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History of Settlement in the Canadian Prairies

The Canadian Prairies were peopled in six great waves of migration, spanning from prehistory to the present. The migration from Asia, about 13,300 years ago, produced an Indigenous population of 20,000 to 50,000 by about 1640. Between 1640 and 1840, several thousand European and Canadian fur traders arrived, followed by several hundred British immigrants. They created dozens of small outposts and a settlement in the Red River Colony, where the Métis became the largest part of the population. The third wave, from the 1840s to the 1890s, consisted mainly but not solely of Canadians of British heritage. The fourth and by far the largest wave was drawn from many nations, mostly European. It occurred from 1897 to 1929, with a pause (1914–22) during and after the First World War. The fifth wave, drawn from other Canadian provinces and from Europe and elsewhere, commenced in the late 1940s. It lasted through the 1960s. The sixth wave, beginning in the 1970s, drew especially upon peoples of the southern hemisphere. It has continued, with fluctuations, to the present. Throughout the last century, the region has also steadily lost residents, as a result of migration to other parts of Canada, to the United States, and elsewhere.

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Winnipeg General Strike of 1919

The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 was the largest strike in Canadian history (see Strikes and Lockouts). Between 15 May and 25 June 1919, more than 30,000 workers left their jobs (see Work). Factories, shops, transit and city services shut down. The strike resulted in arrests, injuries and the deaths of two protestors. It did not immediately succeed in empowering workers and improving job conditions. But the strike did help unite the working class in Canada (see Labour Organization). Some of its participants helped establish what is now the New Democratic Party.

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

This is the full-length entry about the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. For a plain-language summary, please see Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 (Plain-language Summary).

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Edmonton Elks

The Edmonton Elks (formerly the Edmonton Football Team, or EE Football Team, and the Edmonton Eskimos) is a community-owned football team that plays in the West Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL). In the CFL’s modern era (post-Second World War), the team has won the second-most Grey Cup championships (14). This included three victories in a row from 1954 to 1956 and an unprecedented five straight championships from 1978 to 1982. The club also holds the North American professional sports record for reaching the playoffs in 34 consecutive seasons (1972–2005). Notable alumni include former Alberta premiers Peter Lougheed and Don Getty, former lieutenant-governor of Alberta Norman Kwong, former Edmonton mayor Bill Smith, and former NFL star Warren Moon.

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International Trade

International trade is the buying and selling of goods and services between members of different countries. This exchange has been a key part of the Canadian economy since the first settlers came. Canadian settlers depended on exports of resources such as timber and grain (see Timber Trade History; Wheat). In the 20th century, Canada’s exports shifted to services, manufactured goods and commodities such as oil and metals.

Since the 1980s, Canada has signed free trade agreements with dozens of countries to increase global trade and investment.

Canada’s three biggest trading partners are the United States, the European Union and China. The United States is Canada largest trading partner by far. However, trade with China grew quickly in the 2010s, and this trend will likely continue.

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

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Bank of Canada

The Bank of Canada (BoC) is the country’s central bank, a financial institution that provides banking services on behalf of the federal government. Its operations include four principal functions: to manage the country’s money supply; to act as the federal government’s agent in issuing its bonds and managing its holdings of foreign currencies; to manage various monetary policies that can influence the performance of the economy, such as interest rates; and to manage the overall financial industry in Canada and economic relations with other countries and international organizations. The Bank of Canada’s headquarters are in Ottawa.

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Mercantilism

Mercantilism is an economic theory and policy practised during Canada’s colonial periods. The theory of mercantilism holds that there is a fixed amount of wealth in the world. A nation’s wealth is thus dependent on exporting (selling to other countries) more than it imports (buying from others). European nations — including France and England (later Great Britain) — used this system to their advantage from the 16th century through the mid-19th century. The purpose was to extract as much wealth as possible from the colonies without investing much into them. The Atlantic slave trade is also inextricably linked to mercantilism. (See Black Enslavement in Canada.)

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Canadian Pacific Railway

The Canadian Pacific Railway company (CPR) was incorporated in 1881. Its original purpose was the construction of a transcontinental railway, a promise to British Columbia upon its entry into Confederation (see Railway History). The railway — completed in 1885 — connected Eastern Canada to British Columbia and played an important role in the development of the nation. Built in dangerous conditions by thousands of labourers, including 15,000 Chinese temporary workers, the railway facilitated communication and transportation across the country. Over its long history, the Canadian Pacific Railway diversified its operations. The company established hotels, shipping lines and airlines, and developed mining and telecommunications industries (see Shipping Industry; Air Transport Industry). In 2001, Canadian Pacific separated into five separate and independent companies, with Canadian Pacific Railway returning to its origins as a railway company. CP, as it is branded today, has over 22,500 km of track across Canada and the United States. It is a public company and it trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol CP. In 2020, CP reported $7.71 billion in total revenues.

This is the full-length entry about the Canadian Pacific Railway. For a plain-language summary, please see The Canadian Pacific Railway (Plain-Language Summary).

Article

The Great Depression in Canada

The Great Depression of the early 1930s was a worldwide social and economic shock. Few countries were affected as severely as Canada. Millions of Canadians were left unemployed, hungry and often homeless. The decade became known as the Dirty Thirties due to a crippling droughtin the Prairies, as well as Canada’s dependence on raw material and farm exports. Widespread losses of jobs and savings transformed the country. The Depression triggered the birth of social welfare and the rise of populist political movements. It also led the government to take a more activist role in the economy.

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

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Money in Canada

Money consists of anything that is generally accepted for the settlement of debts or the purchase of goods or services. The evolution of money as a system for regulating society’s economic transactions represented a significant advancement over earlier forms of exchange based on barter, in which goods and services are exchanged for other goods or services. Canadian money has its roots in the Indigenous wampum belts of the East, the early currencies of European settlers and the influence of the United States.

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

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Canadian Women's Press Club

The Canadian Women's Press Club (CWPC) was founded in June 1904 in a Canadian Pacific Railway Pullman car, aboard which 16 women (half anglophone, half francophone) travelled to the St. Louis World's Fair. All but one were working journalists who covered the event. The CWPC offered female journalists professional support and development in its mission to “maintain and improve the status of journalism as a profession for women.”

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Carbon Pricing in Canada

Carbon pricing refers to a cost that is imposed on the combustion of fossil fuels used by industry and consumers. Pricing can be set either directly through a carbon tax or indirectly through a cap-and-trade market system. A price on carbon is intended to capture the public costs of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and shift the burden for damage back to the original emitters, compelling them to reduce emissions. In 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a national climate change policy that includes a system of carbon pricing across Canada. Provinces can either create their own systems to meet federal requirements or have a federal carbon tax imposed on them. Nine provinces and territories have their own carbon pricing plans that meet federal requirements. Ottawa has imposed its own carbon tax in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

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Irving Group of Companies

Companies owned by New Brunswick’s Irving family dominate the province’s natural resource industries, as well as its media, engineering and construction industries. The first Irving business was a sawmill purchased in 1881. The family now owns many companies that supply each other from different steps in the chain of production. These companies largely fall under four umbrellas: J.D. Irving Limited (whose many segments include forestry, food, construction and transportation), Brunswick News (newspapers), Irving Oil (oil refining and marketing) and Ocean Capital Holdings (real estate, radio, construction and materials). The Irving family owns Canada’s largest oil refinery, is one of the five largest landowners in North America, and employs 1 in 12 people in New Brunswick. It is one of the wealthiest families in Canada.

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George Weston Limited

George Weston Limited is one of North America’s largest processors and distributors of food. The company operates three subsidiaries: Loblaw Companies Limited, a grocery, drugstore and general retailer; Weston Foods, a baking company; and Choice Properties, a real estate investment trust. George Weston Ltd. owns a variety of brands and retail banners. Weston Foods includes Wonder, D’Italiano and Country Harvest and Loblaw brands include No Name, President’s Choice, Life Brand and Joe Fresh. Loblaw stores include Loblaws, Zehrs, Your Independent Grocer, Provigo, Atlantic Superstore, Fortinos, Dominion, Independent City Market, Valu-mart, ARZ Bakery, Wholesale Club, T&T Supermarket, Real Canadian Liquorstore, Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills, Maxi, Extra Foods and Shoppers Drug Mart. In 2020, George Weston Ltd. registered $54.705 billion in revenue and $919 million in profit and held assets valued at $48.075 billion. George Weston Ltd. Is the country’s largest private-sector employer, with over 200,000 full- and part-time employees. It is a public company headquartered in Toronto and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol WN.

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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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Agriculture in Canada

Agriculture is the practice of growing crops and rearing animals mainly for food. Farmers also produce other items such as wool from sheep and CBD oil from hemp plants.

In Canada, agriculture is an important industry. Only about 7 per cent of Canada’s land can be farmed. Other marginal (poorer) land can be used to ranch cattle. Aquaculture operations are found on the East and West Coasts and in the Great Lakes. Some crops such as tomatoes, cannabis and flowers are grown in greenhouses in urban centres. Canadian agriculture faces many challenges. Some of these challenges concern crop protection, soil conservation, labour, climate change and health.

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

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Unions

Unions, see CRAFT UNIONISM; INDUSTRIAL UNIONISM; LABOUR ORGANIZATION; LABOUR RELATIONS; REVOLUTIONARY INDUSTRIAL UNIONISM; UNION CENTRALS, DISTRICT AND REGIONAL; UNION CENTRALS, NATIONAL; UNION CENTRALS, QUÉBEC; UNION DES

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Pipelines in Canada

Pipelines are systems of connected pipes used to transport liquids and gases — namely oil and natural gas — across long distances from source to market. More than 840,000 km of pipelines criss-cross the country, part of a larger oil and gas sector that employs between 100,000 and 200,000 Canadians. According to Natural Resources Canada, the sector earns the government an average of $19 billion in royalties, fees and taxes each year (see Natural Resources in Canada). It also contributes nearly 8 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product.

Yet pipelines have also been controversial in Canada over fears that the fossil fuel use they facilitate could be significantly contributing to climate change. In recent years, Indigenous groups, environmentalists, municipalities, mayors and labour unions have opposed numerous pipeline projects they believe could contaminate local waterways through spills and leaks. (See also Environmental Movement in Canada

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Alcan Incorporated

Alcan Incorporated was a major Canadian aluminum mining and manufacturing corporation. From the early 1990s to the early 2000s, it was the second-largest aluminum producer in the world.The company was originally founded in 1902 as the Northern Aluminum Company Limited, located in Shawinigan, Québec. It was established as the Canadian subsidiary of the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), one of the founders of which invented the process for extracting aluminum from bauxite. Northern Aluminum was renamed the Aluminum Company of Canada in 1925, and in 1928, it formally detached from Alcoa. In 1966, it was again renamed, this time as Alcan Aluminum Limited (becoming Alcan Incorporated in 2001). In 2007, Alcan was purchased by the British-Australian multinational corporation Rio Tinto for $38 billion. Today, Rio Tinto continues to operate several smelters in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region of Québec, as well as in Kitimat, British Columbia.

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Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)

The Toronto-Dominion Bank, commonly known as TD, is the second largest chartered bank in Canada. The Toronto-Dominion Bank is the result of the past mergers of three financial companies: The Bank of Toronto, The Dominion Bank, and Canada Trust. The mergers began in 1955 when The Dominion Bank merged with The Bank of Toronto. This group then acquired Canada Trust in 2000, creating a new entity called TD Canada Trust. Toronto-Dominion Bank is a public company that trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TD. In 2020, TD registered $43.65 billion in revenue and $11.89 billion in profit and held $1.7 trillion in assets. The bank employs approximately 90,000 people, who serve more than 26.5 million customers.

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Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) was founded in 1864. Today, it is the country’s largest chartered bank and financial institution. It has five divisions: Personal and Commercial Banking, consisting of banking operations in 36 countries around the world; RBC Wealth Management, consisting of investment products and services for retail investors; RBC Capital Markets for international investment banking services; RBC Insurance for individual and group clients; and Investor and Treasury Services, providing custody services and fund administration for international clients. Royal Bank is a public company that trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange and SIX Swiss Exchange under the symbol RY. In 2020, RBC registered $47.2 billion in revenue and $11.4 billion in profit and held $1.62 trillion in assets. Royal Bank employs more than 86,000 people, who serve 17 million customers.