Star-Spangled Canadians: Canadians Living the American Dream


391 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-00-255767-3
DDC 971




Reviewed by John D. Blackwell

John D. Blackwell is Academic Funding & Research Officer at St. Francis
Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and the co-author of
Canadian Studies: A Guide to the Sources (which can be found at


Jeffrey Simpson, one of Canada’s leading journalists, has deep roots
on both sides of the 49th parallel. His Star-Spangled Canadians astutely
surveys the experiences of 250 Canadians currently pursuing the American
Dream; however, he disregards Canadians who have returned from the
United States and the Snowbirds who annually migrate south.

Some 660,000 expatriate Canadians now live in the United States;
approximately 120,000 Canadians reside there illegally. In this
anecdotal but highly revealing study, Simpson examines Canadians’
often irresistible attraction to the American Dream. He begins with a
survey of Canadian migration to the United States during the past two
centuries, and then explores the differences between the two countries.
He describes English-speaking Canadians as “the classic hidden
immigrants” in America. For French Canadians, relocating to America
exacts a greater cost: the loss of language and cultural traditions.
Simpson devotes most of his book to exploring key themes in contemporary
Canadian migration to the United States. His material is largely
anecdotal, but he also includes statistical data to bolster his
arguments. His discussion of Canadians’ experience with race and crime
in America is often surprising.

Free trade has expedited the southward flow of well-educated Canadians
to the private and academic sectors, thereby diminishing capacity for
growth and success at home. The “brain drain” has also been
especially significant in the health-care sector. Simpson provides a
detailed comparison of the Canadian and American health systems. In his
sections on business, entertainment, and journalism, the author quotes
many celebrated “Star-Spangled Canadians.” Peter Jennings, for
instance, laments that “today, it seems there is far less reluctance
in Canada to be like Americans.” One of the book’s most engaging
chapters deals with expatriate Canadians in New York City, the
quintessential American melting pot.

Although a staunch Canadian, Simpson appreciates the strengths and
weaknesses of both countries. His conclusion is surprisingly optimistic.
“Canadians … can build a more prosperous, economically dynamic
country—that will incidentally produce fewer Star-Spangled
Canadians—if they shuck off their moral superiority about the United
States, the outgrowth of a sense of needless inferiority, and enter the
modern, global world equipped to compete, innovate, create, and
succeed.” One cannot help noting the irony that this book was printed
and bound in the USA.


Simpson, Jeffrey., “Star-Spangled Canadians: Canadians Living the American Dream,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 13, 2024,