Have we read our own authors such as Dionne Brand, Afua Cooper and George Elliott Clarke? Do we know that the story of African-Canadians spans four hundred years, and includes slavery, abolition, pioneering, urban growth, segregation, the civil rights movement and a long engagement in civic life? — Lawrence Hill
France was a colonial power in North America from the early 16th century, the age of European discoveries and fishing expeditions, to the early 19th century, when Napoléon Bonaparte sold Louisiana to the United States. French presence in North America was marked by economic exchanges with Indigenous peoples, but also by conflicts, as the French attempted to control this vast territory. The French colonial enterprise was also spurred by religious motivation as well as the desire to establish an effective colony in the St. Lawrence Valley. From the founding of Québec in 1608 to the ceding of Canada to Britain in 1763, France placed its stamp upon the history of the continent, much of whose lands — including Acadia — lay under its control. Through the use of encyclopedic articles, biographies, exhibits, study guides and searchable timelines, this collection features content related to this history.
The National Flag of Canada, also known as the Canadian Flag or the Maple Leaf Flag (l'Unifolié in French), consists of a red field with a white square at its centre atop of which sits a stylized, 11-pointed red maple leaf. A joint committee of the Senate and House of Commons voted for the present flag in 1964 against formidable odds. After months of debate, the final design, adopted by Parliament and approved by royal proclamation, became Canada's flag on 15 February 1965.
The Prairies, or the Plains, is a vast region of the “western interior” of Canada that is bounded roughly by Lake Superior and the Rocky Mountains, the forty-ninth parallel and the low Arctic. It was peopled in six great waves of immigration, spanning from prehistory to the present. The migration from Asia, about 13,300 years ago, produced an Indigenous population of 20,000 to 50,000 by about 1640. Several thousand European and Canadian fur traders, followed by several hundred British immigrants, arrived between 1640 and 1840, creating dozens of small outposts and a European-style settlement in the Red River Colony, where the Métis became the largest single component of the population. The third wave, from the 1840s to the 1890s, consisted chiefly but not solely of Canadians of British heritage. The fourth and by far the largest was drawn from many nations, mostly European, and occurred from 1897 to 1929, with a pause (1914–22) during and after the First World War. The fifth wave, drawn from other Canadian provinces and from Europe and elsewhere, commenced in the late 1940s and lasted through the 1960s. The sixth wave, beginning in the 1970s, drew especially upon peoples of the southern hemisphere, and has continued, with fluctuations, to the present. Throughout the last century, the region has also steadily lost residents, as a result of migration to other parts of Canada, to the United States, and elsewhere.
The American Civil War (1861–65) was fought between the northern (Union) states and the southern (Confederate) states, which withdrew from the United States in 1860–61. The war left cities in ruins, shattered families and took the lives of an estimated 750,000 Americans. The war also involved those living in what is now Canada, including roughly 40,000 who joined the fight. The war played a significant role in how and when Canada became an independent country.
Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, between His Britannick Majesty; and the United States of America, by their President, with the Advice and Consent of their Senate, more commonly known as Jay’s Treaty or the Jay Treaty, signed 19 November 1794 in London, is a treaty between the United States and Britain.
Sod houses, or “soddies,” were a common style of dwelling built in the Prairies during the second half of the 19th century. Soddies were small structures cheaply built out of blocks of sod and rudimentary house fittings. Sod refers to grass and the soil beneath it that is held together by the grass’s roots. Although the term “sod house” is primarily associated with Canadian and American structures built during westward expansion, the structures found their architectural roots in Indigenous and Norse practices. Sod houses have come to symbolize the hardship of homestead life, despite shacks and log cabins being the primary form of housing.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was enacted by the United States Congress on 18 September 1850. It extended the reach of the institution of slavery into the free Northern states, stating that refugees from enslavement living there could be returned to enslavement in the South once captured. The Act led thousands of freedom-seekers to take refuge in Canada. It was repealed 28 June 1864.
Treaty 4 — also known as the Qu'Appelle Treaty — was signed on 15 September 1874 at Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan. The Indigenous signatories include the Cree, Saulteaux bands of the Ojibwa peoples and the Assiniboine. In exchange for payments, provisions and rights to reserve lands, Treaty 4 ceded Indigenous territory to the federal government. The majority of Treaty 4 lands are in present-day southern Saskatchewan. Small portions are in western Manitoba and southern Alberta.
The Manitoba Act of 1870 provided for the admission of Manitoba as Canada's fifth province. It marked the legal resolution of the struggle for self-determination between people of the Red River Colony and the federal government, that began with the purchase of Rupert’s Land by Canada. The Act contained protections for the region’s Métis. However, these protections were not fully realized, resulting in many Métis leaving the province for the North-West Territories.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge, during the First World War, is Canada's most celebrated military victory — an often mythologized symbol of the birth of Canadian national pride and awareness. The four divisions of the Canadian Corps, fighting together for the first time, attacked the ridge from 9 to 12 April, 1917 and captured it from the German army. It was the largest territorial advance of any Allied force to that point in the war – but it would mean little to the outcome of the conflict. More than 10,500 Canadians were killed and wounded in the assault. Today an iconic white memorial atop the ridge honours the 11,285 Canadians killed in France throughout the war who have no known graves.4
The Canadian worker has been a neglected figure in Canadian history. Workers have contributed in many ways to the development of Canadian society, but the history of working people — their families, communities and work places — has only gradually become part of our view of the past and an important component of understanding how we came to occupy our present.
Up until the second half of the 19th century, most rural teachers in Canada were young, female, poorly paid, and held the most limited professional qualifications. These teachers delivered a rudimentary education to thousands of Canada’s rural children, often amidst difficult conditions. Indeed, until the 1960s, rural teachers frequently taught students of various ages and wide-ranging academic abilities together in one-room schoolhouses while also shouldering the burden of maintaining the schools themselves.
Canadians of Caribbean origin belong to one of the largest non-European ethnic groups in Canada. A group of 556 Jamaicans arrived in Canada in 1796 after an unsuccessful British attempt to enslave them in Jamaica (see Black Canadians), but early contact between Canada and West Indians were few.
The Battle of the Plains of Abraham (13 September 1759) was a pivotal moment in the Seven Years’ War and in the history of Canada. A British invasion force led by General James Wolfe defeated French troops under the Marquis de Montcalm, leading to the surrender of Québec to the British.