Class in Canada

August 14, 2011

I know far too little about Canada – not much more than the information in the Histeria! version of the national anthem, which begins
O Canada
You’re really good at hockey. . .
(Full lyric here. Histeria left out the part about universal affordable health care.)

Here’s another possible difference with the US. It’s from a Paris Review blog post by Misha Glouberman (here).
If you go to Harvard and then you live in New York, no matter what you do, the fact remains that you will have old college friends who are in the top positions in whatever field of endeavor you’re concerned with. If you’re twenty-five, you’ll know people who are getting their first pieces published in The New Yorker. If you’re forty, you’ll know people who are editors of The New Yorker. You will know people who are affiliated with every level of government. And across the board, just everywhere, you will know some people at the top of everything.

But in Canada, if you went to Harvard, it’s just a weird novelty, a strange fact about you, like that you’re a member of Mensa or you have an extra thumb. There’s no Harvard community here. There are equivalent upper-class communities to some degree, like maybe people who went to Upper Canada College prep school, but it’s not even remotely the same thing. I mean, partly there just aren’t the same heights to aspire to. There’s no equivalent to being the editor of The New Yorker in Canada, or being an American movie producer or anything like that. Partly, the advantages of class aren’t as unevenly distributed in general.
I wonder if Glouberman’s perceptions are congruent with more systematic accounts of class in Canada.

(My earlier post on the Harvard brand is here.)


PCM said...

I went to Harvard and live in New York. I don't know a single editor at the New Yorker. But I do know a few people who have recently had articles in the New Yorker. But our friendships have nothing to do with me being at Harvard. I am also about to turn 40. So maybe I'm just living the life of a 25-year-old.

Josh Mc. said...

Isn't this a little bit like asking why there's no McGill alumni community in the United States?