As for the AWB result, what colour was the light? If it was tungsten then the Canon is a more accurate representation of the actual colour of the scene, the NIkon has removed the colour, take your pick.
Sorry, but it's auto white balance – the idea is to render a white/neutral object in the scene as white/neutral in the image, not to render it as 'the actual color of the scene'. Under tungsten light, AWB on most Canon bodies will render a white object as orange. That's a WB fail (even if it's by Canon's design - they should put that tweak into a Picture Style, not AWB).
I have found that to be the theory, but not the execution. Certainly all bodies seem to handle AWB differently, often the same body in the same situation will produce different WB levels in a sequence. Also, WB is only one part of the WB control, Tint is the other.
When I shoot tethered I can do an in camera custom WB and it looks good, if I then go into DPP whilst tethered I can re WB that image with the additional Tint control and it shifts, sometimes quite a lot.
I know WB is supposed to give you "true", even valued, white black and gray tones, but there is no doubt that in camera it doesn't, all my AWB tungsten shots have an orange colour, and I am happy with that, maybe it is just the difference between the Tungsten temp and the actual colour if the bulbs I have used.
My first 1D actually had an exterior WB window that measured some ambient, it didn't rely on 100% TTL, I really liked the AWB on that camera but not so much since.
AWB, like auto exposure, kinda seems to put you in the ball park most of the time, but it doesn't actually know what you are trying to do as a photographer.