On 17 May 1642, a group of French settlers led by Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance established the missionary colony of Ville-Marie on the Island of Montréal. Today, this modest settlement founded in the middle of the St. Lawrence River is Canada’s second largest city and home to nearly half of the province of Québec’s population. A centre of francophone culture in North America, Montréal also enjoys international renown. Through exhibits, images and articles — as well as several Heritage Minutes about influential Montrealers — this collection celebrates the 375-year heritage and history of this important cultural and economic centre.
Nunavut, or “Our Land” in Inuktitut, encompasses over 2 million km2 and has a population of 35,944 residents (2016 census), approximately 85 per cent of whom are Inuit. Covering roughly the part of the Canadian mainland and Arctic Archipelago that lies to the north and northeast of the treeline, Nunavut is the largest and northernmost territory of Canada and the fifth largest administrative division in the world. Nunavummiut live in 25 communities spread across this vast territory, with the largest number, 7,740 (2016 census), in the capital, Iqaluit. The creation of Nunavut in 1999 (the region was previously part of the Northwest Territories) represented the first major change to the political map of Canada since the incorporation of Newfoundland into Confederation in 1949. Beyond changing the internal political boundaries of Canada, Nunavut’s formation represented a moment of great political significance; through political activism and long-term negotiations, a small, marginalized Indigenous group overcame many obstacles to peacefully establish a government that they controlled within the Canadian state, thereby gaining control of their land, their resources and their future. As such, the creation of Nunavut represents a landmark moment in the evolution of Canada and a significant development in the history of the world’s Indigenous peoples.
Vancouver, British Columbia, incorporated as a city in 1886, population 631,486 (2016c), 603,502 (2011c). Vancouver is the largest city in British Columbia and the third largest census metropolitan area in Canada. The City of Vancouver lies on a peninsula in the southwest corner of the province's mainland. Two surrounding waterways — Burrard Inlet and the Strait of Georgia — provide a sheltered deep-sea port and convenient access to the Pacific Ocean, while the Fraser River offers an easy route to the rich agricultural lands of the Fraser River Lowland and the interior. Railways and highways give easy access to the interior.
Fort McMurray, Alberta, unincorporated population centre, population 61,374 (2011 c), 47,705 (2006 c). Fort McMurray is the largest community in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB). It is technically known as the municipality’s “Urban Service Area” and colloquially known as “Fort Mac.” The community is located near the confluence of the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers in northeastern Alberta, near the centre of the vast Athabasca oil sands deposit. Originally incorporated as a city in 1980, in 1995 Fort McMurray merged with much of the surrounding area — collectively known as Improvement District No. 143 — to create the RMWB. At 63,783 km2, the municipality is the largest in North America in terms of size, accounting for nearly 10 per cent of the province’s total area. In May 2016, Fort McMurray experienced one of the worst forest fires in Canadian history. More than 80,000 residents were evacuated and approximately 2,400 structures — about 10 per cent of the city — were destroyed.
Pouce Coupe, British Columbia, incorporated as a village in 1932, population 792 (2016 census), 738 (2011 census). The village of Pouce Coupe is located 6 km southeast of Dawson Creek on the highway and freight railway between there and Grande Prairie, Alberta. Its name likely comes from that of a Dane-zaa chief, Pooscapee, which early voyageurs rendered into the French name Pouce Coupé (Cut Thumb).
British Columbia is Canada's most westerly province, and is a mountainous area whose population is mainly clustered in its southwestern corner. BC is Canada’s third-largest province after Québec and Ontario, making up 10 per cent of Canada’s land surface. British Columbia is a land of diversity and contrast within small areas. Coastal landscapes, characterized by high, snow-covered mountains rising above narrow fjords and inlets, contrast with the broad forested upland of the central interior and the plains of the northeast. The intense "Britishness" of earlier times is referred to in the province's name, which originated with Queen Victoria and was officially proclaimed in 1858.1
Africville was an African-Canadian village located just north of Halifax and founded in the mid-18th century. The City of Halifax demolished the once-prosperous seaside community in the 1960s in what many said was an act of racism. The mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality apologized for the action in 2010. For many people, Africville represents the oppression faced by Black Canadians, and the efforts to right historic wrongs.1
Toronto, Ontario, incorporated as a city in 1834, population 2,731,571 (2016 c), 2,615,060 (2011 c). As Ontario's capital city, Toronto has a vibrant history of change and growth, ranging from its early occupation over 1,000 years ago to its current status as North America’s fourth largest city. Toronto is Canada's largest municipality and is made up of the former cities of Toronto, North York, Scarborough, York and Etobicoke, and the former borough of East York. The city is home to a large immigrant population, and is a national and international hub for finance, communications and cultural life.2
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, incorporated as a city in 1903, population 32,724 (2016 census), 32,546 (2011 census). The city of Moose Jaw is located 160 km north of the US border and 65 km west of Regina in a sheltered valley at the confluence of the Moose Jaw River and Thunder Creek. It is governed by a mayor and six councillors who are elected to represent the city as a whole. The city’s evocative name is likely based on Indigenous sources and was perhaps first applied to a local creek that supposedly resembled the outline of a moose’s jawbone; another explanation is that it comes from a Cree word for “warm breezes.”
Montreal, Quebec, incorporated as a city in 1832, population 1,704,694 (2016 c), 1,649,519 (2011 c). Montreal is Canada’s second largest city and is home to nearly half of the province of Quebec’s population. It is the metropolis of the province and was the most populous city in Canada for a century and a half. It is located in southwestern Quebec on Île de Montreal at the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers. Montreal is a major industrial centre, commercial and financial metropolis, railway and maritime bridgehead, and one of the centres of francophone culture in North America. It is one of the world's great cities and enjoys international acclaim.
Gastown is a retail and commercial district in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is bounded by Cordova Street and the waterfront between Richards Street and Main Street. The original Gastown settlement formed the nucleus for the City of Vancouver and is now a National Historic Site. Today, Gastown is a popular tourist destination and home to restaurants, gift shops, boutiques, galleries, nightclubs and bars. It is also part of the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver’s lowest-income neighbourhood, and the location of single resident occupancy hotels, social housing and social services.
Stirling, Alberta, incorporated in 1901, population 978 (2016 census), 1,090 (2011 census), area 2.71 km2. The Village of Stirling is located in the County of Warner, approximately 30 km southeast of Lethbridge on Highway 4 and 70 km north of the United States border. Stirling is significant as a national historic site and is Canada’s best-preserved example of a Mormon agricultural village.
Nova Scotia is Canada’s second-smallest province (following Prince Edward Island) and is located on the southeastern coast of the country. The province includes Cape Breton, a large island northeast of the mainland. The name Nova Scotia is Latin for “New Scotland,” reflecting the origins of some of the early settlers. Given its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Nova Scotia’s economy is largely influenced by the sea, and its harbours have served as military bases during many wars.1
Guelph, Ontario, was typical of small Canadian cities during the First World War. Of its population of about 16,000, more than a third, 5,610, volunteered for military service; 3,328 were accepted. Today, 216 of their names are engraved on the city’s cenotaph. While Guelphites served overseas, the war had a profound and lasting effect on their hometown — an experience that provides an insight into wartime Canada.
Vaughan, ON, incorporated as a city in 1991, population 306,233 (2016 c), 288,301 (2011 c). The City of Vaughan — which includes the five constituent communities of Maple, Kleinburg, Concord, Woodbridge and part of Thornhill — is located in the York regional municipality, next to the northwest boundary of metropolitan Toronto. The city traces its name to Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, who, in 1792, named the then township after British diplomat Benjamin Vaughan, a co-negotiator of the 1783 Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolutionary War. Traditionally an agricultural and milling community, Vaughan’s economy diversified over the latter half of the 20th century as immigration increased and the township developed into a city. Today, Vaughan is a multicultural community with a growing metropolitan core.