A culture is the set of customs, traditions, and values of a society. It represents an accumulation of knowledge, experience and practices developed over time.
All of western civilization has its roots in Europe. Canadian culture — at least the dominant culture in Canada — is derived from European culture. The countries in Europe share a common root language, ancestry, similar religious background (both Christian and pagan), seasonal differences, holidays, ethnic dress and food, family traditions and values. These cultural elements are not shared by other cultures, such as those of Asian, African, or Arab peoples. For example, only the European culture celebrates Christmas; other cultures do not (unless a particular group has decided to adopt Christmas) (See Source #1).
A culture reflects a particular people group. When we speak of Canadian culture, we are speaking of people with a European background, and those from other backgrounds who have assimilated into the dominant culture. A shared culture holds a society together.
In several of the preceding posts, the authors have expressed concern about the loss of our culture. What exactly is this culture we are so concerned about? For decades, writers and historians have attempted to define our culture in a few universal descriptive statements, but without much success.
We can say, however, that Canadian culture includes the following distinctive cultural elements:
The Land – Who is not affected by the awesome landscapes and opportunities for outdoor activities we currently enjoy? And many Canadians rely on the land for their livelihoods.
Our Society – The Judeo-Christian basis for our ethics, law and other underpinnings of our society
Our Government – A Westminster-style parliamentary democracy
Our History – Canada has an exciting history involving the early fur trade, the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Charlottetown Conference, etc. (#2)
Our Weather – All Canadians talk about the weather. Upon meeting someone, almost always the weather is the first topic of conversation. Canadians love telling stories about “The Big Storm of …”.
Our Military Contributions – On Remembrance Day, we honour the many Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We remember the battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele in World War I; the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan and Battle of the Atlantic in World War II.
Our National Symbols like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (the “CBC”) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the “RCMP” or the “Mounties”).
Our universal, publicly-funded Health Care System
Our Two Official Languages
Our reputation for politeness and decency
Our tolerance of other cultures
Hockey, Curling and Lacrosse
The discovery of Insulin in 1922 by Dr. Frederick Banting and a team of researchers at the University of Toronto supervised by J.J.R. Macleod. In 1923, Banting and Macleod received the Nobel Prize for their discovery.
The CF-105 Avro Arrow – a delta-winged interceptor aircraft, built by Avro Canada, which incorporated technical advancements and provided aerodynamic performance far ahead of its time. Unfortunately, due to increasing costs and a lack of foreign buyers, the Avro Arrow project was terminated in February, 1959.
The Group of Seven landscape painters
Music – Anne Murray, the Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive, etc.
Humour – Wayne & Shuster, Bob & Doug McKenzie, Rick Mercer, etc.
Tim Horton’s coffee
This list is most certainly incomplete, and you are invited to add your suggestions (click the ‘Contact’ button for our e-mail address).
Canadian culture reflects our European roots and our history as a country. If Canada’s immigration policy continues to favour non-European immigrants from cultures very different from our own, and the proportion of Canadians of European descent continues to decline, our culture will be lost forever.
Photo by Andrian Valeanu on Unsplash