So, Trump Won: What Happens if a Bunch of Americans Actually Move to Canada?

Donald Trump
John Raedle/Staff/Getty Images News

Americans! What are we going to do with these people? They spend all their time wringing their hands about how many dark-skinned people they're willing to let into their country, but the minute the going gets tough, they all want to hop the 49th parallel like Canada's some rustic liberal getaway. Not so fast, wannabe ex-pats -- the British didn't burn the White House in 1814 just so you can use us to escape your problems whenever you feel like it.

Not that you can really blame the impulse, though. If I was faced with the fact that Donald Drumpf is taking over my country, I'd probably want to bail, too. But how would that actually work? What would happen if there was a sudden influx of bleeding-heart American refugees beating down our (politely unlocked) doors?

Here, in no particular order, is a consideration of how much an American exodus would actually impact Canadian life.


If you thought the housing markets in Vancouver and Toronto were already stupid as hell, oh buddy, just wait until a flood of wealthy American expats decide they want to relocate to the only two Canadian cities anyone can name. No one will move to Montreal, because French is the Devil's language. Vancouver is basically Seattle with better weed, and Toronto is just New York if it never moved out of its mother's basement, so the culture shock would be minimal (aside from the upsetting fact that we take Drake really seriously for some reason).

Considering that this would be a group of people with enough money to pack up and move to a different country on a whim -- and that Canadian currency is basically Monopoly money right now -- it would really only take one or two bidding wars between Hollywood exiles over a 20sqft dumpster in West Van (market price: $1,287,395.27) to finally burst this country's real estate bubble.

Alternatively, for those who prefer adventurous living and soul-killing desolation, there's always scenic Newfoundland.


Unlike the freedom-loving people to the south, it is generally frowned upon in Canada to carry assault rifles around at, say, Toys “R” Us. We can only hope that the influx of new arrivals would be able to quickly master the preferred Canadian methods of defending one’s honour: devastating passive-aggressive barbs masked as politeness, and/or trash-talking one another during an inebriated bonspiel.


The most obvious perk of surrendering American citizenship to the Mounties at the border crossing is publicly funded healthcare. Admittedly, seeing a doctor, or getting surgery or radiation therapy, without having to worry about going bankrupt is pretty damn great -- although God help you if you need to buy medication or go to the dentist.

Actually, given how much the quality of care outside the hospital is determined by the size of your wallet (or your employer's insurance program), most Americans would probably feel pretty comfortable up here.


Nothing will ever change the intense and totally arbitrary emotional attachments Canadians feel towards their national sports, so the only thing US emigrants can do is adapt. The most important thing for Americans to realize is that in Canada, hockey is deadly serious business. It's also conspicuously plebian... unlike in the US, where being into hockey is some elitist hipster garbage on par with being in the Skull & Bones or a 33rd Degree Freemason.

In the unfortunate event that anyone winds up on the Prairies, the bizarro world of Canadian football will give them the culture shock of a lifetime. The field is smaller, there is something called a rouge, and the league actually gives a shit about addressing domestic violence... so it's staggeringly different from the NFL.

And unless you're in Toronto, a huge math nerd, or the Jays make another pennant run (lol), you can probably just check your baseball knowledge at the door. But hey! At least the Raptors are still in the playoffs!


What I'm about to say is blasphemy, but: a massive influx of Americans would actually be really good for Canadian culture.

Sure, Americans are world-famous philistines. And the Donald Trump presidency they'd be fleeing is really just the culmination of 20 years of the reality television-industrial complex warping everyone's brains. But hear me out: they're also used to really good television, which (outside of flashes of brilliance from Atlantic Canada) is very obviously not our country's strong suit. They wouldn't stand for the entertainment wasteland we call Canadian Netflix, and they definitely wouldn't stand for the publicly funded CBC to funnel their tax dollars into yet another season of Heartland. Even if Trump loses the election, I would still encourage the American cultural set to move here en masse and save our broadcasting from ourselves.

Of course, the downside to all this is that we don't get any choice in which celebrities decide to jump ship. We get Whoopi Goldberg, but we also get Lena Dunham. Maybe we strike a deal to extradite some of these people in exchange for, I don't know, Martin Short.

National unity

Of course, the real elephant in the room here is what a stampede of American nationals would do to Canadian national identity, which is the only political issue anyone in this country cares about for longer than two minutes at a time. All the barely closeted racism you saw from your high school exes on Facebook when the Syrian refugees arrived will have nothing on the Yanks showing up.

America is our foil. Canadians need these people to be as awful as possible so that we can feel good about ourselves. They are everything we aren't: they're barbarians who love war, deregulated capitalism, SUVs, and all-day McDonald's breakfast.

The only constant to the last 150 years of Canadian life has been how not-American we are. They are treasonous colonials who hate the British crown, while we dedicate 24-hour news coverage to Prince George learning to use a toilet. They waged brutal, genocidal war on their native inhabitants, while we were civilized, and made ours sign treaties before starving them onto reserves. They're still working out how not to have police murder black people in the streets for no reason, while we have a gender-equal cabinet and more Sikhs in government than the Republic of India. Like Batman and the Joker, we genuinely need each other in some strange, tragic way. An American diaspora on the Canadian shield would really mess with our sense of self.

But then again, this would also be the most liberal set of Americans -- those who are most aspirationally Canadian, the ones already convinced that public healthcare, firearm restrictions, and early morning Caesars are the way, the truth, and the life (respectively). All things considered, we could probably deal.

Of course, this is all just a reverie. Once Trump actually takes office in January, he'll probably just build a wall to keep them all inside.

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Drew Brown is a writer from Newfoundland and a PhD candidate in political science who never really "got" Canadian football. He is looking forward to someday disowning Martin Short as a Canadian. Follow him @drewfoundland.

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