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Conscription in Canada
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment or “call up” (sometimes known as “the draft”) of citizens for military service. The federal government enacted conscription in both the First World War and the Second World War, creating sharp divisions between English-speaking Canadians, who tended to support the practice, and French-speaking Canadians, who generally did not. Canada does not currently have mandatory military service.
In the early 20th Century, the Ross rifle, a Canadian-made infantry rifle, was produced as an alternative to the British-made Lee-Enfield rifle. The Ross rifle was used during the First World War, where it gained a reputation as an unreliable weapon among Canadian soldiers. By 1916, the Ross had been mostly replaced by the Lee-Enfield.
William Lyon Mackenzie and the Founding of Toronto
March 6, 1834 marked the founding of the city Canadians love to hate: the city of Toronto.
The Book of Negroes
The document called the “Book of Negroes” is a British naval ledger that lists the names of Black Loyalists who fled to Canada during the American Revolutionary War (1775–83). It is also the title of Lawrence Hill’s third novel, which was published in 2007. (It was released in the United States, Australia and New Zealand under the title Someone Knows My Name.) A work of historical fiction, The Book of Negroes tells the story of Aminata Diallo, who is captured by slave traders in Africa and brought to America. Aminata’s story illustrates the physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, religious and economic violations of the slave trade. The novel has been translated into more than eight languages and has sold more than 800,000 copies worldwide. It won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book. It was also the first book to win both CBC Radio’s Canada Reads and Radio Canada’s Combat des livres.
Working Class History: English Canada
Most adult Canadians earn their living in the form of wages and salaries and are therefore associated with the definition of "working class." Less than a third of employed Canadians typically belong to unions. Unionized or not, the struggles and triumphs of Canadian workers are an essential part of the country's development.
The Underground Railroad was a secret network of abolitionists (people who wanted to abolish slavery). They helped African Americans escape from enslavement in the American South to free Northern states or to Canada. The Underground Railroad was the largest anti-slavery freedom movement in North America. It brought between 30,000 and 40,000 fugitives to British North America (now Canada).
This is the full-length entry about the Underground Railroad. For a plain language summary, please see The Underground Railroad (Plain-Language Summary).
Collapse of the Peace River Bridge
The spectacular suspension bridge across the Peace River south of Fort St. John, British Columbia, was opened in the summer of 1943, replacing a ferry crossing on the Alaska Highway.
War on the Lakes in the War of 1812
The North American heartland, linked by rivers running from the north, west, and south and flowing eastwards via the St Lawrence River, saw intense fighting during the War of 1812.
Madawaska: A Canadian-American Borderland, from Colonization to Division
Madawaska was a borderland that comprised parts of New Brunswick, Lower Canada, and the state of Maine, concentrated along the upper Saint John River valley.
First World War (WWI)
The First World War of 1914–1918 was the bloodiest conflict in Canadian history, taking the lives of more than 60,000 Canadians.
Toronto Feature: Anti-Greek Riots
This text is from the free Toronto in Time app, which was created by The Canadian Encyclopedia. The app is available from the App Store and the Google Play store. Visit its companion website, which is linked below, to explore all the features of the app online.
The Korean War began 25 June 1950, when North Korean armed forces invaded South Korea. The war’s combat phase lasted until an armistice was signed 27 July 1953. As part of a United Nations (UN) force consisting of 16 countries, 26,791 Canadian military personnel served in the Korean War, during both the combat phase and as peacekeepers afterward. The last Canadian soldiers left Korea in 1957. After the two world wars, Korea remains Canada’s third-bloodiest overseas conflict, taking the lives of 516 Canadians and wounding more than 1,000. In total, an estimated three million people died during the war. More than half were civilians. The two Koreas remain technically at war today.
The Conquest of New France
The Conquest (La Conquête) is a term used to describe the acquisition of Canada by Great Britain during the Seven Years’ War. It also refers to the resulting conditions experienced by Canada’s 60,000 to 70,000 French-speaking inhabitants and numerous Indigenous groups. French forces at Quebec City surrendered to British forces on 18 September 1759, a few days after the crucial Battle of the Plains of Abraham. French resistance ended in 1760 with the capitulation of Montreal. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris surrendered New France to Britain. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 introduced assimilative policies that ultimately failed. They were replaced by the provisions of the Quebec Act of 1774. Although it helped spark the American Revolutionary War (1775–83), the Act also granted Canadians enviable conditions that resulted in generations of relative stability.
Statute of Westminster, 1931
The Statute of Westminster is a British law that was passed on 11 December 1931. It was Canada’s all-but-final achievement of independence from Britain. It enacted recommendations from the Balfour Report of 1926, which had declared that Britain and its Dominions were constitutionally “equal in status.” The Statute of Westminster gave Canada and the other Commonwealth Dominions legislative equality with Britain. They now had full legal freedom except in areas of their choosing. The Statute also clarified the powers of Canada’s Parliament and those of the other Dominions. (See also Editorial: The Statute of Westminster, Canada’s Declaration of Independence.)
Prisoner of War Camps in Canada
Canada operated prison camps for interned civilians during the First and Second World Wars, and for 34,000 combatant German prisoners of war (POWs) during the Second World War.
Prehistoric humans first arrived in significant numbers in what is now Canada about 12,000 years ago. They crossed an ancient land bridge between present-day Siberia and Alaska and spread steadily across the North American continent.
Wilfrid Laurier: Let Them Become Canadians, 1905
On 1 September 1905, Wilfrid Laurier spoke before an audience of some 10,000 people in Edmonton, the newly minted capital of Alberta, which had just joined Confederation along with Saskatchewan. It had been 11 years since he’d last visited Edmonton, and he remarked that so much had changed in that time. He noted the growth of cities in the West, as well as the development of industry and transportation, agriculture and trade there. “Gigantic strides are made on all sides over these new provinces,” he said. It was a crowning moment of a movement — to colonize the West — and Laurier was there to thank the immigrants and settlers who had made that possible. Though the Laurier government’s immigration policies championed the arrival of some and barred the landing of others, his comments on acceptance in this speech served as a better model to follow.
During the SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 90 officers and men of the Royal Canadian Dragoons were assigned to cover the retreat of a British infantry column under attack by several hundred Boer horsemen near Leliefontein farm, east Transvaal.
Reciprocity was a free trade agreement between the United States and Canada. It mutually reduced import duties and protective tariffs on certain goods exchanged between the two countries. It was in effect from 1854 to 1866 and was controversial at times on both sides of the border. It was replaced in 1878 by the Conservative Party’s protectionist National Policy. It involved levying tariffs on imported goods to shield Canadian manufacturers from American competition. A narrower reciprocity agreement was introduced in 1935 and expanded in 1938. However, it was suspended in 1948 after both countries signed the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).