Canada and the United States have a unique relationship. They certainly maintain boundaries toward one another, but their cultures are remarkably similar. In fact, it is rare to find two countries that are so similar in nature, even directly across borders. Canada and the United States share many social, artistic and education related values, giving them closely matched cultural values. A closer inspection of the two countries reveals their differences, but on a surface level, the number of values the share is great.
The social values of the United States are very individualistic. There are pockets of collectivist thinking, for example in the south along the gulf coast, but on the whole, people who live in the United States are taught to look out for themselves primarily and others secondarily. This has origins in many factors, including the capitalist market of the United States. Canada’s social sensibilities are much more of a blend between individualistic and collectivist. Canada has many socialized systems set in place, such as the healthcare system, which trains its citizens to be accountable to one another to a far greater degree than in the United States.
The arts are very similar between Canada and the United States, but are still unique. Both Canada and the United States have very vibrant music scenes that are frequently indistinguishable from one another. Canada produces more rock while the United States is more heavily producing electronic music. The Canadian film industry is also growing exponentially and producing top quality, high budget films, but it will still be a while before it can touch the United States’ mecca of film production. Both countries produce writers and artists at a rate equivocal to their population size.
And lastly, the education system in either country is comparable to the other. In the United States, the quality of public education tends to be related to the region’s social economics, where as in Canada, public education is slightly more consistent across different social economic regions. Both countries contain well respected secondary education institutions at a rate that is proportionate to their population.
Canadian media and arts are a source of great pride for Canadians. Many Canadian artists, writers, directors and musicians have become world famous for their contributions. A number of Canadian creative and performance artists have easily ranked at the levels of those from the United States. In fact, it is very common for the public to believe a star or creative talent is from the United States when they are actually from Canada.
In the film industry, Canadians are excelling and closely gaining on the film studios and talents of the United States. Film rights in Canada are very cheap as compared to the lower mainland, so many film studios film in Canada. A number of well known directors and film producers are matriculating from Canada to Hollywood. As for actors, Hollywood is full of celebrities who come from the Great White North, such as Jim Carrey, Ryan Gosling, Seth Rogen and Ryan Reynolds. The Canadian film industry has a ways to go before it can be compared to the super power of the film industry, Hollywood, but it is rising in influence every day.
The music industry is another place you are likely to find talented and famous Canadians. Canadian music has a much longer history than Canadian films and recognizable songs can be dated back to the 1800’s. Modern musical talent coming out of Canada includes names like Alanis Morisette, Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber, Drake, Sarah McLachlan, Michael Buble, Shania Twain, Celine Dion and Bryan Adams. More historical Canadian musicians include Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell.
Even the writers emerging from Canada are noteworthy. Margaret Atwood is a beloved Canadian writer who has received the Booker Prize for fiction on numerous accounts. Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje won the Booker Prize for The English Patient, which was adapted into an academy award winning film. The creative talent that emerges from Canada is impressive and will no doubt continue to grow and flourish.
Socialized medicine is an attribute of Canada that sets it apart from other countries. Canada is not identified as being a socialist country by definition, but it certainly carries out some socialist traditions. The healthcare system of Canada is its most recognizable socialist feature, but it is hardly the only one. The socialized healthcare paved the way for the strength of other admirable social sensibilities, such as traffic safety, care for the land and sportsmanship.
Many people who travel from the United States to Canada remark on what an improvement the traffic conditions are. Drivers in Canada have a stronger sense of social awareness while they are on the road. Canadian traffic moves more as a collective unit than it does in the United States where individualism run rampant and is championed over collectivism. Canadian drivers have a stronger sense for who they are sharing the road with and how to drive for the good of the group. For this reason, residents of Canada are trusted by the law enforcing agencies to take slightly higher speeds than United States residents are permitted to take.
Canadians tend to keep their cities cleaner than residents of the United states do, and generally have a bit more respect for litter reduction in the natural areas. This is not to say that Canada is necessarily a more sustainable country than the United States. The pollution that Canadians create, particularly around the oil sands of Alberta, is very destructive to Canadian air quality. But as a whole, there is fewer graffiti, litter and refuse in Canadian cities and wild spaces than in the United States.
And lastly, Canadian socialism makes Canadians very sportsmanlike. Canadians take great pride in their national sports, such as hockey, curling and badminton. Physical activity and sports are a deeply ingrained way of life for Canadians, and may include organized team sports or individualistic sports, like hiking and skiing. Canadians can be fiercely competitive and passionate about their sports.
Canadians possess a lifestyle that is very particular to Canada. In the heart of Western civilization but also starkly northern, Canada is a unique blend of first world nation meets the Great White North with a high quality of life. The whole world recognizes Canadian stereotypes and symbols, including the maple leaf, the flannel clothes, the hockey gear and the uniquely Canadian accent. Some of these things are as prevalent as the stereotypes would have you believe while others are embellished.
Canadian winters play a very significant part in the Canadian lifestyle. The cold that sets in during fall and retreats during spring is part of the national identity and rhythm of Canada. Few other countries know how to navigate a harsh winter like Canada does. Everywhere in Canada receives snow in the winter in different amounts, with no exceptions. Areas like the warm Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, the Badlands of Alberta and the temperate climate of Vancouver have mild winters, while areas such as Northern Alberta and the Yukon can reach bone chilling temperatures of below 60 or 80. Needless to say, the Canadian population is well adjusted to cold winters, and knows how to meet them head on with winter clothes, toques, skis, sleds and snow shoes. Snow is a way of life in Canada. In many places in Canada, the cold winter conditios give way to addiction and substance abuse, such as addiction Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Whitehorse.
The outdoors are another large consideration to Canada. The cold, rugged, moist land of Canada is not quite as desirable to live in as the land in the United States, yet the land mass itself makes Canada the second biggest country in the world. This leaves Canada with a small population compared to the size of the country itself. That means that almost all Canadian cities are surrounded by many miles of wilderness. Most Canadians are used to seeing bears and deer not far from home, as well as having to trek through thick, non-plowed snow after a storm. Canada is heavily wooded and full of thick vegetation in all its cities. Most Canadians grow up climbing trees and running around forests.
Canadians are frequently referred to as a nation of people who have the good fortune of being surprised when something goes wrong. This is because, since Canada’s formation in 1867, the Canadian population has maintained a stable way of life and has had far less involvement in wars and global conflict than the United States. Canada is situated in land that was slightly less desirable than the United States, resulting in a smaller population that did not have to compete as violently for their right to the land. Canada is considered a federal monarchy with many socialist values, and the population does indeed have strong social sensibilities and awareness. Being smaller in population, less influential and slightly more out of the way than the United States, Canada has had the privilege of more privacy than its neighbor to the south. All of these factors have resulted in a stable economy, way of life and cultural climate for Canada.
This is where Canadians get their reputation for being so polite and agreeable. When political, economical and social matters remain fairly predictable, everyone is happy and accommodating. This is not to say that Canadians are passive, however. Canadians are fiercely patriotic people, with a loyalty to their country that is a matter of principle. They take pride in their cultural identity and the ways that Canada is unique among nations. Canadians are also self aware enough to know how fortunate they are to be Canadian. Canada is consistently voted to be a country with one of the best qualities of life in the world, and Canadians do not take this for granted. They honor this privilege with a strong sense of responsibility to their social systems so that everyone may continue to enjoy this quality of life. On the whole, the cleanliness, respect for personal safety and property, and respect for civil obligations is much higher than in other countries. Canadians protect their way of life and balance collectivism and individualism in equal parts.