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Canadian Identity

The question of what it means to be a Canadian has been a difficult and much debated one. Some people see the question itself as central to that identity. Canadians have never reached a consensus on a single, unified conception of the country. Most notions of Canadian identity have shifted between the ideas of unity and plurality. They have emphasized either a vision of “one” Canada or a nation of “many” Canadas. A more recent view of Canadian identity sees it as marked by a combination of both unity and plurality. The pluralist approach sees compromise as the best response to the tensions — national, regional, ethnic, religious and political — that make up Canada.

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Hill 70 and Canadian Independence

Canada’s war of independence was the First World War. Unlike the Americans, our war of independence was not fought against the country from which we became independent, but alongside it. We started the war as a colony of Britain and ended it as an ally. The remarkable performance of the Canadian Corps and its first Canadian commander made these gains in autonomy possible.

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The American Response to the Canadian Rebellions of 1837–38

By December 1837 and January 1838, rebels from Upper and Lower Canada had suffered heavy defeats at the hands of British and Loyalist forces. (See: Rebellion in Lower Canada; Rebellion in Upper Canada.) They fled to the United States to seek financial and military assistance. The American public was aware that there had been armed conflicts in the Canadas. Many were even initially supportive. However, the presence of Canadian rebels on American soil forced many to question American involvement. The growing tensions with Great Britain over the Caroline Affair complicated matters. The creation of the Republic of Texas and the fight over the abolition of slavery were also factors. In January 1838, US President Martin Van Buren took steps to ensure America’s neutrality in the Canadian rebellions.

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First World War (WWI)

The First World War of 1914–1918 was the bloodiest conflict in Canadian history, taking the lives of nearly 61,000 Canadians. It erased romantic notions of war, introducing slaughter on a massive scale, and instilled a fear of foreign military involvement that would last until the Second World War. The great achievements of Canadian soldiers on battlefields such as Ypres, Vimy and Passchendaele, however, ignited a sense of national pride and a confidence that Canada could stand on its own, apart from the British Empire, on the world stage. The war also deepened the divide between French and English Canada and marked the beginning of widespread state intervention in society and the economy.

(This is the full-length entry about the First World War. For a plain-language summary, please see First World War (Plain-Language Summary).)

Macleans

Expos Bought by Loria

An ardent baseball fan since the 1950s and a minority owner of the Montreal Expos, Mark Routtenberg concedes that even his passion for the Grand Old Game waned during the past year.

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Convention of 1818

The Convention of 1818 was a treaty between the United States and Britain that set the 49th parallel as the boundary between British North America and the US across the West.

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Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer.

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Fort Anne

For the next 40 years, the British at Fort Anne maintained a precarious position in the Acadian-dominated province and were frequently attacked by French and Indian raiding parties. The status of the fort declined with the founding of Halifax (1749) and the expulsion of the Acadians (1755).

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Fort Haldimand

Fort Haldimand, located on the west promontory of Carleton Island at the east end of Lake Ontario, about 16 km offshore from Kingston, Ontario, was built by the British in 1778 during the American Revolution.

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Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force

In 1918, Canada sent troops to Russia as part of an Allied intervention to support Russian government forces against Bolshevik revolutionaries. One group of Canadian soldiers operated in northern Russia, around the ports of Murmansk and Archangel, while another, much larger group, the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force (CSEF), was based at Vladivostok. Although the CSEF never fought any battles, 21 Canadians died, most because of disease or accident.

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Canada Pension Plan

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is an earnings-related public pension plan. The CPP makes a monthly payment to Canadians and their families to partially replace their income after retirement, disability or death. Working Canadians make regular payments to the CPP in order to be eligible. The CPP covers all Canadian workers except those in Quebec who are covered by the parallel Quebec Pension Plan (QPP). The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board manages about $300 billion in CPP assets, making it one of the largest pension fund managers in the world.

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Lewis (Louis) Chow (Primary Source)

Lewis Chow was a Chinese Canadian conscripted to serve in Force 136, the Far East Branch of the Special Operations Executive. Chow was rushed through training and parachuted into Kuala Lumpur. However, the atomic bombings of Japan cut the war and his dangerous mission short. Read and listen to Chow describe his training and the risks he faced as an Allied undercover agent in the Japanese-occupied Malay Peninsula.

Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.

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Edward Fey "Ed" Lee (Primary Source)

Edward Fey "Ed" Lee joined the Canadian Armed Forces as a volunteer for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) overseas program. He served from 1944 to 1946. Being a Canadian of Chinese origin, Lee was called to duty as a secret agent in Asia under the command of the British Army. Listen to his tales of guerrilla warfare deep in Japanese-occupied territory.

Please be advised that Memory Project primary sources may deal with personal testimony that reflect the speaker’s recollections and interpretations of events. Individual testimony does not necessarily reflect the views of the Memory Project and Historica Canada.

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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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Canada at the 1956 Olympic Winter Games

The 1956 Olympic Winter Games were held in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, from 26 January to 5 February 1956. Canada sent 35 athletes (27 men, 8 women) and finished ninth in the overall medal count with one silver and two bronze medals. Figure skating pair Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden took home silver, while Lucile Wheeler won Canada’s first medal in alpine skiing, finishing third in the women’s downhill race. In ice hockey, Canada took the bronze medal, defeated by both the Americans and the Soviets, who won gold in their debut at the Olympic Winter Games.