Canada and the British World: Culture, Migration, and Identity


358 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-1305-9
DDC 971.05





Edited by Phillip Buckner and R. Douglas Francis
Reviewed by John D. Blackwell

John D. Blackwell is director of the Research Grants Office at St.
Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, and the author of Canadian
Studies: A Guide to the Sources (http://www.


Although Canada in the early 21st century is a model of multiculturalism
(with its inevitably expanding number of solitudes), it is impossible to
deny the indelible impact of Britain on our national psyche and

Canada and the British World, edited by Phillip Buckner (professor
emeritus, University of New Brunswick, and senior research fellow,
Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London) and R. Douglas Francis
(professor, University of Calgary), offers a rich and diverse collection
of essays originally presented at the British World Conference (Calgary,

In the introduction, Buckner and Francis touch deftly on the complex
themes and evolution of Canada’s relationship with Britain—the two
World Wars, the quiet revolutions in French and English Canada during
the 1960s (which included the emergence of Canadian Studies),
non-British immigration, Americanization, and the renewed interest
during the 1990s in Canada’s place in the history of the British
Empire. They observe that “Canada drew upon all parts of the British
Isles for its immigrations, its institutions, its laws, and culture. And
Canadians frequently rejected aspects of the law or culture of the
mother country that they felt were incapable of being transplanted in a
new environment or that they felt were undesirable to transplant.
Canadians wished to be ‘British’ but on their own terms and in their
own way.”

The book’s 19 essays provide a wide sampling of this immense field,
including Scottish identity, law, women travellers, indigenous
missionaries, the Boy Scout movement, colonization propaganda, the
Rhodes Scholarship, labour politics, broadcasting, and the Mounties. Of
course, no one volume can begin to capture all of the subtle nuances of
this complex relationship, where mythology and reality are often tangled
together. Nevertheless, these selected essays on Canada and the British
World make a substantial contribution in the recent effort “to
re-examine a complex phenomenon and to understand how it shaped the
world in which Canadians lived and to some extent still live.” This
anthology will, one hopes, encourage more work in this massive field,
where large, fertile areas have yet to be tilled.


“Canada and the British World: Culture, Migration, and Identity,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,