Ethnicity in the Mainstream: Three Studies of English-Canadian Culture in Ontario


193 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-1173-3
DDC 305.811'20713




Reviewed by W.J.C. Cherwinski

W.J.C. Cherwinski is a history professor at the Memorial University of
Newfoundland and the co-author of Lectures in Canadian Labour and
Working-Class History.


The generally held perception is that English culture is the dominant
one to which other

groups in Canada have had to adapt. The author argues, however, that the
English in Canada are also an ethnic group who have to adapt their
culture to a Canadian mainstream. To support her argument, the author
examines three different aspects of what she considers culture as
experienced and expressed by those of English descent in Ontario.

In interviewing members of organizations promoting English/British
origins, the author discovered that, despite a shared heritage and
institutions, most were not prepared for the adaptations they had to
make when they arrived in Canada. They were set apart by their accent,
their use of words, and their differing views on familiarity and what
was considered polite.

In studying morris dancing, she determined that even here considerable
change was evident in the way this group performed what was originally
“an English male dance tradition” in an effort to revive it in
Canada. This conforms to the experience of other ethnic groups in their
efforts to perpetuate aspects of a cultural heritage in new

Finally, Greenhill examines Stratford’s Shakespearean Festival and
the tensions that exist between the indigenous Canadian “Stratford
culture” and the English “Festival view.”

This work is seminal and will spawn further study of the English
contribution to ethnicity in Canada.


Greenhill, Pauline., “Ethnicity in the Mainstream: Three Studies of English-Canadian Culture in Ontario,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 28, 2024,