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Canadian, Eh?


Puggled and Wabbit Scot.
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Who’s “you lot” in this conversation. Last I checked you were Canadian, and given your age a lot closer to the people who took possession of the arctic than the rest of us.

I wanted to take another run at this one. Without the snark this time. I can get a bit tetchy on the subject. At times it has been hard to know if I am a Canadian or not. I could have had a lot more holidays if I had accepted every offer to send me back where I came from.

Born in Scotland, moved to London, then the Midlands, then Peterboro, Ontario. Then moved to Alberta, then to Saskatchewan, back to Ontario, then Alberta, then Indiana, then BC and back to Alberta.

I have been called a Scot in England, an Englishman in Scotland, a Brit in Canada, a Canuck in the States and a whole lot of other names from people I have met along the way, including Goralog, Gaijin, Gweilo and roundeye. I guess I just bring out the best in people. :giggle:

Given that I find myself at a bit of a loss when trying to figure out what I am allowed to call myself.

Things are further complicated by the change of circumstances that I encountered in the 1970s. Some of the problem was Trudeau Senior's doing and some of it was Ted Heath's doing.

My family came to Canada in 1966. My uncle preceded us about 1958.

The terms under which we came to Canada were broadly the same terms under which Mahatma Gandhi traveled to the UK and South Africa. We came as subjects of the British Crown. The passport that was issued was the same passport that was issued everywhere the Union Jack flew. That entitled the bearer to the same rights and privileges everywhere they were granted entry. A British subject expected to be treated the same way everywhere they roamed. That included voting in local elections.

As I said those rules applied to Gandhi. They also applied to Nehru and Jinnah who studied in England, to Chaim Herzog who was born in Belfast, and to the Sikhs of the Komagatu Maru. They allowed the diffusion of Indians and Chinese, as well as Brits, through-out the Empire. This worked well for some. But just as today, it didn't go down well with many locals. Nationalism was on the rise and in Canada you can see elements of that in Sam Hughes's antipathy towards the Brits, the rejection of the Sikhs on the Komagatu Maru and the imposition of a the Head Tax on Japanese and Chinese. You can also see its development through the Statute of Westminster 1931 and the autonomy achieved by the Dominions, including Canada.


That seems to have been THE YEAR. Independence of India. Independence of Israel. Rise of the Marshall Plan, NATO, CIA, USAF..... The world changed. It changed from London to New York and Washington. And Canada changed with it.

Naturalization Act (British subject) [May 22, 1868, to December 31, 1946]​

Before January 1, 1947, a person born or naturalized in Canada was considered a British subject. The terms “Canadian citizen” and “Canadian citizenship” used in some statutes before that date did not create the legal status of Canadian citizen.

Canadian Citizenship Act [January 1, 1947]​

Up to January 1, 1947, there was no legal status of Canadian citizens, only British subjects. This Act gave legal recognition to the terms “Canadian citizen” and “Canadian citizenship”. The Act established who was and who could become a Canadian citizen. There were many provisions for loss of citizenship, including retention provisions for the first and subsequent generations born outside Canada. The Act also contained provisions which provided special treatment for British subjects. In general, Canadian citizens who acquired citizenship of another country automatically lost Canadian citizenship (dual citizenship was not recognized).

1947 was when residents of Canada became Canadians.

As is well known by all the move towards a more Canadian identity continued culminating in the adoption of the Maple Leaf in 1964 and ultimately full independence from the UK and the Constitution of 1982.

But between 1964 and 1982 there some other goings on.


Citizenship Act [February 15, 1977]​

The Citizenship Act, effective February 15, 1977, replaced the 1947 Act with a more equitable statute. For example, British subjects no longer received special treatment and dual citizenship became recognized. There was only one provision for automatic loss of citizenship, limited to persons born in the second or subsequent generation outside Canada unless they took steps to retain their citizenship by their 28th birthday.

We came to Canada in 1966. I was welcomed to Canada on the playground and in the forecourt of the local cemetery adjacent to the school. It was quite the ceremony. The whole school attended. I needed a bit of patching up afterwards.

That was a short, sharp introduction. I made some good friends. I also had more less than salubrious moments before I got out of grade 10.

This is not a moan. This is a recitation.

In any case, by the time I was 16, 1972, and it was clear the way the winds were blowing my father was adamant that we should all become Canadian citizens. All good and no complaints. Again, this is a recitation not a whinge.


At the beginning I said that the situation was only partly attributable to Trudeau, Sr. Part of the situational change was due to Ted Heath back in Britain. In 1972 Ted Heath, as PM of the UK, signed the European Communities Act to join the UK with Europe, reversing a few hundred years of history and severing the ties between Britain and the Commonwealth. The Empire, and Commonwealth, had effectively been a globe spanning free trade zone with freedom of movement. There were a fair number of people that sat at Westminster that came from India, Asia and Africa. There was even a Jewish Prime Minister.

That all ended when Heath joined the EEC/EU. Britain turned its back on the world and faced into Europe.

Concurrent activity? Nixon shifted off the Bretton Woods gold standard, Britain devalued the pound and replaced Pounds, Shillings and Pence (a great instructional tool for budding mathematicians - working in base 10, 12 and 20) with the decimal pound.


So I have to look to Pearson, Trudeau, Heath and even Nixon to find the causes of our changes in circumstance.


One of the members here was discussing multi-culturalism and its rise in Canada and was suggesting that it was an evolution of sorts. I suggested that it was more of a switch than a rheostat. And that switch was flipped circa 1972.

And the first direct impact was the arrival of the refugees from Vietnam.


I have had a lot of opportunity, over the years, to compare and contrast circumstances. Let's just say, that at the end of the day I can understand those new Canadians that find themselves a bit adrift, a bit betwixt and between.

Now, mileage may vary and not all new Canadians will experience things the same way and some settle in immediately.

But for many ... things are different.


The phenomenon of new Canadians trying out Canada for a while, then heading back "home", then coming back to Canada, that is not a new phenomenon.


Final thoughts:

I have enjoyed my life. Wife and kids. Roof over head. Food on table. Canada has been good to me. It has treated me well, despite the early welcoming ceremony.

I do have to say I take issue when people describe me as being privileged. There were days that it didn't feel like that.

But given the alternatives, sooner where I am than where I came from.

Cheers all. And thanks.