Selected Presidential Quotes on Canada

Source: Public Papers of the Presidents and FDR Presidential Library

“I read in a newspaper that I was to be received with all the honors customarily rendered to a foreign ruler. I am grateful for the honors; but something within me rebelled at that word ‘foreign’. I say this because when I have been in Canada, I have never heard a Canadian refer to an American as a ‘foreigner’. He is just an ‘American’. And, in the same way, in the United States, Canadians are not ‘foreigners’, they are ‘Canadians’. That simple little distinction illustrates to me better than anything else the relationship between our two countries.”

“On both sides of the line, we are so accustomed to an undefended boundary three thousand miles long that we are inclined perhaps to minimize its vast importance, not only to our own continuing relations but also to the example which it sets to the other nations of the world.”

“The trade agreement which I had the privilege of signing with your Prime Minister last autumn is tangible evidence of the desire of the people of both countries to practice what they preach when they speak of the good neighbor. In the solution of the grave problems that face the world today, frank dealing, cooperation and a spirit of give and take between nations is more important than ever before.

– President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Visit to Quebec, July 31, 1936

“Your course and mine have run so closely and affectionately during these many long years that this meeting adds another link to that chain. I have always felt at home in Canada and you, I think, have always felt at home in the United States.”

– President Roosevelt, Address to the Canadian Parliament, August 25, 1943

“Canada’s eminent position today is a tribute to the patience, tolerance, and strength of character of her people, of both French and British strains. For Canada is enriched by the heritage of France as well as of Britain, and Quebec has imparted the vitality and spirit of France itself to Canada. Canada’s notable achievement of national unity and progress through accommodation, moderation and forbearance can be studied with profit by her sister nations.”

“Canada is a broad land — broad in mind, broad in spirit, and broad in physical expanse.”

“Canada and the United States have reached the point where we no longer think of each other as ‘foreign’ countries. We think of each other as friends, as peaceful and cooperative neighbors on a spacious and fruitful continent.”

“Canadian-American relations for many years did not develop spontaneously. The example of accord provided by our two countries did not come about merely through the happy circumstance of geography. It is compounded of one part proximity and nine parts good will and common sense.”

“The record proves that in peaceful commerce the combined efforts of our countries can produce outstanding results. Our trade with each other is far greater than that of any other two nations on earth.”

“We seek a peaceful world, a prosperous world, a free world, a world of good neighbors, living on terms of equality and mutual respect, as Canada and the United States have lived for generations.”

– President Harry Truman, Address before the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, June 11, 1947

“Our objective, of course, in the visit to Mexico and in the visit to Canada, is to solidify the friendship of the people who live on this continent. We want to do that for the whole Western Hemisphere, and then we want to do it for the whole world.”

– President Truman, News conference with Prime Minister Mackenzie King near Ottawa, June 12, 1947

“Your country, my country — each is a better and stronger and more influential nation because each can rely upon every resource of the other in days of crisis. Beyond this, each can work and grow and prosper with the other through years of quiet peace.”

“It is still a fact that our common frontier grows stronger every year, defended only by friendship.”

“You, of Canada, are building a magnificent record of achievement. My country rejoices in it.”

– President Dwight Eisenhower, Address before a joint session of the Parliament of Canada, November 14, 1953

“Change is the law of life and of relations between nations. When two great peoples such as ours, energetic and optimistic, live side by side in all the diversity that freedom offers, change is rapid and brings in its wake problems, sometimes frictions.”

“By mutual respect, understanding and with good will we can find acceptable solutions to any problems which exist or may arise between us.”

“Our forms of government — though both cast in the democratic pattern — are greatly different. Indeed, sometimes it appears that many of our misunderstandings spring from an imperfect knowledge on the part of both of us of the dissimilarities in our forms of government.”

“I assure you that it is our desire and intention to keep the doors of consultation always and fully open. There must never be a final word between friends.”

– President Eisenhower, Address to the members of the Canadian Houses of Parliament, July 9, 1958

“Je me sens vraiment entre amis. (I feel that I am truly among friends.)”

“Nearly forty years ago, a distinguished Prime Minister of this country … said, ‘They may not be angels but they are at least our friends.’* I must say that I do not think that we probably demonstrated in that forty years that we are angels yet, but I hope we have demonstrated that we are at least friends.” (* Origin uncertain; may be Prime Minister Arthur Meighen)

“Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.”

“We do not seek the unanimity that comes to those who water down all issues to the lowest common denominator — or to those who conceal their differences behind fixed smiles — or to those who measure unity by standards of popularity and affection, instead of trust and respect. We are allies. This is a partnership, not an empire. We are bound to have differences and disappointments — and we are equally bound to bring them out into the open, to settle them where they can be settled, and to respect each other’s views when they cannot be settled.”

“Our alliance is born, not of fear, but of hope. It is an alliance that advances what we are for, as well as opposes what we are against.”

– President John Kennedy, Address before the Canadian Parliament, May 17, 1961

“We of the United States consider ourselves blessed. We have much to give thanks for. But the gift of providence we cherish most is that we were given as our neighbors on this wonderful continent the people and the nation of Canada.”

– President Lyndon Johnson, Remarks at Expo ’67, Montréal, May 25, 1967

“No nation in the world has had greater fortune than mine in sharing a continent with the people and the nation of Canada.”

– President Johnson, Remarks at welcoming ceremony at Vancouver International Airport, September 16, 1964

“Our partnership has been built on four pillars The first pillar is peace. The second pillar is freedom. The third pillar is respect. The fourth pillar is cooperation.”

“You have your own difficulties. We watch, with friendly confidence in your capacity to merge differences in the grand dream of Canadian design.”

– President Johnson, Remarks upon proclaiming the Columbia River Treaty, International Peace Arch, Blaine, Washington, September 16, 1964

“Our peaceful borders and our peaceful history are important symbols, to be sure. What they symbolize, however, is the spirit of respect and restraint which allow us to cooperate, despite our differences, in way which help us both.”

“For among nations — as within nations — the soundest unity is that which respects diversity, and the strongest cohesion is that which rejects coercion.”

“It has been said that Canada is bounded ‘on the north by gold, on the west by the East, on the east by history — and on the south by friends’.* We hope that will always be the case and we hope it will be the case not only with respect to the United States, your immediate neighbor to the south, but with respect to all your southern neighbors — and ours — who are bound by the great forces of geography and history which are distinctive to the New World.” (*Frances Shelley Wees, “Geography Lesson”)

“When I spoke at the St. Lawrence Seaway ceremonies in 1969, I borrowed some words from the monument there which I had joined Queen Elizabeth in dedicating just 10 years before. That monument, as its inscription puts it, ‘bears witness to the common purpose of two nations whose frontiers are the frontiers of friendship, whose ways are the ways of freedom, whose works are the works of peace’.”

President Richard Nixon, Address to a joint meeting of the Canadian Parliament, April 14, 1972

“In 1939 Winston Churchill, describing the 5000-mile peaceful border dividing Canada and the United States, said, ‘That long frontier from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, guarded only by neighborly respect and honorable obligations, is an example to every country and a pattern for the future of the world.”

President Ronald Reagan, Radio Address to the Nation, March 16, 1985

“We’re more than friends and neighbors and allies; we are kin, who together have built the most productive relationship between any two countries in the world today.”

– President Reagan, Remarks at welcoming ceremony, Quebec City, March 17, 1985

“As two proud and independent peoples, there is much that distinguishes us one from the other, but there is also much that we share: a vast continent, with its common hardships and uncommon duties; generations of mutual respect and support, and an abiding friendship that grows ever stronger.”

“The United States trades more with the province of Ontario alone than with Japan.”

“We can look forward to the day when the free flow of trade, from the southern reaches of Tierra del Fuego to the northern outposts of the Arctic Circle, unites the people of the Western Hemisphere in a bond of mutually beneficial exchange, when all borders become what the U.S.-Canadian border so long has been: a meeting place, rather than a dividing line.”

– President Reagan, Address to a joint session of Parliament, April 6, 1987

“Shared history, shared borders — they are the foundation of our unique and intensely productive relationship, an alliance the likes of which the world has really never seen before.”

– President Clinton, Remarks at a Luncheon, Ottawa, February 23, 1995

“Ours is the world’s most remarkable relationship – the Prime Minister said, whether we like it or not. I can tell you that on most days I like it very, very much.”

“We’re neighbors by the grace of nature. We are allies and friends by choice.”

“In a world darkened by ethnic conflicts that literally tear nations apart, Canada has stood for all of us as a model of how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, prosperity, and respect.”

“The United States, as many of my predecessors have said, has enjoyed its excellent relationship with a strong and united Canada, but we recognize … that your political future is, of course, entirely for you to decide.”

“Every day, people, ideas, and goods stream across our border. Bilateral trade now is more than a billion Canadian dollars every day … and about 270 billion United States dollars last year, by far the world’s largest bilateral relationship.”

“Friendship, engagement: Canada and the United States have shown the best there is in partnerships between nations, all the great potential that awaits all the free peoples of this Earth if they can join in common cause.”

“The border separates our peoples, but there are no boundaries to our common dreams.”

– President Clinton, Remarks to the Canadian Parliament, Ottawa, February 23, 1995

“I view the relationship with Canada as a vital relationship for the United States. The relationship, of course, is defined government-to-government. It’s also defined people-to-people, and there’s a lot of people in my country who respect Canada and have great relations with Canadians, and we intend to keep it that way.”

– President George W. Bush, 30 March 2006

“I think that Canada is one of the most impressive countries in the world, the way it has managed a diverse population, a migrant economy. The natural beauty of Canada is extraordinary. Obviously there is enormous kinship between the United States and Canada, and the ties that bind our two countries together are things that are very important to us.”

– President Barack Obama, Interview with CBC News, 17 February 2009

“I came to Canada on my first trip as President to underscore the closeness and importance of the relationship between our two nations, and to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to work with friends and partners to meet the common challenges of our time. As neighbors, we are so closely linked that sometimes we may have a tendency to take our relationship for granted, but the very success of our friendship throughout history demands that we renew and deepen our cooperation here in the 21st century. We’re joined together by the world’s largest trading relationship and countless daily interactions that keep our borders open and secure. We share core democratic values and a commitment to work on behalf of peace, prosperity, and human rights around the world.”

– President Obama, Working Visit to Ottawa, 19 February 2009

“There are no closer friends that we have than the Canadians. And we share values, we share culture. The ties between our people are extraordinary. We are NATO Allies, and across the board, our interests align.”

– President Obama, Meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau at APEC Summit, 19 November 2015