Canadians in California Through the Lens of Facebook

Canada is our neighbour to the north. The one who spells neighbour with a "u".

Generally it is a country we don't spend much time thinking about even though (or perhaps because) we share the longest undefended border in the world and have forged the world's largest trade and security partnership. Over $734 billion a year in two-way goods and services trade in fact. That's $1.4 million per minute. Canada is our #1 customer nationally buying more from the U.S. than does any other nation and that includes all 28 nations in the European Union - combined. Recently our neighbor has been in the news as one of the Trans- Pacific Partnership nations and this week, for a national election which brings a new Prime Minister to office.

At MAPLE Business Council, we are a non-profit organization focused on bringing attention to the robust trade and the deep partnership which exists between Southern California and Canada as we connect executives and entrepreneurs for bilateral business opportunities. As the second largest trading partner with the state of California, Canada participates in approximately $46 billion a year in goods and services trade. We have historic ties that date back to fur trading days and today over 1.2 million California jobs are tied to trade and investment with Canada. Definitely a relationship not just worth thinking about but a partnership worth celebrating!

On a household level California has long been a popular destination for Canadians to vacation and escape winters that last too long. And many Canadians have made the Golden State their home after coming here to study, vacation or for work. As Canadians we are not easily identifiable as an expatriate community which can obscure the contributions we are making as fellow Californians. In fact, we often hear from both Americans and Canadians living in California how they belatedly "discovered" that a neighbor, co-worker or friend hails from Canada originally.

One admittedly non-scientific way to glean a few insights on our neighbors - the "Canadians Among Us" - is to look at the profile of Facebook users who self-identify as Canadian expats with an interest in Canada. This group actually numbers 35-40,000 active users per month - certainly not close to representing all Canadians in California but a sizable cohort nonetheless.

Demographically, these California-based Canadian expat users of Facebook tend to be be a little older than all California Facebook users with 64% of women 35 years of age or older (compared to 53%) and 59% of men (compared to 48%). Interestingly, Canadian expats are much more likely to be married (62% vs 44%) and have attended graduate school (21% vs 9%).  Canadian Facebook users in California have a higher representation in fields such as arts/entertainment/media/sports (28% vs 21%); computers/maths (16% vs 7%); IT/technical (20% vs 10%); and life/physical/social sciences (12% vs 7%).  A greater percentage of the Canadian expat community active on Facebook lives in San Francisco (13% vs 6%) with the greatest absolute number living in Los Angeles (25% vs 22%). Home ownership is comparable to all California Facebook users (53% vs 55%) but with a higher percentage of 1-person households (39% vs 31%). And household income skews higher at $100k per household annually and above.

So these stats begin to paint a picture of our Canadian neighbors within California as a group that is contributing to California's economy in a number of key fields, through their disposable income, home ownership and educational attainment. But regardless of the magnitude of the statistics, the heart of our cross-border success and the benefits to the California economy rest in the longstanding friendship and commitment to growth and partnership between our nations and between us as neighbors.

Stephen Armstrong is co-founder of MAPLE Business Council, a non-profit senior executive council focused on promoting trade and investment between  Canada and Southern California. Stephen is principal of The 360 Marketer, a marketing consultancy. For more information on MAPLE, please visit