During the 2016 presidential election campaign in the United States, Canada was number one on the global distribution list of the number of eligible American voters living outside the United States. The 660,935 Americans of voting age living in Canada was more than double that of the next country, the United Kingdom. American immigration to Canada is far from a recent phenomenon however. In fact, the phenomenon of Americans moving to Canada is as old as the US itself.
American immigration to Canada dates back as far as the Revolutionary War, when approximately 100,000 Americans fled north. The majority of this total were colonists loyal to the crown, and their arrival north of the border led to massive changes to the social, cultural and political landscape of Canada for generations to follow.
Similar to the colonists who left the newly formed United States in the 18th century, thousands of black Americans departed the USA for Canada during the 19th century in order to avoid the horrors of slavery and racial oppression during the War of 1812 and the subsequent Civil War. Unfortunately, although many found freedom in Canada, significant numbers of black Americans still encountered economic prejudice and social discrimination after arriving in Canada.
The 20th century also saw thousands of Americans move to Canada to avoid conscription to the U.S. army during the Vietnam War. According to Statistics Canada, in the nine-year period from 1966 to 1975, almost 240,000 Americans moved to Canada — almost doubling the figure from the previous decade. American immigration to Canada reached its zenith in 1974, when 27,932 Americans crossed the northern border to settle in Canada. Thankfully, the recent wave of Americans immigration to Canada has generally taken place under slightly less trying circumstances than in previous generations.
However, despite the increase in the number of people moving from the USA to Canada recently, the fact is that these figures are not what they were during previous migration waves. Issues such as the ongoing uncertainty regarding NAFTA, the relative weakness of the Canadian dollar versus its US counterpart, and that old chestnut — the weather — have deterred some Americans from moving to Canada.
That being said, the recent spike in interest indicates that political and social events in the United States can lead to an increase in the number of Americans thinking of moving to Canada from the US. When you factor in the positive political and social light by which Canada is viewed — including expanding job opportunities in many cities, a more tolerant outlook on marijuana and LGBT rights, and cheaper university tuition fees — it is easy to see why so many US citizens continue to move to Canada centuries after the first Americans did so. And this proves that the history of Canada is very much intertwined with the United States through centuries of immigration.