Scholarship on Canadian Identity

I Am Canadian:National Identity in Beer Commercials
Robert M. Macgregor

This text takes a look at the 'I Am Canadian' beer commercials popularized by Molson. This commercial sparked intense patriotism in many of the Canadians that watched it. "The copy and visual elements of the advertisement addressed some of the commonly held stereotypes that others perhaps hold of Canadians" (pg 3). As Robert Macgregor points out that one of the main reasons that this ad was so inspiring was because of the many stereotypical Canadian images portrayed in it. As well, the rising speech given in it struck the hearts of many of us. However, if one were to look closely at this speech, it quickly becomes clear the inherent flaws it contains. Part of the script focuses on why were are NOT American, rather then why we are Canadian. "I have a prime minister, not a president.I speak English and French, NOT American" (pg 2). This in itself is entirely unneeded as Canadians get compared to Americans quite often enough as it is. It seems to be a running theme that one of the characteristics of being Canadian is not being American, which does the image of Canada no justice. Nonetheless, as Macgregor points out, the ad accomplished its goal, which was to inspire Canadian patriotism and sell a lot of beer!


Macgregor, Robert M. "I Am Canadian: National Identity in Beer Commercials." Journal of Popular Culture 37.2 (2003): 276-286. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Web. 11 Apr. 2010.

Canadian Identity in Popular Media
In I am Canadian: Identity, Territory and the Canadian National Landscape, Erin Manning explores popular depictions of Canadian national identity.  According to Manning, the Molson Canadian beer advertisements – specifically the “I am Canadian” commercial – perpetuate a nationalistic identity based on a “familiar matrix of inclusion and exclusion” (4) that exploits the Canadian-American relationship.  In Canada, Manning says, “skewering our Southern neighbours has become a national pastime” (6).  This, Manning argues, is a “voicing of a nationalist sentiment that has been reiterated throughout Canadian history” (7) that maintains the myth that Canadian identity blends seamlessly with Canadian geography (10).  Manning suggests that this link between identity and landscape was forged by the Group of Seven and their landscape-laden artwork.  
Lawren Harris: Maligne Lake, Jasper Park, 1924.
Oil on canvas. 122.8 x 152.8 cm. Collection of the National Gallery of Canada.
Manning acknowledges that the “joining of territory and identity” (18) has, historically, contributed to Canada’s idea of nationhood.  Furthermore, she suggests, “the landscape highlights not only the spiritual one-ness of nature and self, but also the covenant of the mythical unity of a people who are created by the landscape they inherit” (23).  This romantic notion is quite attractive, so it is not surprising that many Canadians claim that there is an important link between geography and Canadian identity.  According to Manning, “we must remain attentive to the fact that the quest for national identity through the image of the landscape recalls the modern desire for authenticity… [and] the representation of the landscape of the motherland [is] a nostalgic longing for a lost, presumably less alienated culture” (24).  Certainly, Canada is an immigrant nation, first with French and British colonists, and more recently with Asian, Middle-Eastern, and European immigrants.  Therefore, one can easily imagine that the Canadian culture is one of alienation, both from the “motherland” and from other Canadian.  Perhaps this is why there is no definitive “Canadian identity” – despite the best efforts of Molson beer advertisements.  Indeed, Molson continues to propagate this sort of “nationalistic rhetoric” (49) in its most recent commercial, claiming, “it’s this land that shapes us.”  So while Manning states that modern artists like Jin-me Yoon are deterritorializing Canadian art, it is clear that nationalism and geography still play a large role in the popular perception of Canadian national identity.
Manning, Erin.  “I am Canadian: Identity, Territory and the Canadian National Landscape.”  Theory and Event 4.4 (2000).  Project Muse Premium.  Simon Fraser U Lib.  12 April 2010.

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