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Australians

Vast and barren areas of land, extremes in temperature, histories shaped by the British colonial experience—Australians and Canadians have much in common. Australia's ties to Canada go as far back as the 18th century, as many of the sailors and soldiers who founded Australia in 1788 were previously stationed in Nova Scotia. Due to their British roots, Australians in Canada are often misidentified as British. However, Australians will firmly assert that they have developed their own culture based on a pastoral tradition reflected in much of their art, literature and music.

Although most Australians and many Canadians share a common British cultural heritage, the proportion of the Australian population that is of British decent is greater than that found in Canada. Nonetheless, the close similarities between the two countries have provided new Australian immigrants with an easy transition to Canadian society.

It is impossible to ascertain the number of Australians that arrived in Canada prior to World War II. During this period, separate figures for Australian figures were not recorded. However, statistics show that approximately 60,000 Australians emigrated to Canada between 1946-1984. A large number settled in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. Toronto and Vancouver are the most popular centres of immigration.

The 2001 census states that there are approximately 4,470 Australians living in Alberta at present, although they do not generally form separate communities and the majority reside in Calgary or Edmonton. A large proportion of those who came to the province after 1960 were professionals, teachers in particular, nurses and academics.

Australians in Alberta have been continuously active in a wide range of sports and recreation activities, including skiing, soccer, harness racing, golf, rowing, squash, cricket, tennis, rugby and swimming. Many Australian professional tennis players, golfers, squash players and motor-racers visit Alberta and other Canadian provinces for competitions. Australian symphony orchestras, rock groups, ballet companies and opera stars frequently delight audiences across the country. The cultural rapport between Canada and Australia is also enhanced though various exchange programs for students, teachers and recent university graduates. In addition, many Canadian companies are active in the mining, oil and gas industries in Australia and send Australian employees to Alberta for training.

Australians have formed a number of social clubs in Canada, three of which have chapters across the country. The oldest of these is the Australian-New Zealand Association (ANZA) formed in Vancouver in 1935. ANZA focuses on fostering friendly relations between Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders. There are Edmonton and Calgary ANZA chapters. The Australian-Canadian Chamber of Commerce is based in Toronto and was formed in 1994 as a non-profit organization aimed at supporting business and commercial activity between Australia and Canada.

The other two major Australian associations in Canada are TRANZAC based in Toronto, and Southern Cross International, which has its national headquarters in Quebec. The latter organization has affiliates in Calgary and Edmonton. The Friends of Down Under is located in Calgary and is one of two chapters located in western Canada (the other is Winnipeg). These clubs regularly organize recreational and social events, publish newspapers and provide travel information for their members. Clubs also organize Australians to celebrate two special occasions: Australia Day on January 26th, and Anzac Day (Australia's Remembrance Day) on April 25th.

All Canadians continue to be the beneficiaries of a rich cultural exchange between Canada and Australia.

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