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Portal:History of Canada

The History of Canada Portal
This is a sister portal of the Canada Portal

Introduction

The history of Canada covers the period from the arrival of Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago to the present day. Prior to European colonization, the lands encompassing present-day Canada were inhabited for millennia by Indigenous peoples, with distinct trade networks, spiritual beliefs, and styles of social organization. Some of these older civilizations had long faded by the time of the first European arrivals and have been discovered through archaeological investigations.

Starting in the late 15th century, French and British expeditions explored, colonized, and fought over various places within North America in what constitutes present-day Canada. The colonies of Acadia and Canada (New France) were established in 1632, following the Treaty of Saint Germain-en-Laye, and was ceded to the United Kingdom following several wars in 1763 after the French defeat in the Seven Years' War. The now British Province of Quebec was divided into Upper and Lower Canada in 1791 and reunified in 1841. In 1867, the Province of Canada was joined with two other British colonies of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia through Confederation, forming a self-governing entity named Canada. The new dominion expanded by incorporating other parts of British North America, finishing with Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949.

Although responsible government had existed in Canada since 1848, Britain continued to set its foreign and defence policies until the end of the First World War. The passing of the Statute of Westminster in 1931 recognized that Canada had become co-equal with the United Kingdom. After the Constitution was patriated in 1982, the final vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament were removed. Canada currently consists of ten provinces and three territories and is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.

Over centuries, elements of Indigenous, French, British and more recent immigrant customs have combined to form a Canadian culture that has also been strongly influenced by its linguistic, geographic and economic neighbour, the United States. Since the conclusion of the Second World War, Canadians have supported multi-lateralism abroad and socioeconomic development domestically.

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King George VI and Queen Elizabeth meet with Nakoda chieftains, who display an image of the King's great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, in Calgary, 1939.
The relationship between the Canadian Crown and Aboriginal peoples of Canada stretches back to the first interactions between European colonialists and North American indigenous peoples. Over centuries of interaction, treaties were established concerning the monarch and aboriginal tribes. Canada's First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples have, like the Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand, come to generally view these agreements as being not between them and the ever-changing Cabinet, but instead with the continuous Crown of Canada, as embodied in the reigning sovereign. These agreements with the Crown of Canada are administered by Canadian Aboriginal law and overseen by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

The affiliation between the Aboriginal peoples of Canada and that country's reigning monarch is said to be a mutual one; "cooperation will be a cornerstone for partnership between Canada and First Nations, wherein Canada is the short-form reference to Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada." Governing this are the various treaties signed by aboriginal leaders and agents of the Crown, wherein aboriginal rights are defined and their sovereignty is reconciled with that of the monarch for "as long as the sun shines, grass grows and rivers flow."

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A Commemorative plaque, presented to the citizens of Bantry, Ireland by the Government of Canada for the residents' kindness and compassion to the victims of Air India Flight 182.
Air India Flight 182 was an Air India flight operating on the Montréal-London-Delhi-Bombay route. On 23 June 1985, the airplane operating on the route was blown up in midair by a bomb in Irish airspace. The incident represents the largest mass murder in modern Canadian history. The explosion and downing of the carrier occurred within an hour of the related Narita Airport Bombing.

The plane, a Boeing 747-237Bnamed Emperor Kanishka, exploded at an altitude of 31,000 feet (9,400 m) and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. While some passengers survived the initial explosion and subsequent decompression, none survived the impact. In all, 329 people perished, among them 280 Canadian nationals, mostly of Indian birth or descent, and 22 Indians.

Investigation and prosecution took almost 20 years and was the most expensive trial in Canadian history, costing nearly CAD $130 million. A special Commission found the accused perpetrators not guilty and they were released. The only person convicted of involvement in the bombing was Inderjit Singh Reyat, who pleaded guilty in 2003 to manslaughter in constructing the bomb used on Flight 182 and received a five-year sentence. The Canadian government launched a Commission of Inquiry in 2006.

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Brady-Handy John A Macdonald - cropped.jpg
Sir John Alexander Macdonald, GCB, KCMG, PC, PC (Can), (11 January 1815 – 6 June 1891) was the first Prime Minister of Canada and the dominant figure of Canadian Confederation. Macdonald's tenure in office spanned 18 years, making him the second longest serving Prime Minister of Canada. He is the only Canadian Prime Minister to win six majority governments.

He was the major proponent of a national railway, the Canadian Pacific Railway, completed in 1885, linking Canada from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. He won praise for having helped forge a nation of sprawling geographic size, with two diverse European colonial origins, numerous Aboriginal nations, and a multiplicity of cultural backgrounds and political views.

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1898 Van Pan Map.jpg

Aerial view of the city of Vancouver British Columbia 1898.

 

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Winnipeg 1907 crop.jpg
Winnipeg, photographed from top of Union Bank Building 1907

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