Are America and Canada Allies? We Explain

The United States of America has several allies, including Germany and South Korea. However, you may wonder whether the US is allied with one of its closest neighbors, Canada.

America and Canada are close allies. Despite past skirmishes and disagreements, they’ve been allies for more than a century. Moreover, these countries will likely remain allies for the foreseeable future due to their shared borders and similar government styles.

This guide will examine the political relationship between the US and Canada to understand when these countries became allies, why they remain allies, and what the future might hold for this relationship.

America’s Allies Include Canada

The United States of America and Canada are allies. These countries also share several allies, including:

  • Israel
  • Australia
  • New Zealand 
  • France

Many of these relationships developed after the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949. However, the US and Canada weren’t always friendly to one another. These nations experienced several disagreements and disputes during their formative years.

Have the United States and Canada Always Been Allies?

The US and Canada have never warred with one another, but they haven’t always been close allies. Disagreements concerning independence marred the colonial period (1607 to 1776). These nations also butted heads after the US Civil War and the Alaska Purchase.

After the Civil War, Confederate soldiers fled to Canada, leading some Americans to believe that Canada purposefully harbored US war criminals. This resentment flared-up again in the wake of the Vietnam War, as Canada permitted many US citizens attempting to dodge the draft to immigrate there.

Land was another common point of disagreement between Canada and the US.

For example, when the US purchased Alaska from Russia, Canada began to dispute the new state’s borders. The dispute ended when the US was officially awarded Alaska, but many Canadian politicians were displeased.

Consequently, Canada refused to participate in free trade with the US. They didn’t reverse this position until 1988.

When Did America and Canada Become Allies?

It’s challenging to determine a precise year that the US and Canada became allies. These nations have had close interactions since Canada gained its independence in 1867.

America and Canada became formal allies after WWII when the US and Canada signed the North Atlantic Treaty. However, the relationship between these countries strengthened significantly during the Cold War, which may have also contributed to their current allegiance.

Why Are America and Canada Allies?

The reasons why America and Canada have remained allies for so many years include shared borders, similar government styles, a shared history and peoples, and trading partnerships.

The best way to understand these incentives is to analyze each one. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the reasons why the United States and Canada remain close allies.

Shared Borders

According to the US Department of State, the US-Canadian border is the longest international border. This border is over 5,500 miles (8,851 km) long and features more than 100 entry ports.

Establishing and maintaining a close allyship is an intelligent political move for both countries. If the US and Canada ever declare war against one another, each nation’s militaries would need to patrol and maintain several thousands of miles of borders, a feat that’s logistically challenging and economically draining.

Similar Government Styles

The US and Canada are both democratic countries that allow citizens to vote for political leaders. Additionally, both countries participate in and encourage capitalist economic policies. These similarities make it easier for Canada and the US to find agreeable compromises and work together.

Shared History and Populations

Another reason for the allyship between the US and Canada is a shared history and population. Both countries gained political independence from the British Empire, fought in several united battles against common enemies, and became popular destinations for European immigrants.

Many people in the US have Canadian relatives, and vice versa. Additionally, the US is home to several famous Canadian celebrities, including Keanu Reeves, Justin Bieber, and Ryan Gosling.

These social ties help keep the allyship between these countries strong.

Trading Partnerships and Economic Incentives

Trade is another significant reason why the US and Canada remain close allies.

More than $1 billion (about €800 million) worth of goods travel across the US-Canada border every day. If these countries weren’t allies, trade policies would likely restrict the ability to transport and trade goods and resources. As a consequence, both countries’ economies would suffer.

The North Atlantic Treaty and United Nations

The US and Canada are both members of NATO and the United Nations. These international organizations are designed to maintain peace and solve disputes among member nations.

Consequently, the allyship between Canada and America is partially maintained via the efforts and expectations of global organizations. Still, these nations occasionally face challenges to their ally status.

Will the US and Canada Always Be Allies?

The US and Canada will likely always be allies, but unforeseen circumstances and factors may negatively impact their current relationship. But the incentives to remain allies may ensure that these nations remain on friendly terms for the foreseeable future.

However, several issues currently challenge the relationship between the US and Canada. Two of the most notable of these include:

  • Environmental concerns
  • Trade disputes

Let’s examine these concerns in greater detail to discover how they threaten a continued friendship between Canada and the United States.

Environmental Concerns

Canadians and Americans have differing views on environmental issues, including climate change. As a result, Canadian ecological policies tend to be stricter and more progressive than those in the US. This difference occasionally causes social and political tension.

Trade Disputes

Because the US and Canada rely on international trade relations, trade disputes are the most significant threats to continued allyships. Unfortunately, trade disputes are somewhat common.

For example, the US and Canada recently quarreled over the exportation of Canadian dairy products. While Mexico supported the US’ stance, the disagreement may increase economic tensions between the two neighboring countries.

Final Thoughts

Throughout the 1700s and 1800s, the United States and Canada experienced disagreements concerning land allotment, soldier harbourage, and trade tariffs.

However, in the modern era, the allyship between these countries is exceptionally strong.

That said, these countries’ policies are very different. Consistent efforts are necessary to maintain the allyship between the US and Canada. Fortunately, the political leaders of both nations seem determined to ensure that Canada and the US remain allies for the foreseeable future.


Global Affairs Explained

Global Affairs Explained is an ongoing project aiming to provide concise guides to world events. Focusing on international relations, history, and geo-politics, Global Affairs Explained uses original research and data to answer questions often not covered by traditional media.

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