Portal:History of Canada

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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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TransCanada pipeline
The history of the petroleum industry in Canada arose in parallel with that of the United States. Because of Canada's unique geography, geology, resources and patterns of settlement, however, it developed in different ways. The evolution of the petroleum sector has been a key factor in the history of Canada, and helps illustrate how the country became quite distinct from her neighbour to the south.

Although the conventional oil and gas industry in western Canada is mature, the country's Arctic and offshore petroleum resources are mostly in early stages of exploration and development. Canada became a natural gas-producing giant in the late 1950s and is second, after Russia, in exports; the country also is home to the world's largest natural gas liquids extraction facilities. The industry started constructing its vast pipeline networks in the 1950s, thus beginning to develop domestic and international markets in a big way. Despite billions of dollars of investment, her bitumen - especially within the Athabasca oil sands - is still only a partially exploited resource. By 2025 this and other unconventional oil resources - the northern and offshore frontiers and heavy crude oil resources in the West - could place Canada in the top ranks among the world's oil producing and exporting nations. In a 2004 reassessment of global resources, America's EIA put Canadian oil reserves second; only Saudi Arabia has greater proved reserves.

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Halifax Explosion blast cloud restored.jpg
The Halifax Explosion occurred on Thursday, December 6, 1917, when the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, was devastated by the huge detonation of the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship, fully loaded with wartime explosives, which accidentally collided with the Norwegian SS Imo in "The Narrows" section of the Halifax Harbour. About 2,000 people were killed by debris, fires, or collapsed buildings and it is estimated that over 9,000 people were injured. This is still the world's largest man-made accidental explosion.

At 8:40 in the morning, the SS Mont-Blanc, chartered by the French government to carry munitions to Europe, collided with the unloaded Norwegian ship Imo, chartered by the Commission for Relief in Belgium to carry relief supplies. Mont-Blanc caught fire ten minutes after the collision and exploded about twenty-five minutes later (at 9:04:35 AM). All buildings and structures covering nearly 2 square kilometres (500 acres) along the adjacent shore were obliterated, including those in the neighbouring communities of Richmond and Dartmouth. The explosion caused a tsunami in the harbour and a pressure wave of air that snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, grounded vessels, and carried fragments of the Mont-Blanc for kilometres.

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

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Niagara Falls from Clifton Hotel, Niagara Falls 1912.JPG
Niagara Falls from Clifton Hotel, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Can, 1912

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