Colby Cosh: Why Canadians are better republicans

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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35 Responses

  1. Will H. says:

    To my knowledge, New Mexico is the only state which maintains a palace.

    Virginia used to have one, but it burned a long time ago, and was re-built to be a museum.

    New Mexico has maintained its palace for over 400 years, from the fall of Oñate.Report

  2. notme says:

    I thought Canadians didn’t brag about themselves.Report

  3. dragonfrog says:

    Baron Conrad Black of Crossharbour is not a Canadian, so he doesn’t have fellow Canadians. He renounced his Canadian citizenship in order to accept the peerage and sit in the House of Lords.

    That he has since grown bored of British politics and claimed that he only meant to temporarily renounce his citizenship and would like to be Canadian again, doesn’t change that fact.Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    Is this really true or is it wish thinking?

    The Canadian novelist Robertson Davies writes about the Scots Presbyterian heritage of Canadians and also about the importance of being an old Torotonian. One of his characters converts to high church Anglucanism because it is seen as more mainstream and higher on the social esteem than being a dour Presbyterian.

    This seems like a brag and a set up for no true Canadian.Report

    • Brent F in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Toronto circa the era Robertson Davies grew up in and wrote about had that kind of hierarchy. I’m decended on the patrilineral line from that local ruling class.

      They got swamped by migration two generations ago as Toronto transformed from an colonial regional centre of a dead empire into a metropole of its own right. Nobody has really cared about Scots Presbyterians or old Torontonians since the 70s. Once the local Catholics got past them the game was up. Most of the old stock married out and they didn’t have nearly the numbers or entrenched power to keep risers out of the club.

      Cosh is a gen-Xer from small town Alberta. By the time he grew up that old system was dead.

      Same with the old money in Vancouver while Montreal is a very complicated story that takes too much time to explain. Calgary never really had it in the first place because the place was basically built as a city by fortune seekers from elsewhere, their establishment is entirely new money.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Brent F says:


        Different examples Wings and Horns and DSquared are two Canadian clothing companies. They sell very expensive casual wear. How do you square the founding of luxury brands with the claims of the essay?

        I am generally highly suspicious of X doesn’t care about Y because we are totes advanced articles.Report

        • Brent F in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Luxury brands are the purview of any economic upper middle class or upper class. Cosh isn’t claiming that Canada lacks those.

          He’s claiming the absence of an entrenched heritary class that can put on airs of being socially distinct from the masses. To draw an example from the National Post writers, Andrew Coyne is from about as patrician a social background from the national metropolis as one can be in this country and went to the top national university, Colby Cosh is from lower middle class types in a rural area of a remote region and went to the local university. The two of them would find the idea that one could put on airs over the other to be completely laughable.

          The crux of Cosh’s argument is that Canadian society is too young and spent its history in too much flux for a real aristocratic or patrician class to develop. The ones that have existed temporarily get broken up and the real lords and masters were always in a different country. Likewise, the nature of the politcal system prevents the political class from attempting any kind of separation from the masses.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Brent F says:

            People said that about the United States in the 19th and early 20th century as well.

            They also said that the Lodges only speak to the Cabots and the Cabots only speak to God at the same time.Report

    • Maribou in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      @saul-degraw While I love Robertson Davies as a writer, he was (and even more so is) treated by most as a relic (love him or hate him) of a bygone era – the 50s, really, and the part of the 60s that wasn’t The Sixties yet.

      You can’t have a (social) upper class if no one else takes them seriously.Report

  5. North says:

    I’m sympathetic to the article since it echoes some of my own lines of thinking re: the monarchy. I’d think people would find it amusing that the Americans separated from the over powered English sovereign and set up the presidency to be a mostly symbolic and limited power head of state and that over the course of intervening history the Sovereign they separated from has transformed into basically the ideal they sought while the Presidency they created has evolved into an allegedly over powered sovereign.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

      A lot of the Constitution comes from some very misremembered ideas about how the British monarchy was supposed to function after the Glorious Revolution but without paying particular attention to what happened since than.Report

    • notme in reply to North says:

      Amusing? No, it’s BS. Canadians may think they’re better than us but the truth is that they got a good start under the Brits and had the good fortune to be friends with the US, the biggest kid on the block.Report

      • North in reply to notme says:

        So basically instead of precipitously bailing out of the Empire they cooled their jets and gained practical independence minus the revolutionary and subsequent civil war? Pretty good record I’d say.
        Also the “friendship” wasn’t some kind of fortunate coincidence, it was a conscious decision on both sides.Report

        • notme in reply to North says:

          They stayed with the Brits long enough to be used as cannon fodder in WW1.

          It was lucky that they were geographically located next to the US, a large, powerful and friendly neighbor.Report

          • North in reply to notme says:

            Oh yes, that’s right the US didn’t fight in WW I.

            It’s hardly luck, it’s history, both sides put some not inconsiderable effort into keeping the neighborly relations friendly. And up to the 1900’s the roles were reversed and it was America that was lucky it was located next to a large powerful and friendly neighbor.Report

            • notme in reply to North says:

              We fought in WW1 but it was our choice not bc we were colonists.Report

              • North in reply to notme says:

                Well you have a complete lack of understanding of how the British Empire governed itself. When the Empire went to war it was with the acquiescence and support of HRM’s elected governments in the various colonies (though in the case of India a good case can be made that it was not a representative government). So the Canadians chose to fight WWI for good and for ill.Report

  6. LeeEsq says:

    You can say the same thing about Australia. A lot of this has to do with Canada and the other commonwealth countries were at best medium powers than having a monarchy.Report

    • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

      You could but the Canadians* sorted out responsible government almost a decade before the rest of the commonwealth did.

      *Or rather the colonies that would confederate to become Canada.Report

  7. Maribou says:

    Something I’ve been thinking about lately (thanks, Lin Manuel Miranda) is how much 19th century Canada benefited from the American Revolution. Because it was the stick to the carrots we were holding out … “Do you really want to go through all THAT again? Without us on your side for the War-of-1812 repeat?” I don’t think it was *said*, but it also didn’t really *need* to be said. (not sure what was said, due to a faulty grasp of 19th century diplomacy because we spent all our time on european history. one downside to even the most liberated former-colony status… (the us is not a former colony, it’s an EX colony…)).Report

  8. Oscar Gordon says:

    Leaving aside the accuracy of Cosh’s claims regarding Canadians, his criticisms of the US are spot on. We grant our political class far too many airs, to our detriment.Report