A Border Within: National Identity, Cultural Plurality, and Wilderness


268 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-1652-2
DDC 971.064'8





Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a professor of history at Laurentian University, the
author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable Kingdom,
and the co-author of The Border at Sault Ste. Marie.


Ian Angus values what English Canada used to be and regrets its apparent
demise in the face of globalization. The Canada-U.S. Free Trade
Agreement (which took effect in 1989) and NAFTA are symptoms of that
globalization. Quite reasonably, Angus excludes Quebec and the First
Nations from his definition of “English Canada.”

After a profound discussion as to what constitutes national identity in
the abstract, Angus focuses on that of English Canada. Harold Innis and
George Grant, in his opinion, were the best exponents of its values. The
Massey Commission of the 1950s proved vital to English Canada’s
cultural development, as did Robin Matthews and James Steele (who wrote
The Struggle for Canadian Universities, 1969) and Ian Lumsden (who wrote
Close the 49th Parallel, 1970).

What should be done now? Angus notes the importance of federal
governments before 1989 in promoting English Canada’s identity. Ottawa
served to unify Canada, to link Canadians to one another. A
laissez-faire government that promotes worship of the marketplace, he
justifiably fears, weakens that identity and promotes Americanization if
not globalization.

Angus’s book serves as a warning. Unfortunately, it is heavy reading,
and only the most dedicated may be alerted to its message.


Angus, Ian., “A Border Within: National Identity, Cultural Plurality, and Wilderness,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/4320.