Spanish presence on the
land we now call Canada dates back several centuries to the voyages of
Basque fishermen to the Atlantic coast, and to Spanish exploration of
the Pacific coast (see also Spanish Exploration). Archaeologists have
uncovered traces of a 16th century Basque whaling station at Red Bay,
Labrador. However, significant Spanish settlement did not occur in
Canada until the 20th century. The 2016 census reported 396, 460 people
of Spanish origin in Canada (70,325 single and 326,130 multiple
Basque expeditions are recalled in names such as Channel-Port aux
Basques, Newfoundland and Ile aux Basques, a small island in the lower
estuary of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec. Numerous Spanish
explorations on the Pacific coast between 1542 and 1792 are recalled in
names such as Alberni, Laredo Strait, Carmelo Strait,
Mazaredo Sound, Mount Bodega, Quadra Rocks and Narvaez Bay (see also
Quadra Island). At one time Vancouver Island in British Columbia was
called Quadra and Vancouver's Island to commemorate the friendship
between the Spanish navigator Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra and
English Captain George Vancouver.
Migration and Settlement
Between 1913 and 1914 about 2000 Spaniards arrived in Canada. Between
1920 and 1945, only 408 Spaniards came to Canada. Some Spanish farmers
immigrated to Canada in 1957 under an agreement between Canada and
Spain. Most immigrants arrived during the 1960s and 70s (16, 184 between
1961 and 1989) with approximately 1300 arriving each of the peak years
1966, 1967 and 1968. After 1977, immigration dropped off significantly.
The 2016 census reported that 396, 460 people of Spanish origin live in
Canada. Most reside in the provinces of Ontario (171, 145), Quebec (85,
360) and British Columbia (64, 475).
Social and Cultural Life
Most Spanish immigrants are formally Roman Catholic, but there is also a
very small group of active Protestants. Many Spanish cultural, social
and recreational organizations are concentrated in Montreal and Toronto.
Very often, they share their activities with other Spanish-speaking
groups. Dance groups, especially of the flamenco variety, flourish in
In the 2016 census, 495,090 people reported Spanish as their mother
tongue language (first language learned), representing 1.4 per cent of
the total population and 6.4 per cent of immigrant languages spoken as a
mother tongue in Canada.
Spanish Festival in
to Canada ~ From Spain
Almost 1.8 Million
Canadians Speak Spanish
Canada - Spain Relations
Political and defense relations
Canada and Spain are partners and allies in a strong relationship based
on shared interests and values. Both countries, which have decentralised
political structures, share an abiding belief in the fundamental values
of respect for human rights, democracy, the empowerment of women and
diverse and inclusive societies. Canada and Spain are committed to fight
against climate change and to work for a sustainable management of the
environment. They believe in progressive and open economic and trade
relations as a source of prosperity for all. They trust that these
values must be preserved in a rules-based international order. A
Canada-Spain Cooperation Agenda was agreed by the two Prime Ministers in
2018 in Montreal, accompanied by a Declaration in Favour of Gender
Spain and Canada are committed to defending international peace and
global security. They are excellent partners at the multilateral level
and work together within several institutions such as the United Nations
(UN). Spain and Canada are active members of NATO and the two countries
are active participants in a variety of multilateral peace and security
operations, especially in the NATO multinational battle group in Latvia,
led by Canada, and in the International Coalition against Daesh in Iraq.
Commercial relations, investment and innovation
Canada and Spain enjoy a stable trading relationship, which has entered
into a new chapter with the entry into force of the Comprehensive
Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). As a progressive trade agreement,
CETA addresses or eliminates barriers in virtually all sectors and
aspects of Canada-Spain bilateral trade, increases jobs and promotes new
commercial opportunities for Canadian and Spanish businesses. Spain
ratified CETA in December 2017.
The strength of the bilateral economic relationship lies in strong
two-way investment and collaboration. Bilateral innovation and
technological cooperation is facilitated through Horizon Europe and the
international Eureka program, where organizations such as Canada’s
National Research Council and Spain’s Centre for Industrial
Technological Development (CDTI) support market-oriented joint projects.
Youth mobility, education and culture
Spain and Canada enjoy strong academic relations with more than 100
agreements between Canadian and Spanish universities. Spanish students
increasingly choose Canada as a destination for their studies and the
multiple agreements between Canadian and Spanish universities attest to
the excellent collaboration between the two academic communities. Thanks
to the bilateral Youth Mobility Agreement (2009), young Spaniards and
Canadians have increasingly taken the opportunity to work and study in
Canada and Spain respectively.
Spain also has Memorandums of Understanding with several provinces,
including Alberta (2006), Manitoba (2014) and British Columbia (2016),
to support Spanish-English bilingual education opportunities.
Spaniards have shown great interest in Canadian art and culture. Spanish
editors translate and publish Canadian authors in Spain. Canadian visual
and performing artists are regulars on the Spanish cultural scene. The
Spanish film market is highly receptive to Canadian cinema.
Collaboration in the audio-visual field between both countries is
facilitated by the coproduction agreement between Canada and Spain in
cinema, television and other audio-visual formats.
By reason of the recent death of Professor W. H. Fraser of the
University of Toronto, Spanish studies have lost a staunch friend.
Professor Fraser was born at Bond Head, Simcoe Co., Ont., in 1853. He
prepared for the university at Bradford High School, and then, after
several years of teaching in country schools, entered the University of
Toronto. He was graduated in 1880 and soon after became master of French
and German at Upper Canada College, Toronto. After a year of study
passed abroad in 1886, Professor Fraser was appointed head of the
department of Italian and Spanish in the University of Toronto. He had
nearly completed 30 years of faithful and brilliant service in his alma
mater when death called him, December 28, 1916.
Professor Fraser is best known in the United States as one of the
authors of several very successful French and German grammars. It will
therefore surprise many to learn that he had taught neither of these
languages for over 30 years previous to his death. While his name was
familiar to all Romance scholars, few in this country knew him
intimately. He seldom attended the meetings of the Modern Language
Association, and never contributed to technical journals. His interests
were broad rather than specialized.
Teachers of Spanish should never forget that Professor Fraser was the
first departmental head on this continent to organize a four year course
in Spanish. This is the more remarkable because to this day no other
Canadian university includes Spanish in its curriculum; the same is
true, I believe, of all Canadian high schools. As an administrator his
career was one long struggle, characterized by many disappointments, but
rewarded with many conspicuous successes. His first task was to engage
in newspaper propaganda to gain for his university adequate financial
support from unwilling legislatures. Next he embarked in a campaign to
secure for the modern languages their rightful place of equality with
the traditional classic subjects. To the end of his life he was forced
to contend to ensure a dignified status for the two “minor” languages
which he professed. Education in Canada is bureaucratic,
state-controlled. Admirable as this system is in many respects, it makes
very difficult the task of the educational reformer. Entrenched
conservatism is buttressed with acts of parliament. Only a popular
demand can readily effect a change. Happily there are many signs of such
a demand in Canada at present. Canada is experiencing a reflex of the
vast interest in things Spanish now felt south of the line. Newspapers
and politicians are beginning to clamor for more instruction in Spanish.
Teachers’ meetings frequently discuss the question. Everything now
indicates that Spanish has a bright future
in Canada. It will soon be taught in many secondary schools and then
universities can no longer ignore it. The growing importance of Spanish
in the mother country, too, works to the same end. (Leeds and the
University of London have recently founded chairs of Spanish.) And when
this result is brought to pass, no small part of it will be. due to the
life work of Professor Fraser. Professor Fraser has many claims to
gratitude on the part of modern language teachers. Teachers of Spanish
will remember him as the pioneer of the Spanish movement in Canada.
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