Portal:History of Canada

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

Introduction

History by province or territory

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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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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On June 24, 1534, French explorer Jacques Cartier planted a cross on the Gaspé Peninsula and took possession of New France in the name of King Francis I of France. On his second voyage on May 26, 1535, Cartier sailed upriver to the St. Lawrence Iroquoian villages of Stadacona, near present-day Quebec City, and Hochelaga, near present-day Montreal.

In 1541, Jean-Francois de la Roque de Roberval became lieutenant of New France and had the responsibility to build a new colony in America. It was Cartier who established the first French settlement on American soil, Charlesbourg Royal.France was disappointed after the three voyages of Cartier and did not want to invest further large sums in an adventure with such uncertain outcome. A period of disinterest in the new world on behalf of the French authorities followed. Only at the very end of the 16th century interest in these northern territories was renewed.

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Front Street in Toronto after the fire of April 19, 1904.

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Waterfront view of the damage after the Halifax Explosion of 1917.

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