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 colony of New France was established in 1534 and was ceded to the United Kingdom 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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The constitutional history of Canada begins with the 1763 Treaty of Paris, in which France ceded most of New France to Great Britain. Canada was the colony along the St Lawrence River, part of present-day Ontario and Quebec. Its government underwent many structural changes over the following century. The British North America Act 1867 was the act that established the Dominion of Canada, by the fusion of the North American British colonies of the Province of Canada, Province of New Brunswick, Province of Nova Scotia. The former subdivisions of Canada were renamed from Canada West and Canada East to the Province of Ontario and Province of Quebec, respectively. Quebec and Ontario were given equal footing with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the Parliament of Canada. This was done to counter the claims of manifest destiny made by the United States of America, for the defense of Britain's holdings. American claims are evinced by the invasions of the Canadas during the British-American War (1812) and the British-American War (1776).Canada obtained legislative autonomy from the United Kingdom in 1931, and had its constitution (including a new rights charter) patriated in 1982. Canada's constitution includes the amalgam of constitutional law spanning this history.
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The Oka Crisis was a land dispute between the Mohawk nation and the town of Oka, Quebec, Canada which began on July 11, 1990. It lasted until September 26, 1990. One person died as a result. The dispute was the first of a number of well-publicized conflicts between First Nations and the Canadian government in the late 20th century which were associated with violence.

The crisis developed from a local dispute between the town of Oka and the Mohawk community of Kanesatake. The town of Oka was developing plans to expand a golf course and residential development onto the land which had traditionally been used by the Mohawk. It included pineland and a burial ground, marked by standing tombstones of their ancestors. The Mohawk nation had filed a land claim for the sacred grove and burial ground near Kanesatake, but their claim had been rejected in 1986.

The Oka Crisis was extensively documented and inspired numerous books and films. Canadian filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin has made documentaries about the Oka Crisis, including Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993) and Rocks at Whiskey Trench (2000). These and two additional documentaries on the crisis were all produced by the National Film Board of Canada: Christine Welsh directed Keepers of the Fire (1994), which documented the role of Mohawk women during the crisis, and Alex MacLeod created Acts of Defiance (1993).

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Lester B. Pearson with a pencil.jpg
Lester Bowles "Mike" Pearson, PC, OM, CC, OBE (23 April 1897 – 27 December 1972) was a Canadian professor, historian, civil servant, statesman, diplomat, and politician, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis. He was the 14th Prime Minister of Canada from 22 April 1963, until 20 April 1968, as the head of two back-to-back minority governments following elections in 1963 and 1965.

During his time as Prime Minister, Pearson's minority government introduced universal health care, student loans, the Canada Pension Plan, the Order of Canada, and the current Canadian flag. During his tenure, Prime Minister Pearson also convened the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. With these accomplishments, together with his groundbreaking work at the United Nations and in international diplomacy, Pearson is generally considered among the most influential Canadians of the 20th century.

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Strikers climbing on boxcars as part of the On-to-Ottawa Trek, 1935.

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

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