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Quebec Act, 1774

The Quebec Act received royal assent on 22 June 1774. It revoked the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which had aimed to assimilate the French-Canadian population under English rule. The Quebec Act was put into effect on 1 May 1775. It was passed to gain the loyalty of the French-speaking majority of the Province of Quebec. Based on recommendations from Governors James Murray and Guy Carleton, the Act guaranteed the freedom of worship and restored French property rights. However, the Act had dire consequences for Britain’s North American empire. Considered one of the five “Intolerable Acts” by the Thirteen American Colonies, the Quebec Act was one of the direct causes of the American Revolutionary War (1775–83). It was followed by the Constitutional Act in 1791.

This is the full-length entry about the Quebec Act of 1774. For a plain language summary, please see The Quebec Act, 1774 (Plain-Language Summary).

Article

Chinese Head Tax in Canada

The Chinese head tax was enacted to restrict immigration after Chinese labour was no longer needed to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. Between 1885 and 1923, Chinese immigrants had to pay a head tax to enter Canada. The tax was levied under the Chinese Immigration Act (1885). It was the first legislation in Canadian history to exclude immigration on the basis of ethnic background. With few exceptions, Chinese people had to pay at least $50 to come to Canada. The tax was later raised to $100, then to $500. During the 38 years the tax was in effect, around 82,000 Chinese immigrants paid nearly $23 million in tax. The head tax was removed with the passing of the Chinese Immigration Act in 1923. Also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, it banned all Chinese immigrants until its repeal in 1947. In 2006, the federal government apologized for the head tax and its other racist immigration policies targeting Chinese people.

This is the full-length entry about the Chinese Head Tax. For a plain-language summary, please see Chinese Head Tax in Canada (Plain-Language Summary).

Article

Canadian Arctic Sovereignty

Arctic sovereignty is a key part of Canada’s history and future. The country has 162,000 km of Arctic coastline. Forty per cent of Canada’s landmass is in its three northern territories. Sovereignty over the area has become a national priority for Canadian governments in the 21st century. There has been growing international interest in the Arctic due to resource development, climate change, control of the Northwest Passage and access to transportation routes. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in 2008, “The geopolitical importance of the Arctic and Canada’s interests in it have never been greater.”

Article

Hans Island

Hans Island, Nunavut, is a tiny (1.2 km2), unpopulated island south of the 81st parallel in the Kennedy Channel (the northern part of Nares Strait), almost equidistant between Ellesmere Island and Greenland. The Greenlandic word for the island is Tartupaluk. (Greenlandic is a language spoken by Greenland Inuit.) For decades, both Canada and Denmark claimed ownership of the island. On 14 June 2022, however, the two countries settled the dispute, dividing the island roughly equally between them. (See also Canadian Arctic Sovereignty.)

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Internment of Japanese Canadians

The forcible expulsion and confinement of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War is one of the most tragic sets of events in Canada’s history. Some 21,000 Japanese Canadians were taken from their homes on Canada’s West Coast, without any charge or due process. Beginning 24 February 1942, around 12,000 of them were exiled to remote areas of British Columbia and elsewhere. The federal government stripped them of their property and pressured many of them to accept mass deportation after the war. Those who remained were not allowed to return to the West Coast until 1 April 1949. In 1988, the federal government officially apologized for its treatment of Japanese Canadians. A redress payment of $21,000 was made to each survivor, and more than $12 million was allocated to a community fund and human rights projects.

This article is the full-length text on Japanese Internment in Canada. For a plain-language summary, see Internment of Japanese Canadians (Plain-Language Summary).

Article

Peasant Farm Policy

From 1889 to 1897, the Canadian government’s Peasant Farm Policy set limits on Indigenous agriculture on the Prairies. The policy included rules about the types of tools First Nations farmers could use on reserve lands. It also restricted how much they grew and what they could sell. The Peasant Farm Policy was built on the belief that Indigenous farmers had to gradually evolve into modern farmers. It also reduced these farmers’ ability to compete with settlers on the open market. The policy ultimately impeded the growth and development of First Nations farms. As a result, First Nations never realized their agricultural potential.

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Military Service Act

The Military Service Act became law on 29 August 1917. It was a politically explosive and controversial law that bitterly divided the country along French-English lines. It made all male citizens aged 20 to 45 subject to conscription for military service, through the end of the First World War. As such, the Act had significant political consequences. It led to the creation of Prime Minister Borden’s Union Government and drove most of his French-Canadian supporters into opposition.

Article

Numbered Treaties

The Numbered Treaties were a series of 11 treaties made between the Crown and First Nations from 1871 to 1921. The Numbered Treaties cover the area between the Lake of the Woods (northern Ontario, southern Manitoba) to the Rocky Mountains (northeastern British Columbia and interior Plains of Alberta) to the Beaufort Sea (north of Yukon and the Northwest Territories).

The treaties provided the Crown with land for industrial development and white settlement. In exchange for their traditional territory, government negotiators made various promises to First Nations, both orally and in the written texts of the treaties. These include special rights to treaty lands and the distribution of cash payments, hunting and fishing tools, farming supplies, and the like. These terms of agreement are controversial and contested. To this day, the Numbered Treaties have ongoing legal and socio-economic impacts on Indigenous communities. (See also Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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

Article

Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, 2022

On 6 February 2022, Queen Elizabeth II marked the 70th anniversary of her accession to the thrones of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth realms in 1952. In the spring of 2022, there were Platinum Jubilee tours of the Commonwealth by members of the royal family and a four-day holiday weekend of Platinum Jubilee celebrations in the United Kingdom from 2 to 5 June 2022. The Queen is the only British and Commonwealth monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee. The Queen is currently the second-longest reigning monarch in world history, her record exceeded only by the 72-year reign of King Louis XIV of France.

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Canadian Film History: 1896 to 1938

Filmmaking is a powerful form of cultural and artistic expression, as well as a highly profitable commercial enterprise. From a practical standpoint, filmmaking is a business involving large sums of money and a complex division of labour. This labour is involved, roughly speaking, in three sectors: production, distribution and exhibition. The history of the Canadian film industry has been one of sporadic achievement accomplished in isolation against great odds. Canadian cinema has existed within an environment where access to capital for production, to the marketplace for distribution and to theatres for exhibition has been extremely difficult. The Canadian film industry, particularly in English Canada, has struggled against the Hollywood entertainment monopoly for the attention of an audience that remains largely indifferent toward the domestic industry. The major distribution and exhibition outlets in Canada have been owned and controlled by foreign interests. The lack of domestic production throughout much of the industry’s history can only be understood against this economic backdrop.

This article is one of four that surveys the history of the film industry in Canada. The entire series includes: Canadian Film History: 1896 to 1938; Canadian Film History: 1939 to 1973; Canadian Film History: 1974 to Present; Canadian Film History: Notable Films and Filmmakers 1980 to Present.

Article

Canadian Film History: 1939 to 1973

Filmmaking is a powerful form of cultural and artistic expression, as well as a highly profitable commercial enterprise. From a practical standpoint, filmmaking is a business involving large sums of money and a complex division of labour. This labour is involved, roughly speaking, in three sectors: production, distributionand exhibition. The history of the Canadian film industry has been one of sporadic achievement accomplished in isolation against great odds. Canadian cinema has existed within an environment where access to capital for production, to the marketplace for distribution and to theatres for exhibition has been extremely difficult. The Canadian film industry, particularly in English Canada, has struggled against the Hollywood entertainment monopoly for the attention of an audience that remains largely indifferent toward the domestic industry. The major distribution and exhibition outlets in Canada have been owned and controlled by foreign interests. The lack of domestic production throughout much of the industry’s history can only be understood against this economic backdrop.

This article is one of four that surveys the history of the film industry in Canada. The entire series includes: Canadian Film History: 1896 to 1938; Canadian Film History: 1939 to 1973; Canadian Film History: 1974 to Present; Canadian Film History: Regional Cinema and Auteurs, 1980 to Present.

Article

North-West Territories (1870–1905)

The North-West Territories was the first Canadian territory. It was Established on 15 July 1870. As a territory, the region became part of Canada. But it lacked the population, economic and infrastructure resources to attain provincial status. It thus fell under the jurisdiction of the federal government. It covered a vast area, stretching west from a disputed boundary with Labrador, across the northern portions of present-day Quebec and Ontario, through the Prairies to British Columbia, and north from the 49th parallel to the Arctic Ocean. The territory was subject to numerous boundary changes before 1905. At that time, the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta were carved out of the southwest portion of the region. In 1906, the remaining territory was renamed the Northwest Territories.

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Constitutional History of Canada

The Constitution of Canada is the country’s governing legal framework. It defines the powers of the executive branches of government and of the legislatures at both the federal and provincial levels. Canada’s Constitution is not one legal document. It is a complex mix of statutes, orders, British and Canadian court decisions, and generally accepted practices known as constitutional conventions. The Constitution has been in constant evolution from colonial times to the present day. The story of the Constitution is the story of Canada itself. It reflects the shifting legal, social and political pressures facing Canadians, as well as their choices as a society.

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Language Policy in Canada

Language policy is comprised of a body of theory, principles, laws, programs and measures designed to manage one or more languages in a country. In monolingual societies, language policy is usually concerned with promoting an approved, standardized grammar of the common language. In bilingual or multilingual societies, it is intended to manage situations in which two or more languages are in contact and/or conflict, and to enhance the use and status of certain languages over others. Language policy in Canada has been designed to manage historical relationships among multiple languages – notably FrenchEnglish and Indigenous languages - and their various communities. While it has evolved over time, Canadian language policy has not always been marked by positive or just measures.

Article

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 Citysurrendered 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.

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Gun Control in Canada

Gun control in Canada is governed by the Criminal Code, as well as the Firearms Act (1995) and related regulations. The Criminal Code lays out the criminal offences related to the misuse, storage, transportation, sale and possession of firearms; as well as consequent punishments. The Firearms Act regulates the manufacture, import/export, acquisition, possession, transfer, transportation, and storage of firearms in Canada. It lays out prohibitions and restrictions on various types of firearms, which are classified as either non-restricted, restricted, or prohibited. The Act also outlines the requirements for the licensing and registration of firearms in Canada. The Canadian Firearms Program (CFP), led by the RCMP, administers the Firearms Act. Fulfilment of the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and obtainment of a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) are required to possess and use firearms in Canada.

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Official Languages Act (1969)

​The Official Languages Act (1969) is the federal statute that made English and French the official languages of Canada. It requires all federal institutions to provide services in English or French on request. The Act was passed on the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (established by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson) and came into force on 7 September 1969. It created the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, which oversees its implementation.