Canada: The silent giant

Canada, would you believe it, is not that old, gaining formal independence from Great Britain in 1867. As the nation approached its centennial year, Lester B. Pearson, a prominent Canadian statesman who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his part in resolving the Suez Canal Crisis, observed that the country was still young, very much in its formative stages.
“Our national condition is still flexible enough that we can make almost anything we wish of our nation,” he said. “No other country is in a better position than Canada to go ahead with the evolution of a national purpose devoted to all that is good and noble and excellent in the human spirit.”
Pearson was a very informed and gifted individual, courtesy of his innate intellectual disposition, his brilliant education and the various positions he occupied in government, which included the top job of prime minister. He saw Canada to be different, more in control of itself, less noisy than its neighbours America or its former rulers Britain.
This is not to be mistaken for isolationism, as Canada has always been active on an international stage, but where it has differed is in its restraint. It has never acted vociferously in promoting an ideology and a way of life on other countries.
Although it shares with America an ancestry of mixed nationalities, and is today as multicultural as nations go, it perhaps possesses more of an understanding of how different cultures mix and preserve their independence than its neighbour.
While in the US, a collective identity is espoused, Canada is more inclined to let people make their own decisions as to how they define themselves. Rough Guides captured it fluently by saying the country had “fostered an ethnic mosaic”, a celebration of all cultures.
Therefore, its distinct politics and orientation have been a notable contribution to institutions like the World Trade Organisation. It offers, you could argue, a distinct way of looking at things.
Or we could argue that Canada might have been a little prepossessed with itself for much of the twentieth century purely because it is an absolute giant of a country, the second biggest in fact, behind only Russia. Fascinatingly, its population is one-fifth of Russia’s, with much of the land unoccupied. The majority of its people, therefore, are huddled within 200 kilometres of its border to America.
This has allowed it to preserve much of its natural beauty. Because Canada effectively stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, it is a decidedly kaleidoscopic country, distinguished for its motley landscapes and panoramic views.
Only in Canada is it possible to have serrated-like mountains, diaphanous lakes, luscious verdant and flourishing backdrops, flourishing forests and endless stretches of wilderness, to all intents, left to its own devices.
No wonder then that it is one of the most liveable places in the world. The Economist Intelligence Unit found that alongside Australia, Canada offers people from all demographics a quality way of life across the board (education, healthcare, political and social stability, culture and environment).
Vancouver was found to be the third most liveable city in the world – after Vienna in Austria and Melbourne in Australia– with Toronto and Calgary coming in a respectable fourth and fifth place respectably. That’s quite a statement: that three out of the top five most liveable cities can be found in the North American country.
British professionals considering moving to Canada will be pleased to hear that the country also stands out in the high quality of life experienced by people from the UK. In the spring of 2011, NatWest International found in a comprehensive study that 92 per cent of British expats in Canada were happy with their professional careers and 90 per cent rated financial security as being excellent.
Speaking at the time, Stephen Davis, an expat in Toronto, said Canada was great because it was orientated around a meritocratic society, which is well-organised and where salaries are reasonable.
“The country’s economy is relatively sound,” he added. “And almost everyone has access to high quality healthcare. While no country can ever be perfect, I’m personally very glad I live here.”
It’s a revelation almost why Canada, in comparison to other nations, gets so little press. Everything that we could aspire for seems to be occurring in the expansive country, and so good is it, it’s as if the rest of the world doesn’t want to know, diminished as it is in comparison.
Bill Clinton knew this all too well: “In a world darkened by ethnic conflicts that tear nations apart, Canada stands as a model of how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, prosperity, and mutual respect.”
Wise words indeed for a better world.
If you are considering moving to Canada, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way – from your first enquiry to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you.