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United Kingdom and Irish Culture

Who they are

  • The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK, or Britain) is a sovereign state located off the north-western coast of continental Europe.
  • The United Kingdom is a unitary state governed under a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary system, with its seat of government in the capital city of London. It is a country in its own right and consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
  • The UK is twice the size of New York State.
  • Canada shares equally the same sovereign with fifteen other monarchies in the fifty-four-member Commonwealth of Nations, a grouping known informally as the Commonwealth realms.  The reigning monarch resides predominantly in the oldest and most populous realm, the United Kingdom, and viceroys act as the sovereign’s representatives in Canada.
  • In addition to the terms “English Canadian” and “Canadian”, the terms “Anglophone Canadian” and “Anglo-Canadian” are also used.

Language:  English

  • English is the first language or “mother tongue”, in Canada. English as a mother tongue in Sault Ste Marie is 84% and 90% are fluent in the language.
  • English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in England and is now the most widely used language in the world. New York Times. May 14, 2007.
  • English is an official language in Fifty- four countries.
  • English is one of the official languages of the United Nations, European Union and the International Olympic Committee.
  • Most of Canada’s modern regions are of British descent. According to the 2006 census, 67% of Canadians speak English at home as their first language.
  • Canadian English  is the variety of English spoken in Canada. English is the first language, or “mother tongue”, of approximately 24 million Canadians (77%), and more than 28 million (86%) are fluent in the language.
  • English Canadian spelling continues to favour most spellings of British English, including ‘centre’, ‘theatre’, ‘colour’ and ‘labour’, although usage is not universal. Other spellings, such as ‘gaol’ and ‘programme’, have disappeared entirely or are in retreat. The principal differences between British and Canadian spelling are twofold: ‘-ise’ and ‘-yse’ words (‘organise/organize’ and ‘analyse’ in Britain, ‘organize’ and ‘analyze/analyse‘ in Canada), and ‘-e’ words (‘annexe’ and ‘grille’ in Britain, ‘annex’ and ‘grill’ in Canada, but ‘axe’ in both, ‘ax’ in the USA). But ‘-ize’ is becoming increasingly common in Britain, bringing British spelling closer to the Canadian standard.

Canadian English Expressions:

  • Double-double: a cup of coffee with two creams and two sugars, most commonly associated with the Tim Hortons chain of coffee shops.
  • Mickey: a 375 mL (12.7 US fl oz; 13.2 imp fl oz) bottle of hard liquor (informally called a pint in the Maritimes and the US).
  • Poutine: a snack of french fries topped with cheese curds and hot gravy.
  • “Eh?” Don’t you think? Conversational device that allows an unconfrontational canadian to turn a statement into a poll of opinion.
  • The word bum can refer either to the buttocks (as in Britain), or, derogatorily, to a homeless person (as in the U.S.). However, the “buttocks” sense does not have the indecent character it retains in British and Australian use.


  • According to Statistics Canada (2006) the United Kingdom and Irish ethnic origin population in Sault Ste. Marie is 12,510  people (16%).
  • Many of the English people, at least until 1867, came in official capacities as public servants and soldiers who, on release from service, remained in the country.  The majority  were English or Anglo-Irish.
  • There were at least 3 other great waves of English immigration. After Confederation, children from private homes, industrial schools and poor-law schools were given free passage to Canada, where they became wards of various societies.
  • Between 1867 and the 1920s thousands of British children, the majority of them English, were settled across Canada , It is known as a British child emigration movement with particular reference to the “home children”who were sent to Canada. Majority of them victims of east-end London’s chronic poverty, who were begging in the streets and sleeping in the gutters.
  • In 1991, 8.6 million people, or one in three Canadians, described themselves to census enumerators as wholly (4 million) or partially (4.6 million) of English ethnicity.
  • The most “English” province in 1991 was Newfoundland, where 82 percent of the population claimed to be either wholly or partially of English ancestry. In Ontario, just less than 40 percent of the population was of English origin.
  • Upper Canada was a primary destination for English, Scottish and Scots-Irish settlers to Canada in the nineteenth century, and was on the front lines in the War of 1812 between the British Empire and the United States.

Religion, Values and Traditions

  • Historically, Christianity “has been the most influential and important religion in Britain”, and it remains the declared faith of the majority of the British people.
  • English settlement brought Anglicans and Protestants to Upper Canada, now Ontario.
  • Anglicanism travelled abroad with British colonial expansion. In 1578, near present-day Iqaluit, NU, a chaplain celebrated the Eucharist as a member of Martin Frobisher’s Arctic expedition. This was the first Anglican Eucharist in what is now Canada.
  • Anglican Diocese of Algoma’s See city is Sault Ste. Marie, and its Anglican population of 18,000 on the parish rolls is served by 50 parishes. The Right Reverend Dr. Stephen Andrews is the Bishop of Algoma.
  • There were among the United Empire Loyalists a number of Roman Catholics; but the overwhelming majority of them were Protestants  Some were Anglicans , some were Presbyterians , some were Lutherans.
  • The Church of England, which has its origins in King Henry VIII’s break with the Roman Catholic Church, initially enjoyed substantial privileges from government in both the Maritimes and Upper Canada.
  • On July 22nd, 1879, the first Anglican Church in Sault Ste Marie was build -St. Luke’s Cathedral 160 Brock Street.
    160 Brock Street.

Holidays and Celebrations

  • Scottish Country Dance – In Sault Ste. Marie- Every Wednesday at Ben R. McMullin Elementary School.
  • St. Patrick’s Day (Irish) a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on March 17. It commemorates Saint Patrick.
  • Saint David’s Day (Welsh) is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on the 1st of March each year.
  • Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) – Day before Lent (40 days before Easter). – March/April
  • St. George’s Day (England’s National Day) – April 23
  • Remembrance DayNovember 11
  • St. Andrew’s Day ( Scotland’s National Day) – November 30
  • Boxing Day December 26
  • Halloween Day Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1st.
  • Canada proclaimed 2010 the “Year of the British Home Child”

How did they contribute to life in Sault Ste. Marie

  • Great Britain and Ireland has had a remarkably important role in shaping today’s world. We also owe to Britain the agricultural and industrial revolutions, and a big part in the development of mercantilism, free trade, capitalism, economic liberalism.
  • British and Irish inventions alone include the steam engine, the gas turbine, the railway, the gas stove/cooker, the car, negative & colour photography, radio waves, the jet engine, Trans-Atlantic calls, a cure for Leprosy, the modern tractor, the submarine, the tank, apparatus for whiskey distilling and arguably, video games to name just a few.
  • The first waves of English immigration contributed greatly to the farming population in the rural areas and to the skilled artisan population in the towns, but after WWII many English immigrants were professionals, technicians or individuals concerned in various ways with the arts.
  • English immigrants have made important contributions to many Canadian institutions, including Institutions such as the Red Cross, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Guides, the National Film Board, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the Canada Council, the National Ballet and the Stratford Festival.
  • Sport, to some extent, follows a very British pattern: rugby and cricket have always been popular, and football (soccer in North America) is gaining ground.
  • The Irish Canadian Anthony A. “Tony” Martin is the founder the Sault Ste. Marie Soup Kitchen on 1983.

Notable Canadians of United Kingdom/ Ireland Descent

  • Dr. Michael Henry West – British Canadian Internal medicine Doctor.
  • Anthony A. “Tony” Martin Irish – Canadian politician.
  • Donald Jackson– British Canadian professor at Algoma University, founder of The Shingwauk Project. The Shingwauk Project began in 1979 and started as a cross-cultural research and educational development project.
  • Carla Collins born April 30, 1965 in Sault Ste. Marie, she is a Canadian comedian, actress, television host and writer. A stand-up, she has been hailed by the press as “Canada’s Tina Fey” and the “Queen of Comedy”.

Video/interviews  gallery  click here Video 1 , Video 2

UK Flag
Flag of England
Wales Flag
Northern Ireland Flag
Scotland flag
Tony Martin
Don Jackson
Carla Collins