Yankee Go Home?: Canadians and Anti-Americanism


317 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-00-255301-5
DDC 327.71073




Reviewed by D.M.L. Farr

D.M.L. Farr is professor emeritus of history at Carleton University in
Ottawa and the editor of Life and Letters of Sir Wilfrid Laurier.


This study of the anti-Americanism that runs through Canadian history
might have been titled “The Rise and Fall of Anti-Americanism,” for
its author believes that the “Yankee Go Home” attitude, once so
potent it could bring down a national government, is now only a shadow
of its former self. The Canada–U.S. Free Trade Agreement of 1987
symbolizes the eclipse of anti-Americanism. By 1992, with the
finalization of NAFTA, “anti-Americanism had been marginalized,
by-passed, and overtaken by events.” According to the author,
anti-Americanism will never rise again, which is no bad thing, he says,
since it has always been an inadequate basis on which to build a sense
of Canadian nationhood.

Yankee Go Home? is filled with the sharp insights and tart observations
that readers have come to expect from seasoned historian J.L.
Granatstein. The Loyalists wanted the best of both worlds. They
emphasized their loyalty to the mighty British Empire but at the same
time insisted they were North Americans, ready to take advantage of the
opportunities that the new continent afforded. John Diefenbaker
expressed a brand of Canadian nationalism “which equalled a large dose
of under-stated anti-Americanism.” Robin Matthews, who attacked the
“Americanization” of Canadian universities, eventually won his case,
one of the few success stories of anti-American nationalism in Canada in
the 20th century. It was the turnaround of business that killed
anti-Americanism in Canada. In 1911, business interests opposed
Laurier’s reciprocity with the United States; by 1987, they were
backing Mulroney’s trade agreement emphatically.

Granatstein has ranged widely through Canadian history to put a diverse
group of actors under the microscope. There is Mackenzie King confiding
to his diary that Canada under his leadership would prefer to travel
“the American road”; James Endicott, the mouthpiece for a virulently
anti-American Communist front; Walter Gordon, the patrician businessman
disturbed by the flow of investment from the United States; Donald
Creighton, who believed that Canada had taken the wrong fork in the road
under King; Margaret Atwood, Farley Mowat, and Greg Curnoe, the literary
and artistic apostles of anti-Americanism. The author’s comments on
these and others are always provocative and set in context.

Granatstein has read everything that is relevant to this subject,
including new sources in United States government files and in
collections of private papers from both sides of the border. His
well-documented book, which is illustrated with political cartoons from
the periods it treats, ends with the suggestion that if Canada ever
becomes part of the United States, it will be because Canadians will it.


Granatstein, J.L., “Yankee Go Home?: Canadians and Anti-Americanism,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/4239.