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Calendar

In Canada the Gregorian calendar is in use under the terms of the 1750 British Act for Regulating the Commencement of the Year, and for Correcting the Calendar Now in Use, which switched the official English calendar from the Julian to the Gregorian form in 1752.

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Smallpox in Canada

Smallpox is an infectious disease caused by the variola virus. The disease arrived in what is now Canada with French settlers in the early 17th century. Indigenous people had no immunity to smallpox, resulting in devastating infection and death rates. In 1768, arm-to-arm inoculation became more widely practised in North America. By 1800, advances in vaccination helped control the spread of smallpox. Public health efforts also reduced rates of infection. In the 20th century, Canadian scientists helped the World Health Organization eradicate smallpox. Eradication was achieved in 1979, but virus stocks still exist for research and safety reasons.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Religious Building

Later in the 17th century, under Jesuit influence and with the arrival of more artisans and builders trained in France, certain traditional features of religious architecture were used to construct churches in Québec City and Montréal.

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Civil Code

Civil Code is a fundamental legislative enactment which contains a compendious statement of a country's private law. It is typically found in legal systems whose traditions are traceable to Roman law. In Canada, only Quebec has a Civil Code.

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News Agencies

Canadian newspapers and broadcast stations depend heavily on news agencies for a regular supply of news from outside their immediate geographical area. One-third to one-half of news and editorial content comes from news agencies, also called wire services or press associations.

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Champlain Society

The Champlain Society was founded 1905 in Toronto by Sir Edmund Walker to increase public awareness of, and accessibility to, Canada's rich store of historical records. Membership, limited at first to 250, is now approximately 800.

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Maggie Vail Murder Case

In September 1869, berry pickers in Saint John, New Brunswick, discovered the remains of an adult and a child hidden in some bushes. The bodies were soon identified as belonging to Sarah Margaret “Maggie” Vail and her infant daughter, Ella May. Later that month, architect John A. Munroe was charged with the murder of Vail, with whom he had an affair. Although his lawyer argued that Munroe was incapable of murder given his education and social standing — an early example of the “character” defence — he was convicted in December 1869. Munroe eventually confessed to the murders and was executed in February 1870.

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Canadian Museum of History

The Canadian Museum of History (CMH) in Gatineau, QC, is the leading museum of human history in Canada and one of the country’s oldest public institutions. Previously called the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the crown corporation’s name was changed to the Canadian Museum of History, and its mandate rewritten, in 2013. Recognized for its spectacular architecture, which is designed to reflect features of the Canadian landscape, the CMH is Canada's most visited museum, with an average 1.2 million visitors each year.

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Incendies

The film Incendies, written and directed by Denis VILLENEUVE and inspired by Wajdi MOUAWAD's play, opened in 2010. A Canada-France coproduction shot in Montréal and Jordan, it describes the shattering quest of a pair of twins.

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Crown

In a monarchy, the Crown is an abstract concept or symbol that represents the state and its government. In a constitutional monarchy such as Canada, the Crown is the source of non-partisan sovereign authority. It is part of the legislative, executive and judicial powers that govern the country. Under Canada’s system of responsible government, the Crown performs each of these functions on the binding advice, or through the actions of, members of Parliament, ministers or judges. As the embodiment of the Crown, the monarch — currently Queen Elizabeth II — serves as head of state. The Queen and her vice-regal representatives — the governor general at the federal level and lieutenant-governors provincially — possess what are known as prerogative powers; they can be made without the approval of another branch of government, though they are rarely used. The Queen and her representatives also fulfill ceremonial functions as Head of State.

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Fur Trade in Canada

The fur trade was a vast commercial enterprise across the wild, forested expanse of what is now Canada. It was at its peak for nearly 250 years, from the early 17th to the mid-19th centuries. It was sustained primarily by the trapping of beavers to satisfy the European demand for felt hats. The intensely competitive trade opened the continent to exploration and settlement. It financed missionary work, established social, economic and colonial relationships between Europeans and Indigenous people, and played a formative role in the creation and development of Canada.

(This is the full-length entry about the fur trade. For a plain-language summary, please see Fur Trade in Canada (Plain Language Summary).)

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Vimy Ridge

Among Canada’s defining events, the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the First World War ranks high. It was a triumph — a major victory for the Allied side after a long, bloody stalemate — and a tragedy. In the four-day battle, 3,598 Canadians died and another 7,004 were wounded. In the century since it ended, on 12 April 1917, it has become something else: an event bordering on myth. “In those few minutes,” said Canadian Brigadier-General A.E. Ross of the victory, “I witnessed the birth of a nation.”

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Iroquois Wars

The Iroquois Wars, also known as the Beaver Wars and the French and Iroquois Wars, were a series of 17th-century conflicts involving the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (also known as the Iroquois or Five Nations, then including the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca), numerous other First Nations, and French colonial forces. The origins of the wars lay in the competitive fur trade. In about 1640, the Haudenosaunee began a campaign to increase their territorial holdings and access to animals like beaver and deer. Hostilities continued until 1701, when the Haudenosaunee agreed to a peace treaty with the French. The wars represent the intense struggle for control over resources in the early colonial period and resulted in the permanent dispersal or destruction of several First Nations in the Eastern Woodlands.

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Singing Schools

Singing schools. A New-World echo of an English movement to renovate psalm-singing. The schools appeared first in New England in the early 18th century.

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Alliance française in Canada

Since 1902, the Alliance Française has offered high-level French classes in Canada and developed cultural programming to boost the cultural influence of France and the Francophonie throughout the world. While it once had twenty committees scattered across Canada, today there remain nine, located in large cities outside Quebec. Each year, the Alliance Française receives 12,000 students in Canada and close to half a million worldwide. Its funding comes mainly from enrolment income from the classes it offers. The Alliance Française de Toronto is the largest in the country, with five branches established in the region.