Saturday, August 25, 2007

American Culture in Canada - Early 1900's

The American Cultural Invasion of Canada - Early 1900’s

Since the Great War, the Canadian relationship to the British Empire had been slowly evolving, being reduced in importance by the presence of American influence in Canada. Some even started talking about the imperialism of the United States, “economic in character” and where its control was diffused and gradual, making it difficult to assess.

In economic terms, according to the statistics compiled by the Canadian Department of Trade and Commerce, Canadian imports from the U.S. had been steadily increasing, reaching 69% in 1929. While Canadian imports from the United Kingdom, for example, had decreased to a low of 15% by the same year. In his dissertation on Canadian opposition to American empire,” John Weaver has shown how the aggressive economic policies of Herbert Hoover in the United States created and sustained a vast bureaucratic machine to exploit opportunity in Canada, thereby explaining the new trade relation between Canada and the U.S. But all British Dominions like Canada also were made vulnerable to encroachments from other countries due to the weakened state of the imperial center in Britain, a result of the Great War.

But other historical factors played a role as well such as the Alaska Boundary dispute. American economic dominance in Canada was just one variant of the ever changing dynamic between these two neighbors. Cultural penetration of the United States into Canada, especially in terms of popular literature and books, was another. As early as in 1912, for example, the import magazine market in Canada was monopolized by the United States to the degree of 90%, as opposed to British magazines making up a mere 7% of the marketplace.

After the war, the death knell for British magazines in Canada was accelerated: wartime disruptions had resulted in increased prices among other things compared to the price of their American equivalents. American magazines became so pervasive that for some, whole cities “beheld the imprint of the Unites States.”

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