Much of the 19th Century in Canada was characterized by the fear of, and planning for, the expected American invasion, as in 1812. Ottawa was chosen as the site of the capitol because it was farther away from the border than any other location available, despite the fact that it was a small town best known as a way point for the lumber trades floating their logs out of northern Ontario and northern Quebec (this was still true as late as the mid 1950's when great booms of logs floated by the Parliament buildings, a sight often featured in old movies and travel folders). Most of the 19th Century Public works like canals and railroads in Canada were built to counter "the American threat". When you consider it, living next to a charging dynamic society ten times your population is a fairly uncomfortable position to be in, even now.
Canada had a terrific reputation in the First and Second World Wars. Almost half of the top scoring fighter pilots on the Allied side in WW1 were Canadian. Their infantry too was greatly prized by the British and French who had a tendency to use Canadians as shock troops to storm impregnable positions like Vimy Ridge. There's a little patriotic squib that appears periodically on the telvision here, one of those 1 minute history lessons that tells of the 4 winners of the Victoria Cross who all lived on the Pine Street in Winnipeg. The name of the road was later changed to Valour Road.
The storming of Monte Cassino was carried out by Poles and Canadians after the US Army gave it up as a bad job in WW2. And one of the five beaches in Normandy was assigned to the Canadians who achieved all their Day One objectives on time unlike either the British or the Americans. The top scoring British fighter pilot lead a trio of Canadian Squadrons for much of WW2 and had nothing but praise for them, and Canadians were prized as aircrew in Bomber Command, and suffered unusually high losses because of their "press on" spirit.
Canada has been a pillar of the UN peacekeeping, in the Middle East after 1947, in Cyprus after the Brits withdrew in the 60's. 38 soldiers were killed in Cyprus over the period of Canadian peacekeeping there. They were also involved, though somewhat less successfully, in Rwanda and in Bosnia.
I have already mentioned Canadian participation in the First Gulf War, and in Afghanistan. American troops who serve with Canadian troops are, so far as I have heard, very pleased to work with them. There was a small diplomatic incident generated because the US Army awarded US medals to Canadians working with US forces in Afghanistan.
Canada has always had to deal with "the French Fact". The fact that roughly 40% of the population is of French origin and who feel disinclined to go along with anything that might be seen as supporting either Britain or the United States or France for that matter. A significant portion of the Quebec populace have been more interested in their own province and, lately, independence than in participating in a larger whole. There were crises in both world wars over conscription, with French Canadians vigorously opposed to any conscription at all, and the rest of Canada (very WASP and predominantly of British origin at the time) outraged by their reluctance. There are however celebrated and courageous regiments of volunteers who have come out of Quebec like the Fusiliers de Montreal, and the Royal 22 Regiment known as the "Van Doos" from their number in french (vingt-deuxieme for twenty second).
It's an unmilitary country with a very good military reputation which is contradictory but in keeping with the traditions of England where military service either in the ranks or as an officer was not a cherished position. Wellington's comment about the British Army comes to mind in this regard. "The scum of the earth led by the fool of the family" characterized the early 19th century British Army and British society's attitude towards it. The army was usually thought of as a career for the less gifted members of the British aristocracy and remains so, to a degree, to this day though there was a patch after WW2 where promotion was through Officer Candidate Examinations for the ranks rather than just through the military academies like Sandhurst.
What's your take on what you read?
If anyone is really interested in all this, Pierre Berton, a Canadian journalist and author has published extensively on Canadian history, and specifically on the War of 1812, on the building of the Canadian transcontinental railroad (by an American) and the First and Second World Wars. He writes very readable and well researched books. It's how I learned my Canadian History so that I could keep up with my son, although it was NOT the origin of my opinions on the War of 1812 which I formulated while still a history student in the States. In US university history circles what I have said in that regard is the general opinion and what "everybody knows".