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History of Gender Roles in Canada

Over the course of several thousand years, gender roles in Canada have shifted dramatically. In general, they were more flexible in Indigenous societies and more rigid in settler communities. However, even in colonial times, gender roles were not as narrow as might be expected, particularly on farms and in frontier communities. Gender roles became stricter during the Victorian era, when men and women were relegated to “separate spheres.” Gender roles became more elastic during the world wars, but traditional gender norms were re-established in the 1950s. Since the 1960s, though, gender roles have become more flexible.

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Prime Minister of Canada

The prime minister (PM) is the head of the federal government. It is the most powerful position in Canadian politics. Prime ministers are not specifically elected to the position; instead, the PM is typically the leader of the party that has the most seats in the House of Commons. The prime minister controls the governing party and speaks for it; names senators and senior judges for appointment; and appoints and dismisses all members of Cabinet. As chair of Cabinet, the PM controls its agenda and greatly influences the activities and priorities of Parliament. In recent years, a debate has emerged about the growing power of prime ministers, and whether this threatens other democratic institutions.

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Treaty of Paris 1763

The Treaty of Paris was signed on 19 February 1763 and ended the Seven Years’ War between France, Britain and Spain. It marked the end of the war in North America and created the basis for the modern country of Canada. France formally ceded New France to the British, and largely withdrew from the continent.

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History of Birth Control in Canada

Human beings have practised birth control throughout history. However, in 19th-century Canada, this practice was largely forbidden or taboo. It was only in the 1920s that groups of citizens formed to defend birth control. The information, services and products related to this practice became increasingly accessible after the war. During the 1960s, Canada decriminalized contraception and abortion. In the 1970s, the number of organizations and services promoting access to contraception and family planning began to increase. From then on, birth control became an integral part of the public health approach to sexual health. 

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The Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations

The Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations is a Canadian-led multilateral project aimed at increasing women’s meaningful participation in peace operations. Named after aeronautical engineer and women’s rights pioneer Elsie MacGill, the initiative figures into Canada’s feminist foreign policy and Global Affairs Canada’s commitment to the United Nations’ Women, Peace and Security agenda (see Canada and Peacekeeping).

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Cannabis Legalization in Canada

Cannabis, also known as marijuana (among countless other names), is a psychoactive intoxicant that was banned in Canada from 1923 until medical cannabis became legal in 2001. The consumption and sale of recreational cannabis was legalized and regulated on 17 October 2018, after Parliament passed Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. Legalization was supported by a majority of Canadians, despite concerns about the drug’s addictiveness and health effects, especially among young people.

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Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)

The Bank of Nova Scotia, commonly referred to as “Scotiabank,” is Canada’s third largest chartered bank. Incorporated in 1832, the bank has established itself as Canada’s most international bank through extensive operations throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Central America and parts of Asia. It is also known as “Canada’s gold bank” because of its dominant position in bullion trading. The bank also operates three other business lines: personal banking, commercial banking, and wealth management. Scotiabank is a public company that trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BNS and on the Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange under the symbol SBTT. In 2019, Scotiabank registered $31 billion in revenue and $9.4 billion in profit and held $1.1 trillion in assets. The bank employs more than 100,000 people, who serve more than 25 million customers around the world.

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Canadian Olympic Committee

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is the organization responsible for Canada’s participation at the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, and Youth Olympic Games. It helps select and financially assist Canadian cities in their efforts to host an Olympic Games or Pan American Games. It also manages programs that promote the values of the Olympics throughout Canada. The organization, which was known as the Canadian Olympic Association (COA) from 1912 to 2002, has a staff of more than 100 people. Its offices are in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

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Bluenose

The most famous ship in Canadian history, the Bluenose was both a fishing and racing vessel in the 1920s and 1930s. The Nova Scotia schooner achieved immortality when its image was engraved onto the Canadian dime.

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Edmonton Football Team (EE Football Team)

The Edmonton Football Team or EE Football Team (formerly the Edmonton Eskimos) is a community-owned football team that plays in the West Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL). In the CFL’s modern era (post-Second World War), the team has won the Grey Cup championship 14 times, second only to the 16 championships held by the Toronto Argonauts. This included three victories in a row from 1954 to 1956 and an unprecedented five straight championships from 1978 to 1982. The club also holds a North American professional sports record for reaching the playoffs in 34 consecutive seasons between 1972 and 2005. Notable alumni include former Alberta premiers Peter Lougheed and Don Getty, former lieutenant-governor of Alberta Norman Kwong and former Edmonton mayor Bill Smith.

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Gerald Stanley Case

On 9 February 2018, Gerald Stanley, a white farmer in rural Saskatchewan, was acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the killing of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree man. The acquittal caused great controversy but was not appealed by prosecutors. However, it led the Justin Trudeau government to abolish peremptory challenges, which allowed Stanley’s legal team to keep five Indigenous people off the all-white jury that acquitted him. In 2021, an investigation conducted by a civilian watchdog concluded that that the RCMP was insensitive and racially discriminatory toward Boushie’s mother, and that the police mishandled witnesses and evidence. A Globe and Mail investigation also found that the RCMP “destroyed records of police communications from the night Colten Boushie died.”

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Newfoundland Dog

The Newfoundland dog is one of five Canadian dog breeds. In the past, the breed was used as a draft animal and as a companion to Canadian fishermen. Known for its ability to swim, the Newfoundland dog’s reputation as a water rescuer is unparalleled. The dog is a symbol of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the subject of many stories and legends based on the breed’s bravery and loyalty. (See also Dogs in Canada.)

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Grey Whale

The grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus) is a baleen whale found in the North Pacific Ocean. It is known for its very long migrations and seafloor feeding. Due to its habit of staying near the shore and curiosity around small ships, it is a favourite among whale watchers. Researchers generally group grey whales into three populations: the Western Pacific population, the Northern Pacific migratory population, and the Pacific Coast Feeding Group (PCFG). While all three populations migrate through waters on Canada’s west coast, the most well-known residents in Canadian waters are from the PCFG. Many of these individuals live off the coast of British Columbia year-round.

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Giant Beaver

The giant beaver (Castoroides ohioensis) is an extinct rodent that lived in North America between 1.4 million and 10,000 years ago. It was a distant cousin to modern beavers, but in many ways may have been more similar to modern capybaras. The giant beaver was one of the largest rodents ever to roam the Earth, and one of approximately 30 extinct genera of beavers. Only two beaver species survive today: the North American beaver and the Eurasian beaver. The giant beaver received its scientific name after remains were found in 1837 in Ohio. In Canada, giant beaver fossils have been found on Indian Island, New Brunswick; in Toronto and near Highgate, Ontario; and in Old Crow Basin, Yukon. They live on in the oral history of many Indigenous peoples, including the Innu, Seneca, eastern Cree, Chippewa and Vuntut Gwitchin.

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Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF)

The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) was founded in Calgary in 1932. It was a political coalition of progressive, socialist and labour groups. It sought economic reform to help Canadians affected by the Great Depression. The party governed Saskatchewan under Premier Tommy Douglas, who went on to be the first leader of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP). The CCF merged with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to form the NDP in 1961. Although the CCF never held power nationally, the adoption of many of its ideas by ruling parties contributed greatly to the development of the Canadian welfare state.

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NORAD

The North American Air Defense Agreement (NORAD) was a pact made in 1957, at the height of the Cold War. It placed under joint command the air forces of Canada and the United States. Its name was later changed to the North American Aerospace Defense Command; but it kept the NORAD acronym. Canada and the US renewed NORAD in 2006, making the arrangement permanent. It is subject to review every four years, or at the request of either country. NORAD’s mission was also expanded into maritime warnings. The naval forces of the two countries remain under separate commands.

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Northern Bottlenose Whale

The northern bottlenose whale (Hyperoodon ampullatus) is a toothed whale found in the northern regions of the Atlantic Ocean. In Canadian waters, there are two populations: one off the coast of Nova Scotia, known as the Scotian shelf population, and the other off the coast of Labrador, known as the Baffin-Labrador population. The Scotian shelf population is endangered while the Baffin-Labrador population is considered “special concern” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. The northern bottlenose whale is the largest beaked whale in the North Atlantic. (See also Endangered Animals in Canada.)