The history of Canada begins with the arrival of Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago. Canada has been inhabited for millennia by Aboriginal peoples, who evolved trade, spiritual and social hierarchies systems. Some of these civilisations 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. Various laws, treaties, and legislation have been enacted between European settlers and the Indigenous populations.
Beginning in the late 15th century, French and British expeditions explored, and later settled, along the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.
Over centuries, elements of Aboriginal traditions and immigrant customs have integrated to form a Canadian culture. Canada has also been strongly influenced by that of its linguistic, geographic and economic neighbour, the United States. Since the conclusion of the Second World War, Canada has been committed to multilateralism abroad and socioeconomic development domestically. Canada currently consists of ten provinces and three territories, and is governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.
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Canadians (singular Canadian) are people who are identified with the place and country of Canada. This connection may be genetic, residential, legal, historical, cultural or ethnic. For most Canadians, several (frequently all) of those types of connections exist and are the source(s) of them being considered Canadians. Aside from the Aboriginal peoples, who according to the 2006 Canadian Census numbered 1,172,790, 3.8% of the country's total population, the majority of the population is made up of old world immigrants and their descendents. After the initial period of British and French colonization, different waves (or peaks) of immigration and settlement of non-aboriginal peoples took place over a period of almost two centuries and is currently ongoing. Elements of Aboriginal, French, British and more recent immigrant customs, languages and religions have combined to form the culture of Canada and thus a Canadian identity. Canada has also been strongly influenced by that of its linguistic, geographic and economic neighbour, the United States.
The Canadian Citizenship Act of 1946 took effect on 1 January 1947. Prior to that date, Canadians were British subjects and Canada's nationality law closely mirrored that of the United Kingdom. As Canadian independence was obtained incrementally over the course of many years since the formation of the Canadian Confederation in 1867, World War I and World War II in particular gave rise to a desire amongst Canadians to have their country recognized as a fully-fledged sovereign state with a distinct citizenship. Various legislation's since the mid 20th century represents Canadians' commitment to multilateralism and socioeconomic development.
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During the Vietnam War
, in 1969, John Lennon
and Yoko Ono
held two week-long Bed-Ins for Peace
, which were their non-violent ways of protesting wars and promoting peace. Their second Bed-In was planned to take place in New York
, but John was not allowed into the country because of his 1968 cannabis
conviction. Instead they held the event in the Bahamas
at the Sheraton Oceanus Hotel, flying there on May 24, 1969, but after spending one night in the heat, they decided to leave. Eventually, they flew to Montreal
on May 26 where they stayed in Room 1738 and 1742 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel
. During their seven day stay, they invited Timothy Leary
, Tommy Smothers
, Dick Gregory
, and Al Capp
and all but Capp sang on the peace anthem Give Peace a Chance
, recorded in the hotel room on June 1. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
conducted interviews from the hotel room.
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