To what extent did Canada become more Independent in the 1920’s?



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To what extent did Canada become more Independent in the 1920’s? (you may include events from 1931 also)

Canada’s sense of national identity of World War I transformed into a growing need for independence in the 1920’s. However, as Canada grew further apart from Britain, it found a new big brother in the United States. Although Canada became much more politically independent in the 1920’s, socially and economically it made strong ties with, and began to depend upon, the U.S. Canada therefore only became moderately independent in the 1920’s.

Politically, Canada developed quite independently. Prime Minister Mackenzie Kind certainly encouraged this on many occasions, the first of which, the Chanak Affair of 1922, being the first ever refusal to go to support Britain in war (in this case, invading Turkey). King went on to sign the Halibut Treaty, Canada’s first international treaty without Britain’s involvement. Not only did Canada’s involvement in international affairs increase, but they also gained more independence in internal politics, such as the King-Bing crisis, when P.M. King challenged the rights of the Governor General to oppose him. Most importantly, Canada participated in the Imperial Conference of 1926, which resulted in the Balfour Report, and then the Statute of Westminster, that changed the British Empire into the British Commonwealth and gave Canada equal status to Britain. Finally Canada had the right to make it’s own laws and govern itself, although the constitution remained in Britain for several decades, as did the judicial court of appeal.

Culturally, Canada certainly developed its own identity in the 1920’s, particularly in the arts. These focused on bold depictions of the Canadian landscape by The Group of Seven, and also in literature and poetry. Canada got its own magazines (Maclean’s, for one), and even CBC, a public broadcasting service to speared Canadian content. Despite all this, advances in technology like motion pictures, the radio, and the automobile, increased the cultural overlap between Canada and the United States. Because trends could move so quickly and widely, Canada and America shared fashion (like Flappers), music, films, clubs, and even sports. Although Canada certainly retained its own identity, and culture, such as that of the French Canadians, its popular culture was virtually the same as that of the U.S. Canada simply couldn’t complete, so it became, in some facts, Americanized.



The economy is the perfect example of how ties with the U.S. developed and a dependence formed. U.S. investments in Canada surpassed Britain’s in the 1920’s, and their involvement in Canada’s economy only increased. Brand plants popped up around the country – businesses and companies owned by the U.S. but positioned in Canada to evade tariffs. This provided jobs to Canadians, and sales of natural resources, for sure, but the end profit would still go to America, so they were the ones who truly benefited. The United States soon overtook Canada’s auto industry, and well as oil, machinery, etc. The economic dependence flat built up through the 1920’s would become abundantly clear when the U.S. Stock Market crashed in 1929, pulling the Canadian economy down with it into the Great Depression.

In the 1920’s, it could be said that Canada extricated itself out of Britain’s grasp just to bound into America’s embrace. Although Canada gained much political independence form Britain, through the 1920’s Canada became very closely tied to the United States in terms of popular culture and economy, something which is evident still. Canada therefore became fair-to-moderately independent in the 1920’s. Perhaps in terms of modern technological advancement, Canada is no more economically or culturally independent today, but that is the topic of another essay.


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