial activity in Canada. In general, Canada exports more than it imports, in large part because of the combination of its raw material resource-based economy and the automotive sector.

The provision of services is the second most important commercial activity in Canada in terms of number of people employed, accounting for slightly less than half the labor force, but manufacturing, resource extraction, and agriculture dominate employment and commercial activity.

Trade. Canada exports around the world, but its most important export and import trading partner is the United States. In recent decades Canada has had a slight balance of trade advantage with all its trading partners, including the United States, by exporting more goods than it imports from others. The automotive sector dominates Canadian manufacturing and trade, due to a preferential trade agreement with the United States through which American automobile manufacturers agreed to produce one vehicle in Canada for every vehicle it exports to Canada from its American based plants. In return, Canada waived all tariffs on vehicles exported by American manufacturers to Canada. Under pressure from non-American car makers worldwide, this agreement, which expired in February 2001, is likely not to be renewed, a change which could affect the overall importance of automobile manufacturing for Canadian trade relations.

The manufacturing and export of large equipment, and in particular farm equipment, is the second largest component of Canadian manufacturing and trade. The export of farm equipment in particular is a major component of Canada's international aid programs. Some economic analysts project that large equipment manufacturing, including the recent advance of airplane building in Canada, may supplant automobile manufacturing as the dominant sector of Canadian trade.

At the same time, Canada remains a major resource exporter. In particular, Canada exports raw materials such as petro-chemicals and oil, minerals and ores, and forestry products. This is a key trading role which Canada has played in the global economy throughout its history. This sector of the economy is subject to the most stringent rules governing foreign ownership, but the importance of resource extraction and trade for Canada is such that these rules are being loosened under pressure from bodies such as the World Trade Organization, of which Canada is a member.

Farm product export ranks fourth in overall trade importance for Canada, with special emphasis on wheat, canola and corn, soybeans and non-citrus fruit. Livestock trade, including beef, pig, and chicken products, while substantial, makes up only a very small part of Canada's agricultural exports, with most of Canada's livestock production being consumed domestically. Increased restrictions on the import, in particular of beef products due to health concerns over Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (mad cow disease), has led to a gradual increase in overall livestock production in Canada, but no significant increase in export of these goods. This is likely to change as more and more countries world wide turn to Canada and the United States for "safe" beef and other livestock products.

Finally, Canada, along with the United States and Mexico, belongs to a North American Free Trade Zone, the result of a treaty between these three countries. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) establishes preferential trading rules between the three signatories, though its administration has not been without dispute. The effect over time may be an increasing reliance on exports to and imports from NAFTA partners, with trade production in each of the three countries under pressure to address the import and export needs of the other partners, possibly limiting trade expansion in other global areas. Canada appears to be resisting this limitation on trade development by pursuing special trade arrangements with such countries as China and Indonesia. At the same time, Canada is an active participant in negotiations to extend the NAFTA agreement to include all countries in the Western Hemisphere in a mutual trade agreement.

Division of Labor. Labor in Canada is unevenly divided between skilled professional, skilled manufacturing, and general unskilled such as service workers. With increased manufacturing efficiency, the skilled manufacturing labor force has declined in size, though not in economic impact, while the general unskilled labor force has increased; at the same time skilled professionals—whether doctors, computer programmers, and other new economy professionals—has also increased. Access to different jobs is determined in part by education and training and in part by social networks. There has been a strong tendency for children to follow their parents into similar positions in the labor force, but shifts away from stable employment in manufacturing, along with the growth of the unskilled labor market in the services sector, has seen this change in recent decades. While access to and advancement in both the skilled professional and skilled manufacturing sectors is described as meritocractic, there remain strong class, ethnic, and regional factors that affect access to and promotion within labor markets.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Class is a contentious issue in Canada, in no small part because the rhetoric of Canadian identity, with its emphasis on equality, unity in diversity, and mutual respect and cooperation, does not match the actual distribution of economic wealth and political power. Indeed, this culture of diversity has had the effect, on the one hand, of disguising class divisions, and on the other, of allowing them to flourish. Combined with ethnic diversity and strong regional disparities, class in Canada is a complex web of factors, which make easy descriptions of working and upper class, for example, difficult.

The number of people in Canada defined as being low income by the government increased from about 17 percent in 1991 to about 19 percent in 2000. Average incomes in the central provinces are closest to the national average, but in eastern provinces average incomes can be as much as 25 percent lower than the national average. This has led to the emergence of low-skill, low-pay service sector jobs being located in the eastern provinces, creating a strong regional class division.

Class divisions can been seen in educational participation rates, with lower-class individuals less likely to participate beyond, or in some regions, to complete secondary school. Urban centers, both large and small, are divided into neighborhoods by class; in large urban centers undergoing the most recent phase of urban redevelopment, the large cohort of urban poor are increasingly being confined to smaller and smaller areas of older rental housing stock. This reaggregation of upper-class residential enclaves in revitalized urban cores is also producing greater demand for low-skill service sector employment, which reproduces the class divisions by dividing urban centers into networks of microregions defined by the class position of the residents.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Class symbolism in Canada is mostly modest, again in large part as a result of the rhetoric of identity that prizes diversity and even humility. Signs of class excess, such as massive residences, or conspicuous over-consumption, are not common in Canada, except in rare cases. Some symbolic sites of class expression, such as purchasing subscription tickets to and attending local symphony concerts, constitute a dual discourse of class. In one sense, members of a particular class express cultural solidarity, and in another sense, it is an avenue for class mobility, with members of lower classes using these events as a way of marking their movement between classes. Unlike in England, for example, where accent and dress can clearly mark class position, the symbolic expression of stratification in Canada is less obvious and so more difficult to decipher. Dark business suits, jewelry, hairstyles, and types of leisure activities and leisure sites, such as exclusive clubs, can express status, but in the absence of enforced rules concerning admission and even who may or may not employ

Agriculture is a key element of Canada's economy, especially the cultivation of grains such as corn and wheat for export.
Agriculture is a key element of Canada's economy, especially the cultivation of grains such as corn and wheat for export.
particular symbols, stratification is not often explicitly expressed.

Political Life

Government. Canada is a confederation of ten provinces and three territories, with a central federal government managing national services and international relations. Each province and, to a lesser extent, each territory has constitutional sovereignty over at least some aspects of its affairs. Each level of government is a constitutionally governed democracy, modeled on the British parliamentary system with representatives chosen in statutorily scheduled elections. Suffrage is universal for all citizens over the age of eighteen, except, in some instances, those in prison or citizens living overseas. Political control at each level of government is determined by the political party that wins the largest number of representative seats, not by proportion of popular vote. The election of each representative, however, is direct and proportional, the winner being the candidate who receives the single largest percentage of the votes cast.

Leadership and Political Officials. Leadership is dominated, in particular at the provincial and national levels, by professionals, often though not exclusively, lawyers, and most often though not exclusively, men. These political leaders are selected for election by political parties, and there is an informal network of control that governs these nominations which requires service to the political party as part of the process of gaining access to that party's nomination for election by the citizens. There are no limits on the number of terms a political leader may serve. In general, these elected political officials serve two functions: representing the interests of their constituents at whatever level of government they serve, and advancing the political interests and the platform of the party that nominated them. Where these two functions come into conflict, the interests of their political party most often takes precedence, resulting occasionally in elected government officials being punished by their political parties.

Leadership and governing is carried out as well, however, by appointed officials who form a large bureaucracy that implements the decisions of elected officials. This bureaucracy is mostly drawn from middle-and upper-class, well-educated sectors of the population, and apart from a small percentage of appointments at the pleasure of the governing party, their positions in this system are lifelong if they choose. Access to this bureaucracy is in part through training and merit and in part through a network of connections outward from the bureaucracy to the business and higher educational communities.

Statutory prohibitions exist against bribery and other kinds of influence peddling in dealings with politicians and government officials, although violations do occur and often result in considerable scandal and criminal sanction.

Social Problems and Control. Social control is effected by a system of courts of law, and by local, provincial, and a national police force. The most common crimes are crimes against property, although violent crimes are also common. In recent years, the incidence of violent crime has declined somewhat, although at the same time the incidence of crime against certain vulnerable sectors of the population, such as the elderly and women, has increased. There is a strong class component to the prosecution of some crimes. Prosecution for drug offenses, which in Canada are for the most part minor offenses related to possession or small-scale trafficking of controlled substances, is most often focused on lower-class individuals. While the prison population in Canada is relatively small compared to many other industrialized nations, the percentage of the prison population who are of First Nations descent remains very high, in spite of the small number of First Nations people in the population as a whole. This suggests that other kinds of disparity are also operating in the apprehension and prosecution of crime.

All accused persons are constitutionally guaranteed an open trial and rules of evidence, fairness of prosecution, and judicial review, with several levels of appellate courts in place to oversee this process. Judges are appointed for life, though they are subject to removal by judicial review boards. Such action is rare. Police forces, which are empowered by both federal and provincial statute, are relatively independent from political interference or control, and in many instances are self-governing within the limits of their statutory authority.

Military Activity. The Canadian military was engaged almost exclusively in peacekeeping or disaster relief, both nationally and internationally, during the last four decades of the twentieth century. While Canada maintains a small standing army, at least small for the size of the country physically, because it has no border disputes with its neighbors, the army's primary role has been to assist other countries in either disputes or in the event of emergencies. Canada provided conflict forces to joint warfare efforts during this period, but these engagements have been small and most often highly specialized. Canada has about twenty-five hundred military personnel deployed worldwide in support and emergency situations in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Africa. As of 2001, the Canadian military was undergoing restructuring and reorganization. It was engaged in a major recruiting effort, as its numbers had declined steadily for nearly twenty years. What role the miliary will play in Canada in the coming decades remains unclear.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Canada is an example of a capitalist welfare state, in that tax-base-funded programs exist to provide some measure of protection to the impoverished and those at risk of impoverishment. These programs, usually administered at the town or city level, but funded from taxes collected at the provincial and federal level, take two main forms. The first is an insurance program designed to provide income support in the event of unemployment. Individual workers pay premiums based on their wages, and the fund is supplemented by general tax revenue as needed. There are strict guidelines for qualification and the income support paid out of the fund represents a percentage of the unemployed person's previous income. There are also time limits on this support. This is a national program, and while guidelines regarding qualification vary from region to region, it is generally available to all employed persons. The second program, a general welfare program, provides subsistence support for persons and families unable to work or unemployed for longer periods than those covered by the insurance program. Levels of support in this program are often very low, providing incomes to both individuals and families well below the low-income cutoff points used by governments to measure poverty. Recently these programs have been altered to require recipients to perform some labor for the community in order to qualify. This change, along with reductions in levels of actual income support, have been controversial in Canada, with the debate focusing on the role of the state in providing support to the economically disadvantaged, a basic principle of the welfare state.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) take many shapes and have many different purposes in Canada. At least three distinctive types are quite common in all regions. The first are organizations whose aim is to raise and distribute funds to assist

The neoclassical buildings of the Canadian Parliament and the modern architecture of Hull, the city across the river, are representative of the diversity found in Canada.
The neoclassical buildings of the Canadian Parliament and the modern architecture of Hull, the city across the river, are representative of the diversity found in Canada.
people in some distress or at some disadvantage. The largest of these, the United Way, raises funds from individuals and corporations and uses this money to fund community-based assistance and improvement programs focused on such diverse social issues as health, poverty, social development, adjustment of new immigrants, disaster assistance, and education. A second type of NGO, associations of mutual interest, takes several forms. The most common are community aid organizations whose membership share certain social or political values, such as the Kinsmen or the Shriners. These organizations raise funds both from members and from the general public in support of particular kinds of projects such as hospitals, and recreation facilities. A second common type of NGO in this category focuses on specific aspects of community improvement and development such as economic health and revitalization, as in the case of the Chamber of Commerce whose members are drawn from the local business community.

The third type of NGO in Canada is activistoriented organizations. These come in several forms. There are politically focused organizations advancing particular ideological or political interests. For example, there is a national organization made up of small business owners, while another works as a taxation watchdog. Others are organized around pressing social issues, and in particular disease related issues. Many activist NGOs have as their purpose fund-raising and lobbying on behalf of research into or care for such diseases as breast cancer, arthritis, and HIV/AIDS. Other activist-oriented NGOs work on behalf of broader social issues such as poverty, homelessness, and the environment.

In all cases, NGOs rely on fund-raising from the general public, although funding assistance from different levels of government is also available. Most NGOs are staffed either completely or almost completely by volunteers. Of all the industrialized countries, Canada has the distinction of having the highest level of volunteering and the highest level of charitable support of NGO activity. It should be noted, however, that this success has also allowed tax-funded social support and improvement programs to be reduced or eliminated, placing greater and greater emphasis on voluntarism for the sustaining of the social safety net, as the welfare state comes under increasing economic pressure.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. There are no specific gender-based prohibitions on participation in labor, but cultural and political values enforce a system of differential access and participation in the labor force. Health-care provision exemplifies this implicit division. Medical doctors, the highest paid and highest status health-care providers, are over-whelmingly male. In contrast, so-called ancillary health-care providers such as nurses are over-whelmingly women. Several factors contribute to this division. A distinction between healing and caring, where healing is seen as the province of science and caring the province of nurturing, has the effect of steering men into the "scientific" area of health and women, culturally more closely associated with nurturing, into the "caring" area. While this tendency continues to change, the implicit rules of division of labor persist as expressions of cultural values.

Statutory prohibitions exist against gender-based discrimination in labor, but their interpretation and enforcement has been complex and highly controversial because they come in conflict with often deeply held values of gender difference and gender roles. For example, the work-related recommendations of a federal commission on the status of women, which was convened in the 1960s, have not yet been implemented.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. In terms of explicit rules, women and men have equal standing and equal status in Canadian society. Both men and women may participate in political life, serve in government, own and dispose of property, and so on. That few women do successfully participate in official political life remains a contentious issue for many Canadians, because male-dominated networks of access to political authority and political participation continue, implicitly, to exclude women. Perhaps more important than political participation, however, are certain economic realities which indicate that the status of women relative to men remains uneven. Women are more likely to live below the poverty line, are more likely to head single-parent households, are more likely to work in the service sector, the lowest paying and most volatile sector of the labor market, and are more likely to be the subject of violence by their conjugal partner. It is important to note that the status of gender relations in any society has at least two components—the official version, that is the explicitly stated values and ideals of the society as a political entity, and the practical version, the actual nature and quality of life, risk, and participation of women relative to men.

Marriage,Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Except for some ethnic sectors, marriages are freely chosen by the two partners. Marriage is restricted to the union of a man and a woman by statute, although this is currently under review by the country's courts. Official marriages, officiated by either religious authorities or by municipal clerks or judges, must be dissolved by the legal procedure of divorce.

A second form of marriage, the de facto or common-law union, gives the couple almost all the same privileges and obligations as official marriage. Common-law union is a matter of informal declaration by the partners. Common-law conjugal recognition has recently been extended to include same-sex partners. The dissolution of common-law unions or same-sex partnerships requires no special legal proceedings, although resolution of shared property rights and support responsibilities arising from the union often require legal intervention and enforcement.

In both cases, the marriage union involves mutuality of financial support, some degree of joint ownership of property, and joint responsibility for the care and support of children. Under Canadian law, all marriages must be monogamous. The de facto or common-law union is considered to be annulled should either partner take on a new conjugal partnership.

Marriages are most often celebrated privately between the two families involved. There is, however, an interesting rural/urban distinction. Engagement or marriage celebrations in smaller communities are often community events at which anyone may attend, usually for a small fee.

Domestic Unit. The most common domestic unit is the nuclear family, made up of both parents and their children. Almost all newlywed couples start their own family unit independent of their parents. A demographic shift, which has seen a slow and steady increase in the number of elderly in Canada, has led to an increase in the number of domestic units in which one or more elderly relative can also be present. Increases in rate of divorce since the 1970s has also meant an increase in the number of single-parent households, most often headed by women.

Authority in domestic units is generally shared by adult members, though men most often exercise more power in financial and disciplinary matters than their female partners.

Skaters on the frozen Rideau Canal celebrate the Winterlude, a festival held annually in Canada.
Skaters on the frozen Rideau Canal celebrate the Winterlude, a festival held annually in Canada.

Inheritance. Inheritance radiates outward from the nuclear family to more distance relatives, with members of the immediate nuclear family taking precedence. All manner of property, as well as most if not all of a deceased person's debt, can be inherited. There are no gender differences in what can be bequeathed and what can be inherited, although in rural communities and areas there is a tendency for male children to inherit land, while female children inherit more liquid forms of property. In most instances, spouses take precedence over children in matters of inheritance. All inheritances can be contested through legal proceedings.

Kin Groups. Allowing for some ethnic variation, in general, kinship is a dispersed system of relatedness in Canada, and while there are general expectations of mutual support along kin lines, levels of which diminish with kin distance, there are no formal rules of kinship observance, other than those statutory prohibitions against marrying close kin, or criminal code provisions regarding incest. Kinship does not determine residence, though kin networks are often used to gain access to employment.


Infant Care. Infant care is most often the responsibility of the female partner in a family and is most often a private matter. As more mothers of small children enter the labor market, some professional infant care is available, though this is unevenly distributed nationally and is most often found in urban settings. Siblings may play a role in infant care, but there is no general expectation of this.

Young children are expected to be quiet in public, and mothers will take steps necessary to keep their infant children calm in public settings. Breastfeeding, though not prohibited, is rare in public, although feeding in other forms is common.

Child Rearing and Education. Child rearing is under the control of the natal family during the first several years of a child's life. While some monitoring of the treatment of very young children is done by the state, through child welfare organizations, for the most part children are cared for by their parents until the age of four or five, and parents have almost total control over how their children are cared for. Most child care responsibilities are carried out by the mother, in families with two resident parents of the opposite sex. In same sex parent families, child rearing responsibility is most likely to be shared by the two parents, and an increasing, though still very small number of opposite sex parent families are adopting this practice. However, the overwhelming majority of single parent headed households are headed by women, which reflects the key role women are expected to play in child rearing. While experts in childhood development have been active in promoting such things as early childhood education, the fact the majority of single parent female headed households with children have incomes at or below the poverty level suggests that the rearing and care of very young children is not considered socially important work by many Canadians.

Children are expected to be quiet, well-behaved, and relatively docile and are taught to show respect and deference to authority and to be obedient and submissive. Girls and boys are socialized into conventional gender roles early, through differences in dress and through limitations or direct instruction in appropriate play activities. Young children are, for the most part, excluded from important ceremonial activities such as church attendance. Their presence at public functions is considered to be at least potentially disruptive, and they are usually excluded. There has also been an increase in the number of child-free apartments, condominiums, and even housing developments in some suburban areas.

Children are required by law to attend school, or to be instructed at home under government guidelines, from the age of six to sixteen. In the 1980s and 1990s, the age at which children first attend school dropped, in some areas, to as young as four. This reflects the increase in two income households in Canada, which also lead to growth in professional daycare services for very young children. State funding of this early child care, however, was cut substantially in the final years of the 1990s making pre-school child care outside the home almost entirely the financial responsibility of parents.

In general, early childhood is a period of relative helplessness for the child, and during this period children are expected to be irresponsible and troublesome. Most of the effort of child rearing during this period is directed at controlling children's behavior and teaching the appropriate social roles. Corporal punishment, though allowed in Canada, is subject to criminal prosecution if it is excessive. Children under the age of twelve cannot be charged with criminal offenses, although their parents may be held financially responsible for their misdeeds. There has been some political lobbying to either lower that age to as low as six or, alternatively, to increase it to sixteen or eighteen. Once children enter school, child rearing becomes politically and socially complex, as state interests often come into conflict with the values and interests of parents, or with the concerns of communities as a whole. With increasing ethnic diversity, the potential for conflicts expands. Such issues as arranged marriage, male and female circumcision and other genital modification, and religious schooling are just three areas of child rearing and parental control producing substantial concern and debate in Canada.

Higher Education. Canada has the highest per capita level of postsecondary education participation of any industrialized country. All of its universities are publicly funded institutions, although students do pay tuition fees. National and provincial support programs are in place to assist students in postsecondary education.


The ethnic diversity of Canada means that rules of social propriety are quite complex. There are certain general expectations. Greeting, except in formal settings, does not require touching in the form of embraces or handshakes. Behavior in public should be subdued. Rowdiness and loud speech, for example, are considered inappropriate except under special circumstances or in places such as bars or other venues. As a community, Canadians are in general soft spoken, patient, and almost apologetic in their public behavior. They are also in general tolerant of the complex network of cultural differences in public behavior, more so in cities perhaps, where such diversity is more common place.


Religious Beliefs. Religious affiliation is more prevalent than religious observance, though this varies by ethnic and religious group. Most Canadians claim some religious affiliation, most often Christian, although between the 1981 and 1991 census periods, the number of people claiming no religious affiliation has almost doubled from about 1.7 million to a little under 3.4 million. Nevertheless, there are significant practitioners of all the major world religions in Canada. Officially, Canada is a Christian nation, with respect for the Christian God enshrined in statute. Swearing on the Bible, for example, is part of most legal proceedings, though nonsecular alternatives are also practiced. Prayers open many official functions.

Personal religious observance has declined in the last several decades, a phenomenon similar to that found in most industrialized countries. This appears to be mostly a Christian phenomenon. Often new Canadians will make special efforts to maintain their religious observances as part of the process of retaining their original ethnic or cultural identity. Some religious groups have grown in membership, such as those associated with evangelical Christianity, but overall the trend in Canada has been toward increasing secularism in public and in private lives. An exception is the increase in the observance of traditional religious practices among First Nations peoples in recent decades, which should be seen both as a spiritual revitalization and as part of the historic process of reasserting their ethnic and political identities in Canada.

Religious Practitioners. Most religious officials are associated with the mainstream world religions, although there are some ethnic differences. For example, specialist religious practitioners such as healers are common in Portuguese communities such as the one in Toronto. With changes in migration patterns, important religious practitioners associated with non-world religions, such as local religious traditions found among different people from Africa, are becoming common. Excepting

A group of children play hockey on the snow in Cape Dorset, Northwest Territories. Hockey, considered to be Canada's national sport, is popular across the nation.
A group of children play hockey on the snow in Cape Dorset, Northwest Territories. Hockey, considered to be Canada's national sport, is popular across the nation.
those religious practitioners who function for political bodies, such as the chaplain of the federal parliament, religious practitioners in general have authority in, and serve the needs of, only their own locally defined communities.

One exception is the increasing importance of First Nations spiritual leaders, who also serve as political leaders in their communities. These practitioners are often directly involved in negotiations with the wider Canadian community, and their spiritual and political roles are indivisible.

Rituals and Holy Places. There is too much religious diversity throughout Canada to make any general observations on rituals and sacred sites. Churches of many types are important locales in almost all communities, not only to practitioners of the particular religion, but also as community centers and bases of operation in community emergencies. In both large and small communities, churches are often the site of community activism and the provision of community services, such as shelter for homeless people. While religion might be said to play less and less of a role in the cultural life of Canada, religious institutions and practitioners play significant roles in nonspiritual aspects of community life.

Death and the Afterlife. The majority of Canadians believe in the Christian model of the afterlife, of heaven and of hell. Burial practices vary by religious group, but for the most part funeral and burial observances are the responsibility of the deceased's family. Funerals are both private functions, attended by family and friends, and public, as in the funeral procession from a church to a burial site. The funerals of important political or cultural figures may be televised.

Medicine and Health Care

Basic health care is provided in all places by a taxfunded system of hospitals and practitioners. Some specialist services require either complete or partial payment by the patient. The dominant medical model is Western biomedicine, though, as is the case in all ethnically diverse societies, other traditions do flourish serving local community needs, and increasingly, also serving the needs or health interests of the larger community. These "alternative" health providers may be spiritual practitioners or practitioners from other healing traditions such as acupuncture or Asian Ayurvedic systems. There is also a system of non-biomedical Western practitioners, such as chiropractors and homeopaths, who have their own training institutions and professional organizations. Except in restricted cases, these practitioners do not participate in the publicly funded health service system.

Canada has a system of public health surveillance which monitors infectious diseases, the safety of food and drinking water, and other health risks and problems.

Secular Celebrations

Canadian holidays may be either political or religious. The major celebrations, which are often marked by a statutory holiday away from work, include two religious holidays: Christmas, 25 December; and Easter, which varies from year to year. There are five main political or secular celebrations: Canada Day, 1 July; New Year's Day, 1 January; Victoria Day, which honors Queen Victoria of England and varies from year to year; Labor Day, September; and Thanksgiving, in October.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Most artists in Canada are self supporting and there are very few artists whose entire income is drawn from their artistic efforts. Several tax-funded programs, at all levels of government, do exist to provide financial assistance to artists of all types. The Governor General's Awards are presented each year to artists, writers, musicians, and other performers. There is a federal National Art Gallery, and most provinces also have one major tax-funded art gallery, usually in the provincial capital.

Literature. Canada does not have a single national literary tradition, participating instead in the wider English world of literature. While there are many internationally known writers from Canada, in general there is no single canon of Canadian literature. One exception is the province of Quebec, which has a longstanding "national" literature known for its social criticism and experimentation.

In recent decades, the number of published Canadian authors has increased dramatically, and Canadians as a community buy and read more books than in most other industrialized countries. Nevertheless, there is no special preference given to Canadian literature.

Graphic Arts. Canada has a large cohort of artists working in all media. Most small cities, and all larger ones, have many art galleries, including the tax-funded galleries. Several artist cooperatives exist in cities across the country, providing artistic and financial support for members. There is no single model for artistic presentation operating across the country.

Performance Arts. Theater ranges from professional theaters, mostly in large cities, which offer mainstream entertainment such as musical theater, to small community theater companies which can be found throughout the country. Several specialist companies or events, such as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and the Shaw Festival, both in Ontario, take place each year and are international draws.

The city of Toronto has the distinction of hosting more theater openings per year than any other city in the English-speaking world. Its theaters include large commercial venues offering mostly musical theater, several large venues for other kinds of musical performance, and a diverse range of theaters and theater companies offering both new works original to the company and works from almost every linguistic and cultural tradition.

For the most part, attendance follows class lines but with important exceptions. Smaller theaters and theater companies, and in particular those offering new, experimental or political theater, encourage and attract audiences from all classes. Indeed, that is part of their role and their goal. Many of these theater companies see themselves as activists promoting social change. This makes these theaters both performance spaces and informal NGOs, a dual role that, while not unique to Canada, is an important aspect of its political culture.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

Canada has a network of publicly funded educational and research institutions; in particular, the system of universities and colleges. These institutions train successive generations of researchers and practitioners. The physical sciences dominate these institutions, attracting most of the government sponsored funding of university research. Research in the physical sciences, and increasingly in the social sciences as well, is most often done in collaboration with industry and business interests, who also provide substantial funding for university based research. The majority of students attending these institutions receive training in the physical sciences.

The social sciences and humanities, however, do not receive the same collaborative support. Canadian

A church and townhouses line a street, with Quebec City, Quebec, behind them.
A church and townhouses line a street, with Quebec City, Quebec, behind them.
postsecondary education is based on a "liberal arts" model which recognizes the importance of breadth of scholarship in all fields of human endeavor as a key to a successful education and to success as a citizen. Both economic constraints in recent decades, as well as ideological shifts in how education is defined and valued, has led, however, to the erosion of financial support for both the social sciences and the humanities. While Canada maintains a major funding body for research in the social science and humanities, its resources have declined in recent years, which has been the object of considerable political dispute.

Although the official commitment to the humanities and social sciences, among politicians, educators, and most of the public, remains substantial, the trend has been toward an increasingly technocratic model of higher education. While education has often celebrated, championed, and enhanced the ethnic and cultural diversity of Canada, economic and political changes are shifting emphasis away from diversity in the direction of a kind of practical homogenization in which practical application and financial benefit takes precedence over the breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding. This puts the social sciences and humanities in a precarious position, as the political culture of Canada changes.


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Also read article about Canada from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

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"Marriage is restricted to the union of a man and a woman by statute, although this is currently under review by the country's courts."

This has changed due to equality provisions in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Act, 1982 entrenched in the Constiution Act, 1982. In addition, the Civil Marriage Act, 2005 or Bill C-38 defines marriage as a union between two persons (therefore, not identifying the sex/gender).
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I am another kid doing a report and I need to know Canada's housing and things about that. Could I find it on this website? If so were?
I must say it is quite interesting! I first read the article on Saudi arabia as we are hosting a student from there. I wondered, "hmn, what would such a person find out if reading a similar article about Canada"? Some statements I found comical in their truthful simplicity.

It is an informative article although I don't think it would really prepare someone from a strict Muslim country to live here. It's a good starting point however.
Thanks for your help! I couldn't get an A on my report on Canada without this site!
I am doing a research paper on Canada and this really helped me a lot. Thanks for the wonderful info!! =)
Peter Flemming
Hockey (ice hockey) is not Canada's national sport, although played almost all year. Lacrosse is Canada's national sport, officially.
My 2 Cents:

Canada is not a majority Christian Religious nation. There are many accepted religions, and many people are Atheist or Wicka or Buddhist. You should change your information because you are being politically incorrect and proving wrong information to the viewers that may come to your website.
@Peter Flemming

you would have been right 17 years ago(Records show that Lacrosse "was" the National Sport.
Lacrosse was the National Sport of Canada up until 1994)Today our National Sport is Hockey.

officially, "Ice hockey" is Canada's winter sport and Lacrosse is Canada's summer sport,even though it is played in the spring.
id like know more about how they study in university
thank you very much inded
I'm doing a essay on the 4 Atlantic provinces , "Atlantic culture and i need help , I'm in grade nine an it needs to be about 7 paragraphs any help ?
thank you so much in this site i finally have an answer in my research paper about the culture of the Canada trough this site thank you so much
thank you for publishing the history of canada.Its very helpful.
yeah, that's so useful information about cultures. great job!
Edvin from Stockholm
Thank you so much for this site! I've been doing a project on Canada and I didn't find any useful information until I found my way here...
Very interesting and informative!
makes me proud to be Canadian. thanks for the info about Canada
Thank you for the nice article. Perhaps it is worth adding that the aerospace industry is a major contributor to the economy. For example Bombardier is the world's 3rd biggest aircraft manufacturer after Airbus and Boeing and the world's 1st biggest train producer. The CAE designs aircraft trainers/simulators and is biggest company in its segment by market share. Pratt & Whitney Canada, an engine manufacturer also plays a major role together with many other suppliers scattered allover the country. Canada is actually considered to be one of the very few countries where you’re able to manufacture the complete aircraft from nose to tail, including engines. Montreal is along with Seattle, Toulouse and Hamburg considered a major aerospace hub. Cheers
Ksenia from Moscow
Thank you so much for this information! Very usefull! Great job!
hi thank you for your information thanks for the article
Junifer T. Pampanga
i love this country i like to work and live this place its like paradise to me that there are lots of beautiful places like beaches and trees and most of all very peaceful. i like peaceful places just like Canada. how can i go there hope you help me. i also want to know what is life in Canada were lots of my countrymen wants to live there. Thank you and more power...
thank you so much for this information!it is very detailed. LIKE!
Best Country in the world...period. Everything from major cities, to beautiful forest, massive lakes, winding rivers, fish, wildlife etc. all within an afternoon drive. Canada is God's playground.
Fantastic information Used it on last minute project
thanks I finally found what I was looking for!!!
I am doing a research paper on Canada and this site has help me a lot :)
After reading this entry on Canada I've come to feel a bit more proud of this country.

I used to think it was problematic that we live in tension due to the two solitudes (English/French cultural divide) and lack of coherent national identity -- but now I think that the tension is healthy... it's an honest reaction to a REAL democracy.

In fact, as an anglophone living in Quebec, I feel that tension within myself... In some ways, I do identify is a Quebecker, even though I don't feel wholly accepted. I have monolingual French friends -- and they talk in French while I talk in English, and although we can't quite speak each other's language, we understand and respect one another, and it has led to many flourishing friendships. I don't know if this kind of think happens anywhere else.

I think this page should be updated to include the fact that our government is represented by 5 distinct parties -- now including the Green Party (YAY).

As far as Canadian artists go, I recommend: Buffy Sainte-Marie. Boom.
hi!thanks for everything this page was really usefull for me.thanks alot!!!
HI,my son class have to represent Canada in the international day at school. what dance and food will you recomend me for this event?
Joseph Tetteh .S
Canada is a great Nation,i like their land,culture,policy,etc,is a country for good people to live,may God continue blessing the land and the people on the land,amen.
Thanks a lot this really helped with my geography assignment THANKS!!!
Some of this seems like old information and by looking at the sources nothing is from after 2000, with most of the contemporary sources coming form the 90's. A lot changes in 12-20 years. One example of this would be the part on marriage, as anyone can get married now not just men and women partners. Another would be there is now a larger number of Canadian who are non-religious and with more and more foreign people moving here each year it would be inaccurate to say that the predominant religious beliefs are Christian.
For those who use this as a source for projects, make sure to always cross check your information with other reliable sources. Other than that this was a good refresher and brought me back to high school social studies class haha

PS The historical/ founding section leaves a LOT out and doesn't mention the role of the French in the founding of Canada, which is a little disappointing.
samantha gangapersad
This was very helpful, well compact with all the necessary information for my project
hi im a kid that lives in canada this is all bull it suxs here and we listen to dubstep and skrillex and we head bop what up bitch
Ismail Hossain
This is not only peace full information about Canada!
i guess that,\
although not too bad!
thanks for make information !
its helpful thanks for this information and eventually its awesome and will be awesome for a long time.
Who is the author so I can cite this? I can't seem to find him/her.
that was rubish and i don not like this site because the others site is much better
Thank you so much for this article
its really helpful.. it helped me alot in my project
Decent stab at a difficult topic. I'm a Canadian living in Canada. Loads of info here, and the bibliography is full of very insightful and influencial Canadians. Aside from a couple of sterotypcial comments (not supported in the text) and the religious inaccuracies that aren't reflective of Canada in 2013, the only disagreement I have is on the symbols. Yes, it's true that the beaver is representative of many of our national social qualities (that's why it's on our coinage), but most of us wouldn't appreciate the comparison at face value! I would suggest that the primary symbol that unites all Canadians is the maple leaf. It's the symbol on our national flag, and is the predominant symbol used in instant recognition across the world (think luggage tags, backpack patches, collar pins, passport). This is why our national hockey teams at all levels display the maple leaf on the front of their jersies. The oldest pro hockey club in North America is the Toronto Maple Leafs -- big leaf on their jersey! It grows well in the northern latitudes and is ubiquitous throughout Canada -- think the largest boreal forest in the world. In many locales (esp Québec), the sugar maple is tapped for it's sap in the spring to produce the finest maple syrup in the world. Besides food, it provided for the First Peoples and the early European settlers in many other integral ways: shelter; fuel; sport (hockey and lacrosse); transportation and security (ships); protection of the myriad forest animals that provided clothing, food, a way of life and of earning (trapping, hunting), access to export markets...the list is long. In short, the nation's culture and values (including our First Peoples) were - and still are - present in the maple.
Great site love the text i wouldn't have been able to do my project without you and I got a 100 by the way
that was awesome! who wrote it? they did a good job.
this website is so useful every person who needs to know a lot about Canada should go here
not a person
i like this website cuz it gives u a little bit of everything.
It's really helps me so much to do my English essay thank you so much.
Very useful for stuff about Canada. Thanks people who wrote this! :)
Thanh Nguyen
Awesome! Thanks a lot for the article! I found most of what I need in this of yours!! Thanks again

Cheers, Thanh
Leslie coats
It is a great website for school and my teacher loves it too Cus im in 6th grade and this website is awesome and some people might not like it but I do alot
Sierra Pena
Love this website this is helping me alot with my project for social studies
I love this site. It is the best way to find what you are looking for.
Cindy Smith
it helped me a lot on my social studies project thanks a lot!!!
This site was very helpful.
I needed information fast
and this was definitely a
very well thought, and
written site. Thank you
for all the good information:)
this website helped alot for laguage arts thanks :)
we are having multicultural day here at school and i need this information
Katlyn Sherrill
Thanks I'm taking online classes so right now I have geography this has really helped a lot. :)
Latrisca M
This is use full it gives you alot of infirmation of what happened in the past. What also people don know is that there is a website like this that provides all this infirmation! so thank you!
Dijon Washington
This was an awesome website I am doing an project on Canada and this has really helped me
Alex Gutier
This is a very interesting article, and as a Canadian I can say that most of it is very accurate. However, some of your information is very out of date and no longer true. For example, Canadians have had gay marriage rights for over ten years. If you use this for a project, be sure to check the facts and take it with a grain of salt.
hELLo daRkNesS mY oLD fRiEnD
holy cow! that's a lot of info, I'm sure it will be really helpful for my presentation! ^__^
Aaden the Minecraft expert
wow I could do my project with this info with like, 100 pages!
dude this is a nice website and like it i am going to use it
this is a good website for culture research and it help me with my project is s.s
this is a great web site it helped me with my work thank you
This has great info about Canada but needs for be updated as a few things have changed in these facts. The most recent dates for Stats are 1996; that's over 20 years ago. But otherwise this info is a good starting point but not the complete picture.
hi i am a kid too i know about canada because i am from canada
I love how informational this article is. I am an 8th grader the has to do a presentation about Canada and this helped me tremendously. Thank you for making this for all the people that neede the information for what they are doing too. Love this and hope all the people that come to this page next get what the need and do really good on what they are doing. ^_^
Thank you for the informative details on Canada. It really help me on my class country presentation. :)
I really liked this because it was so descriptive. Even though it was a little too long it was very informational for my project at school. I am doing a project on Canada and it was amazing for my classwork. I am in 4th grade and it's hard to find stuff this informational.
Your comments about the automotive industry used to be true, however there have been many changes. GM has pulled out a lot of operations for cheaper labour in Mexico. Government won't admit it, but the financial strain has increased dramatically. Those 35 and younger are struggling to get by on 3 or 4 minimum wage part time jobs with no insurance. Education is very expensive, the country is more interested in 'importing' ready made / educated specialists than in making training available to citizens here, which is creating growing tensions. Any report that proudly says they've 'created x number of jobs' isn't revealing how many of those are temporary, minimum wage with no benefits. Canadians pay astronomically high prices for internet, cellphone service, dental service, car insurance, ect. Living here is very expensive compared to wages.

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