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Traditional Plants and Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Indigenous peoples in what is now Canada collectively used over a 1,000 different plants for food, medicine, materials, and in cultural rituals and mythology. Many of these species, ranging from algae to conifers and flowering plants, remain important to Indigenous communities today. This knowledge of plants and their uses has allowed Indigenous peoples to thrive in Canada’s diverse environments. Many traditional uses of plants have evolved to be used in modern life by Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples alike. (See also Indigenous Peoples’ Medicine in Canada.)

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Pawpaw

The pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is a shrub or small tree of the Annonaceae, or custard-apple, family. It is the only member of the custard-apple family that grows in Canada. Sometimes called dog-banana, the pawpaw’s fruit is edible. It is believed that Indigenous people, including the Erie and Onondaga, introduced the tree to Southern Ontario from the United States. The plant is a beautiful ornamental shrub due to its large leaves and red-purplish flowers. Recently, this small tree has attracted the attention of researchers as a potential anticancer drug alternative.

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White Paper

A government white paper is a Cabinet-approved document that explains a political issue and proposed legislation to address it. The purpose of a white paper is to introduce a new government policy to test the public’s reaction to it. The name derives from the custom of binding the document in white paper, rather than using a cover page. White papers are different from green papers, which seek public reaction not to new policy but to more general proposals. The most controversial white paper in Canada was issued in 1969; it sought to redefine the relationship between the federal government and Indigenous peoples. (See The 1969 White Paper.)

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British Subject Status

British subject status was the precursor to Canadian citizenship, which was created on 1 January 1947 with the passage of the Canadian Citizenship Act. Until then, people who were considered Canadian citizens were subjects of the British Empire. In a monarchy, subjects serve the monarch; but in a democracy, the state serves its citizens. Changing Canadians from subjects to citizens provided a fundamental advancement in Canada’s democracy, rule of law, and civil rights. Like the Statute of Westminster in 1931, it was a key step in Canada’s journey toward sovereignty and autonomy from Britain.

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Canada and Antisubmarine Warfare during the Cold War

During the Cold War, the Canadian Navy played a crucial role in antisubmarine warfare (ASW), working closely with its allies to patrol and monitor the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for Soviet submarine activity. Canada invested in new technology and continually modernized its fleet of ships and aircraft to better detect and counter Soviet submarines. It also operated strategic warning systems with its allies, particularly the United States. By the end of the Cold War, Canada had developed a very high reputation in the field.


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Colored Hockey League

The Coloured Hockey League of the Maritimes (CHL) was an all-Black men’s hockey league. It was organized by Black Baptists and Black intellectuals and was founded in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1895. It was defunct during and after the First World War, reformed in 1921 and then fell apart during the Depression in the 1930s. Play was known to be fast, physical and innovative. The league was designed to attract young Black men to Sunday worship with the promise of a hockey game between rival churches after the services. Later, with the influence of the Black Nationalism Movement — and with rising interest in the sport of hockey — the league came to be seen as a potential driving force for the equality of Black Canadians. Canada Post issued a commemorative stamp in honour of the league in January 2020.

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Constitution Act, 1867

The Constitution Act, 1867 was originally known as the British North America Act (BNA Act). It was the law passed by the British Parliament on 29 March 1867 to create the Dominion of Canada. It came into effect on 1 July 1867. The Act is the foundational document of Canada’s Constitution. It outlines the structure of government in Canada and the distribution of powers between the central Parliament and the provincial legislatures. It was renamed the Constitution Act, 1867 with the patriation of the Constitution in 1982.

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Largest Lakes in Canada

Surveys suggest that there may be as many as 2 million lakes in Canada. While some look like small scratches on the country’s surface, many are quite large. Nearly fourteen per cent of the world’s lakes with surface areas over 500 km2 are located in Canada. Below is a list of the largest of these large lakes. The list is ordered by the lake’s total surface area, not just the portions within Canadian borders.

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Longest Rivers in Canada

Canada’s rivers have played a vital role in the country’s history and cultural heritage. As transportation routes for Indigenous people and early settlers, they connected the country before railways and other modes of transportation. They have also been a source of water, food and recreation for thousands of years. Below is a list of Canada’s 10 longest rivers. The list is ordered by the river’s total length, not just the portions within Canadian borders.

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Manicouagan Reservoir

The Manicouagan Reservoir, 1,942 km2, elevation 360 m, is located in southeastern Quebec, about 140 km from the Labrador border. The second-largest natural lake in Quebec, it was created by a meteorite millions of years ago. The name “Manicouagan” is possibly of Innu origin and might mean “where there is bark” (for canoe making). The lake appears on Jonathan Carver’s map of Quebec (1776) as Lake Asturagamicook, and is shown to be drained by the Manicouagan or Black River.

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Canadian Forces Base Valcartier

Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Valcartier is one of the oldest military training areas in Canada. Located a few kilometres north of Quebec City, it was founded as Camp Valcartier just before the First World War. During the war, it was the primary training base for the First Canadian Contingent before it departed for overseas service. Today it is one of the Canadian Army’s major bases and is known as 2nd Canadian Division Support Base Valcartier.

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British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

In 1939, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia signed an agreement creating the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP). Located in Canada, the plan's mandate was to train Allied aircrews for the Second World War, including pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, wireless operators, air gunners, and flight engineers. More than 130,000 crewmen and women were trained between 1939 and 1945, making this one of Canada's great contributions to Allied victory in the war. It led United States President Franklin Roosevelt to call Canada the "aerodrome of democracy."

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Battle of Ortona

In December 1943, as part of the Allied advance through Italy during the Second World War, Canadian forces fought one of their toughest battles of the war in a bid to capture the town of Ortona. The month-long campaign — first at the Moro River outside Ortona, then with vicious street fighting in the town itself — cost more than 2,300 Canadian casualties, but eventually won Ortona for the Allies.

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2018 Toronto Van Attack

At 1:24 p.m. on 23 April 2018, a 25-year-old man who identified as an incel (involuntary celibate), drove a rented van onto the sidewalk on Yonge Street in Toronto’s North York business district. He proceeded to drive south, intentionally running over pedestrians. When he was stopped by police 10 minutes later, 10 people (eight of them women) were dead and 16 injured. It was the biggest mass murder in Toronto history and the worst in Canada since the Montreal massacre in 1989. On 3 March 2021, the driver was found guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. His sentencing process is scheduled to begin on 11 January 2022.

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Land Cession

A land cession is a transfer of land from one party to another through a deed of sale or surrender. Land cessions may also be referred to as land surrenders and land purchases. In Canada and the United States, Indigenous land cessions generally took place through negotiated treaties. There are cases, however, where Indigenous peoples claim that lands were taken unjustly. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 established the protocols for land cession in both Canada and the United States.

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The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood’s sixth novel, The Handmaid's Tale (1985) is a chilling dystopian vision of the future. It is set in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian America in which fundamentalist Christians have killed the president and Congress and imposed a puritanical theocracy. The Handmaid's Tale portrays a loveless police state that oppresses women and regulates all aspects of human life with constant surveillance. The novel won the Governor General's Literary Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction Literature. It has sold more than eight million copies in English. The Washington Post’s Ron Charles called it “the most popular and influential feminist novel ever written.” It has been adapted into a feature film, an acclaimed opera, a ballet, an Emmy Award-winning television series and a graphic novel. The Testaments, a highly anticipated sequel written by Atwood, was published in September 2019. It was awarded the Booker Prize in a rare tie with Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other.

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Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries is a TV series about William Murdoch, a fictional Victorian-era detective who is ahead of his time and uses forensic science and technology to solve Toronto’s most complex crimes. Often referred to as a Victorian-era CSI, the long-running police procedural features a mix of humour, intrigue, science fiction, history and period production values. Based on Maureen Jennings’s successful series of mystery novels, the show  attracted a cult following after premiering on City TV in 2008. It garnered a much larger audience after being picked up by the CBC in 2013. It was Canada’s highest-rated scripted television series in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and won the Golden Screen Award in 2017, 2018 and 2020. It is seen by millions of viewers in more than 100 countries.

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Royal Flying Corps

During the First World War, more than 5,000 Canadian pilots served in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). The RFC was formed on 13 April 1912 to satisfy Britain's need for a military presence in the expanding field of aviation. It joined with the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) in April 1918 to become the Royal Air Force. During the war, an RFC/RAF training program in Canada produced approximately 10,500 pilots, mechanics and aircraftmen.

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1492 Land Back Lane

1492 Land Back Lane refers to the site of a protest in Caledonia, Ontario, in July 2020, where Haudenosaunee protestors – known as land defenders – occupied a housing development they argue stood on unceded Six Nations territory. 1492 Land Back Lane is part of a long-standing issue between the Haudenosaunee, settlers and the government over land rights in Caledonia, dating back to the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784. In July 2021, the housing development was officially cancelled.