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Article

Canada’s Cold War Purge of LGBTQ from Public Service

Between the 1950s and the 1990s, the Canadian government responded to national security concerns generated by Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union by spying on, exposing and removing suspected LGBTQ individuals from the federal public service and the Canadian Armed Forces. They were cast as social and political subversives and seen as targets for blackmail by communist regimes seeking classified information. These characterizations were justified by arguments that people who engaged in same-sex relations suffered from a “character weakness” and had something to hide because their sexuality was considered a taboo and, under certain circumstances, was illegal. As a result, the RCMP investigated large numbers of people. Many of them were fired, demoted or forced to resign — even if they had no access to security information. These measures were kept out of public view to prevent scandal and to keep counter-espionage operations under wraps. In 2017, the federal government issued an official apology for its discriminatory actions and policies, along with a $145-million compensation package.

Article

Canadian Bill of Rights

The Canadian Bill of Rights was the country’s first federal law to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. It was considered groundbreaking when it was enacted by the government of John Diefenbaker in 1960. But it proved too limited and ineffective, mainly because it applies only to federal statutes and not provincial ones. Many judges regarded it as a mere interpretive aid. The bill was cited in 35 cases between 1960 and 1982; thirty were rejected by the courts. Though it is still in effect, the Bill of Rights was superseded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.

Article

1939 Royal Tour

​The 1939 royal tour by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth was the first time a reigning Canadian monarch had set foot in this country. It was the most successful royal tour in Canadian history, with enormous crowds greeting the royal couple as they crossed the country by train. The tour, which included a four-day visit to the United States, also reinforced critical Anglo-Canadian and Anglo-American relations on the eve of the Second World War.

Article

Sinking of HMHS Llandovery Castle

On the evening of 27 June 1918, while sailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Liverpool, England, the Canadian hospital ship Llandovery Castle was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat (U-86). Of the 258 crew and passengers, only 24 survived. Almost all the Canadian Army Medical Corps personnel were killed: six male officers, 64 enlisted men and 14 nursing sisters. Only one lifeboat escaped; the rest were either sucked under as the ship sank or attacked by the U-boat. The submarine’s officers were later charged with committing a war crime.

Article

Railway Disasters

​Railway accidents may result from a number of situations, including improper track beds, metal fatigue, fire, flawed rails, human error and frail bridges.

Editorial

Eugenics: Pseudo-Science Based on Crude Misconceptions of Heredity

The following article is an editorial written by The Canadian Encyclopedia staff. Editorials are not usually updated.

"Great men are almost always bad men," Lord Acton famously said. If that is so, we are going to have to tolerate flaws if we want to celebrate "great" Canadians. The eugenics movement of the early 20th century particularly tries our tolerance of several of our textbook heroes.

Article

Wartime Home Front

The two world wars of the 20th century were total wars that involved the whole nation, and the "home front" became a critical part of Canada’s effort.

Article

Residential Schools in Canada (Plain-Language Summary)

In the early 1600s, Catholic nuns and priests established the first residential schools in Canada. In 1883, these schools began to receive funding from the federal government. That year, the Government of Canada officially authorized the creation of the residential school system. The main goal of the system was to assimilate Indigenous children into white, Christian society. (See also Inuit Experiences at Residential School and Métis Experiences at Residential School .)

(This article is a plain-language summary of residential schools in Canada. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry Residential Schools in Canada.)

Editorial

Quebec Conference of 1864

The following article is an editorial written by The Canadian Encyclopedia staff. Editorials are not usually updated.

There was no media circus surrounding the conference. The press was banned from the discussions, so the newspaper reports said a great deal about the miserable October weather, but precious little about what was discussed in the meetings.

Macleans

Great Ice Storm of 1998

Then, Margaret's son, Allan, urged her to stay with him in Ottawa - but all trains in and out of the two cities were cancelled, and roads closed. Meanwhile, Allan, his wife, Lori, and their three young sons hosted nine neighborhood boys whose own homes were without power.