13 MARCH 1953, Page 15


Canada Today

sul.-1 read Mr. Desmond E. Henn's article (February 27th) with both interest and criticism. I am tempted to wonder if Mr. Henn really knows Canada. To begin with, it is quite true that the Customs is the only outward indication to travellers that they are entering another country. This is the way Canadians like it; neither they nor their neighbours approve of armed guards on this border. But the watchful traveller would soon detect differences in accent, for the Canadian is as different from the American-as-the American is from the British. Con- trary to Mr. Henn's quotation, Canadian civilisation is mainly modelled on the Scottish way of life. In Montreal, an English-French city, the débutantes will wear tartan sashes when presented, and right across Canada the 25th of January is celebrated in true style. And Canadian public holidays are practically the same as the U.K., with the addition of the 24th May, Queen Victoria's birthday.

It is true that Canadians pay for their prosperity, which is reflected in taxes, but who doesn't However. I have known Canadians who have been given grants, based on Canadian standards of living, to study in the United States, and who have found to their dismay that it was impossible to live on these grants. Cigarettes, it is true, are cheaper in the U.S. The tobacco is grown there; Canadian tobacco has to be imported. 9asoline is also cheaper in the U.S., but on the other hand the American gallon is smaller than the Canadian, which is rather deceptive even to the critical eye. Canada, like her neighbour, has been able to show a substantial surplus in her budget during the last few years. Canadians on the whole are not too dismayed by this, for it now seems that they will have one-third less to pay in income tax during this coming year. Canadians will not have to suffer further delay by having the St. Lawrence Waterway Project talked out in the U.S. Senate. Britain, I hear, plans to invest in this scheme, which has invoked much,approval in Canada.

It was a surprise to learn that Canadians believe "that the price they must pay for their prosperity is the almost complete extinction of their national identity." Mr. Henn mentions three conditions under which national identity may be fulfilled. In the first he states "easy and frequent access to any of its parts "; and this, coupled with No. 2 of his conditions, is "present in Britain." No doubt it takes four days and four nights to cross Canada by train, but less than a day by air, and there are no hitches. Has Mr. Henn tried to go from Cambridge to Oxford (via Bletchley) by train, taking into account that there is no alternative air-service ?

The division of Canada. e.g., English-French (and I think that most Canadians will agree), does not exist these days. Mr. Henn. however, realises that the East-West (Canadian) barrier does exist, but it is one which has been built by Ottawa itself. Representation in Parliament is by population, and Ottawa has ensured that all industry is kept in the East, causing serious shortages of power but further ensuring that the density of population will remain where it is. This, mind you, in spite of the fact that British Columbia comes second to Quebec with regards water-power and Ontario only third. Water-power development in British Columbia in 1950 was only half that of Ontario. However, Ottawa was rather short-sighted in allowing oil to be discovered in the West. This, I think, will lead to many changes in Canada, particularly in Ottawa.

Religious differences are settled quietly and are only aired during poiiiical excitement. These occur about as frequently as the issues concerning the Stone of Scone. Mr. Henn states that "English-

nadians " (?) "tend to maintain their devotion to the Commonwealth tie simply because they consider it the least disagreeable alternative to becoming facsimile Americans." It seems odd, therefore, that Canadians should have waited for hours to cheer the then Princess Elizabeth on her Royal Tour, in frigid temperatures at Winnipeg, in sleet at Regina, in snow at Calgary and in rain at Victoria "simply because they consider it the least disagreeable alternative to becoming facsimile Americans." It seems very odd indeed that Canada. headed by our (French-Canadian) Prime Minister, should proclaim our gracious Queen Queen of Canada before she was proclaimed Queen in Britain. Mrl. Henn might have heard of Mr. Lester Pearson, who has reminded Americans that Canada is a nation, and it was not a "timid and half- hearted patriotism" which prompted this. There is indeed great devotion to the Crown, but this is no greater than the devotion to Canada herself.

It is silly to argue the point that Canada offers little in the way of scientific or academic research. Chalk River in Ontario played no mean part in atomic research during the war and is continuing for peace- time purposes only. There are the National Research Council (super- sonics research, atomic power research, chemical, metallurgical, medical,

&c.),- the Defence Research Board, the Fisheries Research Board and the Dominion Experimental Stations (of which there are twenty-nine) to mention only a few. The flow of Canadians emigrating to the U.S. is no greater than the number of Americans emigrating to Canada. During the year ending March 31st, 1949, some 7.300 immigrants were admitted from the U.S. and some 4,600 Canadians returned after residing in the United States.

American literature comes across the border, it is true. but I have read Scottish newspapers in England, and have seen Cora' nental publications on sale, and consider that these contribute to a much-needed exchange of thought. Canadians are quite capable of separating the wheat from the chaff. One final word. Mr. Henn states in his last paragraph some- thing about "the administrative merger so warmly advocated by many Americans" and to this I can quote from the New York Daily Mirror, February 20th, 1952, which hailed Canada as a "good housekeeper." The last paragraph reads, "Every now and then you hear people say Canada should be taken into the United States. Maybe we ought to reverse that and say : Please, Canada, take us in ' ! "—Yours faithfully, EDYTHE M. SMART.

54 Grantchester Meadows, Cambridge.

P.S. The most important part of a woman's letter. I am a Canadian, and have spent two and a half extremely pleasant years living and working in England.