"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 Constitution of Canada is the country’s governing legal framework. It defines the powers of the executive branches of government and the legislatures at both the national and provincial levels. Canada’s Constitution is not one legal document but is composed of several statutes and orders, as well as generally accepted practices known as constitutional conventions.
The Dominion Lands Act was a federal law under which lands in Western Canada were granted to individuals, colonization companies, the Hudson’s Bay Company, railway construction, municipalities and religious groups. It received royal assent on 14 April 1872. The Act set aside land for First Nations reserves. Métis lands were organized by the government outside the Dominion Lands Act, using the scrip system. The Act also set aside lands for what would become National Parks (1883). The Dominion Lands Act devised specific homestead policies to encourage settlement in the West, covering eligibility and settlers’ responsibilities, and outlined a standard measure for surveying and subdividing land. Some 1.25 million homesteads were made available over an expanse of some 80 million hectares, the largest survey grid in the world. The Act was repealed in 1930, when lands and resources were transferred from the federal government to the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. From 1870 to 1930, roughly 625,000 land patents were issued to homesteaders, and hundreds of thousands of settlers poured into the region.
The Automotive Products Trade Agreement of 1965, better known as the Canada-US Auto Pact, led to the integration of the Canadian and US auto industries in a shared North American market. While it brought great benefits to Canada, it was eventually found to be contrary to international trade rules and was cancelled in 2001. By then it had accomplished its biggest goal — an integrated North American industry with a much stronger Canadian presence.
George Brown played an instrumental role in establishing Confederation. As leader of the Clear Grits (forerunner of the Liberal Party) in Canada West, he set aside political differences and allied with his Conservative rivals John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier in 1864, with whom he pitched Confederation to the Atlantic colonies at the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences. From 3 February to 13 March 1865, politicians in the Province of Canada debated the terms of Confederation, offering some of the most compelling defences and critiques of the union of British North American colonies. In the following speech, delivered before the legislature of the Province of Canada on 8 February 1865, Brown explains his reasons for supporting Confederation.
Mathieu Da Costa (depending on the language of the documents that mention his name, also known as “Mateus Da Costa,” “Mathieu de Coste,” “Matheus de Cost” and “een Swart genamd Matheu”), interpreter (dates and places of birth and death unknown). Da Costa is one of the most fascinating and elusive figures in the early history of Canada. Historians consider him the first Black person known to have visited Canada, probably in the company of Pierre Dugua de Mons and Samuel de Champlain. But many aspects of his life remain unclear or unknown.
Contemporary observers who may not be thoroughly familiar with the history behind Canadian cultural dualism often have trouble in decoding it. Although the idea of cultural duality appears in laws, in policies on education, religion and language, and in the formulation of the fundamental rights of the provinces, its historical foundations remain hard to define.
The Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste (SSJB), founded in Montréal in 1834 by Ludger Duvernay, is the oldest patriotic association in French North America. With branches at one time located throughout the continent, it has long been engaged in fighting the linguistic and identity battles of francophones in North America. Since the 1960s, the SSJB network has played a crucial role in developing and defining contemporary Québec nationalism.
Formed at the turn of the 19th century, the Parti canadien was an alliance of French Canadian deputies in the elected Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada (Québec). First led by Pierre-Stanislas Bédard, the party used the assembly as a forum to promote its authority in the colonial government. The Parti canadien was the first political party in Canadian history.
Domestic work refers to all tasks performed within a household, specifically those related to housekeeping, child care and personal services for adults. This traditionally unpaid work may be assigned to a paid housekeeper (the term caregiver is preferred today). From the early days of New France, domestic work was also considered as a means for men and women to immigrate to the colony. In the 19th century, however, domestic service became a distinctly female occupation. From the second half of that century until the Second World War, in response to the growing need for labour in Canadian households, British emigration societies helped thousands of girls and women immigrate to Canada. In 1955, the Canadian government launched a domestic-worker recruitment program aimed at West Indian women. It wasn’t until recently, in 2014, that the government lifted the requirement that immigrant caregivers live with their employer in order to qualify for permanent residence — a requirement that put domestic workers in a vulnerable position.
Assiniboia is a name derived from the Assiniboine, an Indigenous people. The name Assiniboia applied to two political units in the 19th century. The first was a district centred on the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers — which became the site of the Red River Resistance (1869–70) — forerunner to the province of Manitoba. The second was a provisional district of the ever-changing North-West Territories (1870–1905). Two political constituencies (one federal and one Manitoban), a rural municipality (in Manitoba), and a town (in Saskatchewan) have also been called Assiniboia.
Established on 15 July 1870, the North-West Territories was the first Canadian territory. That is, the region became part of Canada, but lacked the population, economic and infrastructure resources to sustain provincial status, and thus fell under the jurisdiction of the federal government. It covered a vast area, stretching west from a disputed boundary with Labrador, and included the northern portions of present-day Québec and Ontario, across the prairies to British Columbia, and north from the 49th parallel to the Arctic Ocean. The territory was subject to numerous boundary changes before 1905, when the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta were carved out of the southwest portion of the region. In 1906, the remaining territory was renamed the Northwest Territories.