|Republic of Canada|
|Anthem: O Canada|
|Motto: A Mari Usque Ad Mare|
From Sea to Sea
|Government||Federal parliamentary republic|
|- Upper house||Senate|
|- Lower house||House of Deputies|
|Currency||Canadian dollar ($)|
|- Constitution Act, 1867||July 1, 1867|
|- Independence from the British Empire||November 27, 1919|
The Federal Republic of Canada is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by total area. Canada's common border with the United States to the south and Alaska to the northwest. It was granted independence from Great Britain in 1919 and spent World War II neutral developing its government.
The name Canada comes from a St. Lawrence Iroquoian word, kanata, meaning "village" or "settlement". In 1535, indigenous inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the word to direct French explorer Jacques Cartier towards the village of Stadacona. Cartier later used the word Canada to refer not only to that particular village, but also the entire area subject to Donnacona (the chief at Stadacona); by 1545, European books and maps had begun referring to this region as Canada.
In the 17th and early 18th century, Canada referred to the part of New France that lay along the Saint Lawrence River and the northern shores of the Great Lakes. The area was later split into two British colonies, Upper Canada and Lower Canada. They were re-unified as the Province of Canada in 1841. Upon Confederation in 1867, the name Canada was adopted as the legal name for the new country, and Dominion (a term from Psalm 72:8) was conferred as the country's title. Combined, the term Dominion of Canada was in common usage until the 1950s. As Canada asserted its political autonomy from the United Kingdom, the federal government increasingly used simply Canada on state documents and treaties, a change that was reflected in the renaming of the national holiday from Dominion Day to Canada Day in 1982.
Archaeological and Indigenous genetic studies support a human presence in the northern Yukon from 26,500 years ago, and in southern Ontario from 9,500 years ago. Old Crow Flats and Bluefish Caves are two of the earliest archaeological sites of human (Paleo-Indians) habitation in Canada. Among the First Nations peoples, there are eight unique stories of creation and their adaptations. The characteristics of Canadian Aboriginal societies included permanent settlements, agriculture, civic and ceremonial architecture, complex societal hierarchies and trading networks. Some of these cultures had long faded by the time of the first permanent European arrivals (c. late 15th–early 16th centuries), and have been discovered through archaeological investigations.
The aboriginal population is estimated to have been between 200,000 and two million in the late 15th century, with a figure of 500,000 currently accepted by Canada's Royal Commission on Aboriginal Health. Repeated outbreaks of European infectious diseases such as influenza, measles and smallpox (to which they had no natural immunity), combined with other effects of European contact, resulted in a forty to eighty percent aboriginal population decrease post-contact. Aboriginal peoples in Canada include the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. The Métis a culture of mixed blood originated in the mid-17th century when First Nation and Inuit married European settlers. The Inuit had more limited interaction with European settlers during the colonization period.
Europeans first arrived when Norse sailors settled briefly at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around 1000. No further European exploration occurred until 1497, when Italian seafarer Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) explored Canada's Atlantic coast for England. Between 1498 and 1521, Basque and Portuguese mariners established seasonal whaling and fishing outposts along the Atlantic coast. In 1534 Jacques Cartier explored the Saint Lawrence River for France. French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in 1603 and established the first permanent European settlements at Port Royal in 1605 and Quebec City in 1608. Among French colonists of New France, Canadiens extensively settled the Saint Lawrence River valley and Acadians settled the present-day Maritimes, while French fur traders and Catholic missionaries explored the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and the Mississippi watershed to Louisiana. The French and Iroquois Wars broke out over control of the North American fur trade.
The English established fishing outposts in Newfoundland around 1610 and established the Thirteen Colonies to the south. A series of four Intercolonial Wars erupted between 1689 and 1763. Mainland Nova Scotia came under British rule with the Treaty of Utrecht (1713); the Treaty of Paris (1763) ceded Canada and most of New France to Britain after the Seven Years' War.
The Royal Proclamation (1763) carved the Province of Quebec out of New France and annexed Cape Breton Island to Nova Scotia. St. John's Island (now Prince Edward Island) became a separate colony in 1769. To avert conflict in Quebec, the British passed the Quebec Act of 1774, expanding Quebec's territory to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. It re-established the French language, Catholic faith, and French civil law there. This angered many residents of the Thirteen Colonies and helped to fuel the American Revolution.
The Treaty of Paris (1783) recognized American independence and ceded territories south of the Great Lakes to the United States. Around 50,000 United Empire Loyalists fled the United States to Canada. New Brunswick was split from Nova Scotia as part of a reorganization of Loyalist settlements in the Maritimes. To accommodate English-speaking Loyalists in Quebec, the Constitutional Act of 1791 divided the province into French-speaking Lower Canada (later the province of Quebec) and English-speaking Upper Canada (later Ontario), granting each its own elected Legislative Assembly.
Canada (Upper and Lower) was the main front in the War of 1812 between the United States and the British Empire. Following the war, large-scale immigration to Canada from Britain and Ireland began in 1815. From 1825 to 1846, 626,628 European immigrants landed at Canadian ports. Between one-quarter and one-third of all Europeans who immigrated to Canada before 1891 died of infectious diseases. The timber industry surpassed the fur trade in economic importance in the early 19th century.
The desire for responsible government resulted in the aborted Rebellions of 1837. The Durham Report subsequently recommended responsible government and the assimilation of French Canadians into British culture. The Act of Union 1840 merged The Canadas into a united Province of Canada. Responsible government was established for all British North American provinces by 1849. The signing of the Oregon Treaty by Britain and the United States in 1846 ended the Oregon boundary dispute, extending the border westward along the 49th parallel. This paved the way for British colonies on Vancouver Island (1849) and in British Columbia (1858). Canada launched a series of exploratory expeditions to claim Rupert's Land and the Arctic region.
Confederation and expansion
Main articles: Canadian Confederation and Territorial evolution of CanadaFollowing several constitutional conferences, the Constitution Act, 1867 officially proclaimed Canadian Confederation, creating "one Dominion under the name of Canada" on July 1, 1867, with four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Canada assumed control of Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory to form the Northwest Territories, where the Métis' grievances ignited the Red River Rebellion and the creation of the province of Manitoba in July 1870. British Columbia and Vancouver Island (which had united in 1866) and the colony of Prince Edward Island joined the Confederation in 1871 and 1873, respectively. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald's Conservative government established a national policy of tariffs to protect nascent Canadian manufacturing industries.
To open the West, the government sponsored construction of three transcontinental railways (including the Canadian Pacific Railway), opened the prairies to settlement with the Dominion Lands Act, and established the North-West Mounted Police to assert its authority over this territory. In 1898, after the Klondike Gold Rush in the Northwest Territories, the Canadian government created the Yukon Territory. Under Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, continental European immigrants settled the prairies, and Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905
World War I
Because Britain still maintained control of Canada's foreign affairs under the Confederation Act, its declaration of war in 1914 automatically brought Canada into World War I. Volunteers sent to the Western Front later became part of the Canadian Corps. The Corps played a substantial role in the Battle of Vimy Ridge and other major battles of the war. Out of approximately 625,000 who served, about 60,000 were killed and another 173,000 were wounded. The Conscription Crisis of 1917 erupted when conservative Prime Minister Robert Borden brought in compulsory military service over the objection of French-speaking Quebecers. When Britain surrendered in 1918, Canada sent a delegation to Berlin and negotiated Canadian independence. After debate independence for Canada was protected and agreed by all in the Treaty of Berne.
Canada suffered greatly when the Great Depression began in 1929. While the decline started in the United States, it quickly spread to Canada because of the gold standard and the close economic links between the two countries. The Canadian economy was the second-worst affected in the world by the Depression, after the United States. The first area affected was wheat, which saw a collapse in prices. This destroyed the economies of the Prairie provinces, but as wheat was then Canada's largest export it also hurt the rest of the country. This was soon followed by a deep recession in manufacturing, first caused by a drop-off in demand in the United States, and then by Canadians also not buying unneeded luxuries. Perhaps most harmful, however, was the subsequent reduction of investment: both large companies and individuals were unwilling and unable to invest in new ventures. Unemployment rose to 25 per cent.
President Mackenzie King said that everyone should believe the crisis would pass and he refused to send federal aid to any Tory-run Provinces, a decision which he never lived down. Additionally, he introduced only moderate relief efforts. The Liberals lost the 1930 election to Richard Bedford Bennett and the Conservatives. Bennett, a successful Western businessman, campaigned on high tariffs and large scale spending, but as deficits increased he became wary and cut back severely on Federal spending. With falling support and the depression only getting worse Bennett attempted to introduce policies based on the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) in the United States, but this was largely unsuccessful. The government became a focus of popular discontent, even though its policies were largely the same as those of other Western governments. Canadian car owners who could no longer afford gasoline reverted to having their vehicles pulled by horses and dubbed them Bennett Buggies. Bennett's perceived failures during the Great Depression led to the re-election of Mackenzie King's Liberals in the 1935 election.
Although the United States began to see rapid improvements as a result of FDR's policies, Canada saw far less growth. Nevertheless, by 1936 the worst of the Depression was over. Mackenzie King implemented some relief programs such as the National Housing Act and National Employment Commission, and also established the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (1936) and Trans-Canada Airlines. However, it took until 1939 and the outbreak of war for the Canadian economy to return to 1929 levels.
World War II
Main article: World War II (Central Victory)
The Canadian economy, like the economies of many other countries, improved in an unexpected way with the outbreak of the Second World War. When Stalin invaded eastern Europe on September 7, 1939, Mackenzie King was finally convinced that military action would be necessary, but was advised against getting involved with European problems. However many Canadians volunteered for service in French, British, and later American armed forces. Ultimately, more than one million Canadians served in the war. Canada also gave supplies and food to Allied armies throughout the war.
Women began to play a more significant part in war efforts. Women performed a number of other roles in clerical, administrative, and communications divisions. A total of 45,423 women enlisted during the course of the war, and one in nine served overseas.
With over a million Canadians serving in the Armed Forces during the war, enormous new employment opportunities appeared for women in workplaces previously unknown to them. To encourage women to work in factories, machine shops, and other heavy industries, the Canadian government offered free child-care and tax breaks. Elsie MacGill, an aeronautical engineer who supervised the production of Hawker Hurricane aircraft for the Canada Car and Foundry Company became a celebrated war hero known as "Queen of the Hurricanes."