Today’s Canada was first populated by people who immigrated from Asia some 30,000 years ago. It was not until the 17th century that the French established the first European colonies in the area, and were long the site of rivalry between France and the United Kingdom, especially because of the great natural riches, primarily fur.
Canada became a British colony from 1763, then dominion, with extensive independence from 1931. But the country did not gain complete independence until 1982, when a new constitution also gave recognition and rights to the country’s three indigenous peoples. French-minded Canadians, especially in the province of Quebec, have long fought for self-government and independence. A referendum on independence in 1995 ended with a huge loss for separatists. In the 1990s, the country’s Arctic indigenous people, the Inuit, gained extensive autonomy in the vast Nunavut area, and in 1999 Nunavut became separated as their own territory. The other indigenous peoples also achieved increased self-sufficiency in the 1990s, which in Canada are called ‘ First Nations ‘.
Politically, modern Canada has been ruled alternately by one of the two major parties in the country, the Liberals and the Conservatives. After a long, liberal reign, the highly conservative Stephen Harper took over as prime minister in 2006, bringing the country closer to the United States in foreign policy. In 2015, they made the liberal comeback with Justin Trudeau as prime minister.
Canada’s first population
The first people came to today’s Canada via a land bridge in the Bering Strait about 30,000 years ago. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Canada. Ancestors of the Inuit and American Indigenous people later spread in the northern areas before colonization from Western Europe began in the early 1600s.
Canada as French Colony (1603–1763)
The Norse discoveries around the year 1000 (see Vinland) had no consequences in the form of permanent settlement. Nor did Giovanni Caboto’s (John Cabots) travel here on behalf of English interests in 1497 lead to colonization. A colonization attempt on the Saint Lawrence River in 1540–1542 under the leadership of Frenchman Jacques Cartier also failed.
Only in 1604 did Samuel de Champlain and some others succeed in starting the first permanent French colonization in North America at Port Royal (now Annapolis, Nova Scotia). Champlain had been appointed governor of New France – Nouvelle France – (1603-1624) the year before. In 1608, the colony received its main support point at the construction of Québec.
In 1627, the colonial leadership was transferred to a newly established trading company. In 1663, the colony came directly under the French crown, albeit with its own governing bodies, by model of the provinces of France. The following year, the West Indies Trading Company was established to trade with West Africa and the American continent; it was left to monopoly on the Canadian trade (substantial fur), but had to see the privileges abolished by King Louis 14 all in 1674.
In 1660 there were still only about 2,000 inhabitants in New France, but five years later 2000 new emigrants were sent to the colony. At this time also began a more large-scale exploration of the interior of the continent. This was closely related to the fur trade. In 1666, a French outpost was established at Lake Superior. In 1678, René Robert Cavelier la Salle left Quebec and arrived in the Gulf of Mexico four years later; here he proclaimed the entire Mississippi Valley as French property and named it Louisiana after Louis (Louis) 14. Thus the French dominated the interior of the continent.
But France’s position in Canada and the west of the American colonies was not unshaken. Apart from the indigenous population, it was the British who posed the greatest threat. England had founded the Hudson Bay Company in 1670 and came into direct rivalry with French trade interests. Earlier in the century there had been a bloody clash between British and French colonists in Canada. With minor interruptions, clashes continued in the 18th century, increasingly in the interior of the continent.
By the time of the peace in Utrecht in 1713, France had also had to relinquish the Hudson Bay areas, most of the eastern peninsula Acadia and Newfoundlandto the UK. The decision came with the Seven Years’ War (in America known as’ the Franco-Native American War ‘) in 1755-1763. At the Paris peace in 1763, France surrendered to the British throughout Canada and the French Acadia. Thus, while the era of French supremacy was over, the French element of Canada’s life and history came to be both lasting and strong. But the immediate impact was that Canada changed from being an active commercial community to becoming a more traditional, religious peasant community. An important contributing factor to this was that the French military elite, which had held a central position in New France, was now losing its position.
- Countryaah: Check to see the location of Canada on the world map. Also covers major mountains, rivers and lakes in Canada.
Canada as British Colony (1763-1867)
The American War of Independence (1776-1783) had an impact on the situation in Canada in two ways. First, the Americans invaded Canada in the hope of a federal ally. In the winter of 1775–1776, they took Montreal and besieged Quebec, but without winning with their wishes. Second, Canada was flooded by the estimated 40,000 loyalists who, in continued allegiance to the British crown, fled the United States.
Partly as a result of turmoil and conflict linked to the Loyalist immigration, in 1791 it became necessary to divide Canada into two provinces with extensive self-government: Lower Canada (Quebec) (French and Catholic) and Upper Canada (British and Protestant). The latter was far less populous. By this division, the British King and his advisers had tried to strike a balance between the British and French people, but had overlooked that the English bourgeoisie (and the leaders of the English-speaking population) also lived in the cities of Lower Canada. Therefore, there was widespread dissatisfaction with London’s decision.
Poor administration led to an uprising in the Quebec area in 1837, and in 1840 the provinces were united again under a joint general governor and parliament.
Canada as British Dominion (1867-1931)
In 1867, the Dominion of Canada was formed. There were many reasons for this. Externally, the situation in the United States affected in several ways. The United States had become a transcontinental nation in rapid growth from the Atlantic to the Pacific. At the same time, the Civil War in the United States (1861-1865) showed how dangerous a struggle between different regions could be. Relations with the United Kingdom were also getting strained.
An internal cause was the population growth and the need for larger land areas. The population had risen sharply in the mid-1800s, and growth was particularly evident among people of British origin. The former French majority had now become a minority. The expansion could ease the pressure on both of them. But at the same time, it was impossible to overlook that population growth in Canada West (a new term especially since 1840) would further strengthen the English-speaking section of the population at the expense of the French Canada East. This was not least emphasized by the fact that the already populous Canada West demanded political representation based on the population. Canada East, the former majority,
Canada’s parties now hoped that a solution such as a Confederacy (not a US pattern union), or more precisely as British domination, could unite Canadians and prevent regional and further Franco-British conflict. This was to be achieved by giving the new dominion considerable self-government to Eastern Canada and Northwest Canada. However, it soon became apparent that the new common donor, which lay in the creation of a new form of state, would give way to regional and provincial interests. Not least, the Québec area came to insist on retaining control of the French Canadians and their interests.
The new Confederation, established in 1867, consisted of four provinces: Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In 1869 Canada acquired the vast lands from Hudson Bay to the Rocky Mountains from the Hudson Bay Company, and two years after that, British Columbia joined the union. Other areas followed (Manitoba in 1870, Prince Edward Island in 1873, Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905, Newfoundland in 1949; in 1878, the British government transferred to Canada other parts of British North America).
The Canadian Pacific Railroad was completed in 1885 and opened the prairie for immigration and agriculture. Of two rebellions of the Métis population in northwestern Canada (the “northwest uprisings ” in 1869 and 1885, both led by Louis Riel), the latter was partly provoked by the railroad construction. Both were knocked down quickly.
Canada borrowed its party names from the United Kingdom. The Conservatives studied Disraeli’s political ideas, while the Liberals were inspired by Gladstone. But the Canadian parties had more in common with the US south of the border. The Conservatives were (like the United States Republicans) for a high level of protection in favor of Canada’s industry, while the Liberals (like the Democrats) called for expanded local self-government. This was in turn linked to the fact that the liberals to a large extent represented the often poor French-Canadians and the Catholic population, around the third of the population. The Conservatives, for their part, were often English-speaking Protestants loyal to the British royal house.
The strength of the relationship between Catholic and Protestant Canadians was not significantly shifted despite the total population rising from around two million in 1850 to quadruple in 1911. This was partly because the French Canadians were childish, but also that Canada was open to immigrants, among others. from the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic regions of Europe. The Liberals ruled until 1879, when they were replaced by a conservative government that erected high tariff walls.
From 1899 to 1911 the liberals ruled again; during this period immigration reached its maximum. But fears of US imperialism led the Conservatives (traditionally skeptical of the US) to come back to power and prevented US-Canada tariff relief. One reason for the Liberals’ fall was also that Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier had a marked Catholic/Nationalist flow to counteract the Quebec area. The French Canadians did not let their nationalism move in the direction of either France or the United States, but instead chose isolationism.
Robert Laird Borden’s Conservative government supported the British warfare during the First World War, including the introduction of compulsory military service in 1917. Mackenzie King’s Liberal government ruled in 1921-1930 as the country made great economic progress through increasing exports and hydropower development. But the post-1929 international depression also hit Canada hard, and opposition conservatives took over the government in 1930 under the leadership of Richard Bennett.
By 1926, King had undergone a revision of Canada’s dominion status. In 1930, at the Great Commonwealth Conference in Westminster, it was established that dominions were independent nations, but with the reservation that important constitutional changes could still only be implemented by the British Parliament.
In 1934, Prime Minister Richard Bedford Bennett initiated a reform policy with some commonalities with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ” New Deal.” The customs walls were still high, but the Conservative government was willing to regulate business and industry. However, the chance did not come, for the Liberals under William Lyon Mackenzie King in the 1935 election began what would prove to be a period of political dominance until 1957.
The difference between the two major parties was relatively small, especially in foreign policy. Domestically, the liberals based their strength on the industrial workers and the church in the east and a large part of the peasants in the west. Other parties, especially a “social credit party” and a semi-socialist cooperative party, stood strong in the West and Midwest.
Canada joined World War II on September 10, 1939. Both during the war and afterwards, cooperation with the United States was close, a point that conservatives and liberals considered differently. The Conservatives played after the war on their and others’ fears of an overly strong American influence and partly won back government power with John Diefenbaker as prime minister. Relations with the United States should also topple Diefenbaker’s government as the three official opposition parties gathered on a motion of no confidence because the Conservatives refused to accept US nuclear explosives for the Canadian defense.
In the 1963 election, the Liberal Party won a big victory. Liberal leader Lester Pearson formed a government at a time when Canada was in a serious financial crisis, and relations with the United Kingdom and the United States were poor. The Canadian dollar had been devalued in the summer of 1962, and the country received extensive credits from the United States, the United Kingdom and the International Monetary Fund. The government was severely criticized just before the autumn 1965 elections because of a legal scandal, but the Conservative Party also struggled with great internal contradictions.
The election brought no improvement to the ruling party, which gained 131 out of 265 seats in parliament, while the Conservatives gained 98. The progressive reform party, the new Democrats, made the most progress. Canada’s new flag was officially put into operation in February 1965. The government embarked on a very comprehensive social and economic reform program.
The relationship between the two language groups created considerable tension in the mid-1960s, and this turmoil was further highlighted during President Charles de Gaulle’s visit to Quebec in the summer of 1967 in celebration of Canada’s 100th anniversary. The government was heavily criticized for its economic policies. Pearson resigned in April 1968 as leader of the Liberal Party and as prime minister; in both positions followed former Justice Minister Pierre Trudeau, who made a new election. With these, the ruling party achieved a pure majority in the lower house.
Quebec nationalism stayed alive; in 1970, a British diplomat was abducted, and Quebec Labor Minister Pierre Laporte abducted and assassinated by extreme separatists.
The fight to keep Canada together
Since the mid-1970s, separatism has been a dominant political battle theme in Canada. In 1976, the Independence Party gained Parti Québécois government power in Québec under René Lévesque. In 1977, the province introduced French as the official language of teaching, business and government. The separatist tendencies were temporarily weakened after 1980, when the state government did not get a majority to start negotiations on independence.
In 1982, a constitutional reform led to Canada obtaining full formal independence from the United Kingdom. The reform faced considerable opposition, including from the provinces, which feared a strong centralization of the decision-making process. But only Quebec’s government was against when the final decision was made. The “patriation” of the Constitution was approved by the British Parliament in 1982, and the Constitution of 1867 was incorporated into the new Constitution Act.
After Canada now had the opportunity to amend the Constitution itself, the Trudeau government decided that Canada should officially be bilingual. Quebec nevertheless wanted to be recognized as a “distinct society”. In a 1987 union agreement (Meech Lake Accord), the provincial leaders agreed to five constitutional amendments to meet Quebec’s demands, but the regional assemblies objected and Canadian indigenous communities protested. If Quebec was to have special status, why shouldn’t Canada’s native residents have the same? In the summer of 1991, indigenous people, known as ‘First Nations’, were promised self-government. The Meech Lake agreement was replaced by a new constitutional amendment agreement (the Charlottetown Agreement). But when it was put to a referendum in 1992, it was voted down.
In the 1993 general elections, the separatist Bloc Québécois became Canada’s second largest party, and after the 1994 state elections, the province initiated a process of detachment. A referendum on independence for Québec in the fall of 1995 ended with a practically dead run. The separatists received 49.6 percent of the vote. The voting result, with only 52,000 votes out of 4.67 million cast, showed a clear majority for detachment among the French speakers, while the majority was secured by the English speakers and indigenous people.
Separatist leader Lucien Bouchard became new prime minister in Quebec in 1996. In 1997, the heads of government in the nine other Canadian provinces came with a call for Canadian unity. In 1998, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that if a new referendum were to provide a majority for detachment, the implementation could only happen with the consent of the federal government. The government, for its part, has an obligation to negotiate with the separatists. However, around the turn of the century, the separatist movement experienced a decline. At the provincial elections in Québec in 2003, the party that has declared a secession lost after nine years in power and a period of internal strife. The election winner became the Liberal Government Party.
Canada’s large indigenous people were guaranteed their rights in the Constitution of 1982. In the early 1990s, there were several clashes between the authorities and militant indigenous peoples and Inuit people. In 1991, the government set up a commission to assess the indigenous people’s claim to land. The requirements go all the way back to the creation of Canada in 1867. The Inuits have also signed agreements with the authorities. In 1991, an agreement was signed that secured the Inuit autonomy in an area of two million square miles or 20 percent of Canada’s area. The area is called Nunavut, and in 1999 was separated as a separate territory from the Northwest Territories. About 17,500 Inuit people live in Nunavut, which extends from the Manitoba border and almost to the North Pole.
In 2003, the indigenous people of the Tlicho area in the far north-west of the country, formerly Dogrib, also gained expanded autonomy. This implies increased right of access to natural resources and greater responsibility for health and education.
Political development from the 1980s to 2005
The general economic downturn in the West also prevailed in Canada. In 1983, the unemployment rate was 12.4 percent. At the same time, the Canadian dollar weakened against the US dollar. One of the causes of the economic problems was the strong dependence on the United States. One of the measures the Canadian government implemented was therefore to increase trade with other countries.
In the 1984 elections, the Conservatives came to power under the leadership of Brian Mulroney, a right-turn not unlike the one seen in the United States in 1980. Mulroney also won the election in 1988, but the Conservative party declined sharply. The decline was due to a particularly strong dispute over a free trade agreement with the United States. The agreement, which Mulroney strongly advocated, would remove all tariff barriers between the two countries by the turn of the millennium, ease investment conditions and liberalize allowance regulations for almost all goods. The Canadian opposition called the deal a blow to Canada’s sovereignty and integrity. During major protests, the Free Trade Agreement was approved by Parliament in 1989.
The economic and political problems intensified in the 1990s. In 1993, Mulroney’s popularity reached a bottom level, and he resigned as prime minister in favor of Kim Campbell. But the shift came too late; In the same year’s elections, the Conservatives were virtually wiped out by Canadian politics, and left with two seats in the National Assembly. The Liberals won 177 seats and formed government under the leadership of Jean Chrétien. He was renewed for office in the 1997 elections by a marginal margin.
Chrétien was re-elected for the third time in 2000, when parliamentary elections were held two years before the end of the period. The successor of the reform party, the new right-wing Canadian Alliance, took over a fifth of the mandates, thus contributing to a new setback for the Conservative party. The separatist Bloc Québécois also declined. Chrétien and the ruling party’s strong position must be seen against the backdrop of a sharp upswing in the Canadian economy towards the end of the 1990s; By the turn of the century, unemployment had fallen to less than seven percent. Chrétien left the prime minister’s post to his party mate Paul Martin in 2003, after ten years in power. A stated goal for Martin was to improve relations with the United States.
In the 2004 election, the Liberal Party lost its pure majority, but retained government power based on a support agreement with Bloc Québécois and the leftist New Democratic Party. The newly formed Conservative Party of Canada’s Conservative Party of Canada made significant progress, with 99 of the Parliament’s 308 seats.
Same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada in 2005.
Foreign policy, Canada has increasingly chosen a different course from its major neighboring United States. Canada has been criticized by the US for its low defense budget, it did not support the trade blockade of Cuba, nor participated in the 2003 US-led Iraq war. A more liberal drug law and immigration policy have also led to spills. By the turn of the century, the goal was to increase immigration by 4.4 percent annually to boost the economy. Over 10 percent of the country’s population now consisted of immigrants who had come over the last 20 years, most from China, India and Pakistan, without leading to greater contradictions in society.
An important contribution to economic growth is also the regional free trade agreement NAFTA, although trade has also created conflicts related to tax and subsidy policy. Canada has vast natural resources, is one of the richest in the world and participates as a member of the G8 summits.
Canada after 2005
The Conservative Party won a new election in January 2006, and Stephen Harper replaced Paul Martin as Prime Minister after 12 years of Liberal rule. However, the Conservatives received only 124 of the National Assembly’s 308 seats, the Liberals 103, Bloc Québécois 51 and the Social Democratic New Democratic Party 29 seats. The re-election was the backdrop of a corruption scandal from the late 1990s that led Martin’s government to fall into a mistrust proposal in the fall of 2005, as the first in the country’s history.
The Harper government’s program included tax cuts, tightened crime fighting, and defense spending more in line with US signals to Canada during the Bush administration. With hardly a majority, it was decided to increase the military engagement in Afghanistan to 2,500 men. The government later extended its mandate to extend the mandate from 2009 to 2011 and, following the loss of over 100 soldiers, also put pressure on other NATO countries to increase their contribution to the ISAF force. With a view to bringing the Conservatives to a pure majority, Harper wrote new elections again in October 2008.
However, an increase of 16 seats was not enough. Later in the fall, the financial crisis triggered a political crisis in which the government had to turn away from a motion of no confidence from a united opposition. At this time, unemployment increased by 100,000 a month, the interest rate was reduced to 1.5 percent, the lowest in 50 years, and a bank package was promoted to around NOK 130 billion. The government saved itself with a package of measures – with tax relief, grants for road construction and a program for environmentally friendly energy – which was adopted together with the state budget in February 2009.
Tradition believes Canada was the first country Barack Obama visited after the inauguration as US President, with a plan to strengthen cooperation between the two countries, with particular emphasis on energy, trade and economic recovery in Afghanistan.
In the autumn of 2006, the National Assembly made a surprising, but in practice symbolic, change of French-speaking Quebec’s status from province to “nation” – with the addition “within a unified Canada”. At the March local elections, The Action Democratic Party won an overwhelming victory in Quebec; the party is committed to expanding self-government within the framework of the Canadian Federation. Both the local government party The Liberal Party and the separatist movement were significantly weakened.
As a result of climate change, with increasingly visible impacts in permafrost and polar ice, Arctic issues have gained a place in Canadian politics. The country had until 2013 to document its offshore territorial requirements in areas that, according to research reports, can hide ¼ of the world’s oil and gas reserves. The requirements also include a navigable Northwest Passage, and Canada has increased its military presence in the areas.
In November 2015, Justin Trudeau took over as Prime Minister of Canada.