Canuck. A Canadian, specifically, a French Canadian.
One of the earliest uses of the word ‘Canuck’ in print (although there it was spelled as ‘Kanuk’) appears in ‘From Notes Upon Canada and the United States’ by Henry Cook Todd and published around 1835:
“Canadians are somewhat jealous of the Americans; that they are secretly manoeuvering, not exactly with the inoffensive good humor of a much respected yeoman of England, in whose sequestered dwelling I some time resided, who was fond of pozing the learned with …”
“Can you spell bullock in two letters (or) but rather after the inordinate example of Ahab of old, so pithily recorded by the sacred historian. Jonathan distinguishes a Dutch or French Canadian, by the term Kanuk. ‘Jonathan distinguishes a Dutch or French Canadian, by the term Kanuk.’”
Later (1855), Walt Whitman wrote the poem ‘Leaves of Grass’ and referenced the Kanuck – again, with a ‘K’ …
“A child said What is the grass? …
How could I answer the child?
I do not know what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition
out of hopeful green stuff woven. …
Or I guess the grass is itself a child …
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike
in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff
I give them the same, I receive them the same.
“The origin of Canuck is curiously uncertain. On the face of it, the word would appear to derive from the first syllable of Canada. Other guesses have been made, however …”
“… e.g., that it comes from Johnny Canuck, a cartoon character of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, similar to John Bull and Uncle Sam, that it comes from Connaught, originally used by French Canadians to refer to Irish immigrants …”
“… and that it is a variant of the Hawaiian kanaka, man, brought by whalers back to New England, whose residents then applied the term to their neighbors to the North.”
“The last theory, as farfetched as it might seem, is reinforced by the earliest known spelling of the word: Kanuk (noted in 1835 above, and in Walt Whitman’s poem (referring to all Canadians, not just those of French extraction)).” (Rawson)
Hawaiians in the northwest and reference to ‘kanaka’ outside the islands started shortly after ‘contact.’ Within ten years after Captain Cook’s 1778 contact with Hawai‘i, the islands became a favorite port of call in the trade with China. The fur traders and merchant ships crossing the Pacific needed to replenish food supplies and water.
The maritime fur trade focused on acquiring furs of sea otters, seals and other animals from the Pacific Northwest Coast and Alaska. The furs were mostly sold in China in exchange for tea, silks, porcelain and other Chinese goods, which were then sold in Europe and the United States.
Needing supplies in their journey, the traders soon realized they could economically barter for provisions in Hawai‘i; a triangular trade network emerged linking the Pacific Northwest coast, China and the Hawaiian Islands to Britain and the United States (especially New England).
As early as 1811, Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) had already hired twelve Hawaiians on three year contracts to work for them in the Pacific Northwest. By 1824, HBC employed thirty-five Hawaiians west of the Rocky Mountains.
The number of Hawaiians working as contract laborers for the Hudson’s Bay Company steadily grew. The large number of Hawaiian workers in the village at Fort Vancouver led to the name “Kanaka Town” in the early 1850s.
Again, it is not clear if Canuck is any form of derivation of Kanaka (man), but the Hawaiians were there, and the Kanaka name was used in other references.