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History of Métis Settlements in Canada

Métis communities are found across Canada; however, the only legislated Métis land base is in Alberta. Eight Métis settlements are located across the northern and central-eastern part of the province: Paddle Prairie, Peavine, Gift Lake, East Prairie, Buffalo Lake, Kikino, Elizabeth and Fishing Lake. As of 2016, the settlements cover 512,121 hectares of land and are home to approximately 5,000 people. The Métis Settlements are self-governing and provide for the protection of Métis culture and identity.

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Egerton Ryerson

Adolphus Egerton Ryerson, Methodist minister, educator (born 24 March 1803 in Charlotteville Township, Norfolk County, Upper Canada; died 18 February 1882 in Toronto, Ontario). Egerton Ryerson was a leading figure in education and politics in 19th century Ontario. He helped found and edit the Christian Guardian (1829) and served as president of the Methodist Church of Canada (1874–78). As superintendent of education in Canada West, Ryerson established a system of free, mandatory schooling at the primary and secondary level — the forerunner of Ontario’s current school system. He also founded the Provincial Normal School (1847), which eventually became the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Ryerson also served as principal of Victoria College, which he helped found in 1836 as the Upper Canada Academy. He was also, however, involved in the development of residential schools in Canada. This has led to increasing calls to rename Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University) and other institutions named in his honour.

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Steven Heighton

Steven Heighton, poet, novelist, essayist (born 14 August 1961 in Toronto, ON; died 19 April 2022 in Kingston, ON). Steven Heighton was known for his award-winning poetry and bestselling fiction. His collection of poetry The Waking Comes Late (2016) won the Governor General’s Award while his novels The Shadow Boxer (2000) and Every Lost Country (2010) were national bestsellers. An accomplished writer who could move fluidly between poetry and prose, Heighton’s work has been praised for its exploration of place, culture and politics and has been translated into ten languages.  

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Fossmobile

The Fossmobile was invented by George Foote Foss in 1897. It is the first Canadian example of an automobile built with an internal combustion engine. While the Fossmobile was never mass-produced for the Canadian automotive market (see automotive industry), it is an example of ingenuity and innovation. A tribute/replica of the Fossmobile was unveiled at an automobile club in Burlington, Ontario in 2022.

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Tom Longboat

Thomas Charles Longboat (Gagwe:gih), distance runner, Olympian (born 4 July 1886 in Ohsweken, Six Nations of the Grand River; died 9 January 1949 in Ohsweken). Tom Longboat was an Onondaga distance runner from Six Nations of the Grand River. One of the most famous athletes of the early 20th century, Longboat pioneered training methods still used today. He is considered one of the first celebrity athletes in Canada, with his athletic successes known across North America and overseas. He was a leader in establishing marathon running as an international sport and won many marathons in record-breaking times, beating competitors from all over the world. Longboat was the first Indigenous person to win the Boston Marathon (1907). He competed for Canada at the 1908 Olympic Games. He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

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Drew Hayden Taylor

Drew Hayden Taylor, playwright, broadcaster, writer (born 1 July 1962 in Curve Lake First Nation near Peterborough, ON). Drew Hayden Taylor is a leading Indigenous playwright and humorist. His award-winning plays have been produced in Canada, the United States, and Europe. His novels have been nominated for several awards, including the Governor General’s Award for fiction. He has also written numerous scripts for television series including The Beachcombers, North of 60, and Mixed Blessings. Taylor’s writings have significantly contributed to Indigenous literature in Canada. (See also Influential Indigenous Authors in Canada.)

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Olivier Le Jeune

We may never know the exact number of British ships that carried enslaved people from the continent of Africa to the New World (see Black Enslavement in Canada). However, the earliest record of enslaved Black Africans in New France is the sale of a boy from either Madagascar or Guinea. In 1629, the child, believed to have been around six years old, was brought to New France aboard a British ship as the chattel slave of Sir David Kirke, a trader and privateer for England’s King Charles I. The boy was later sold to a French clerk named Olivier Le Baillif, and then transferred to Guillaume Couillard. In 1633, the enslaved boy was baptized and given the name Olivier Le Jeune. Le Jeune remained in the colony of New France for the rest of his life until he died on 10 May 1654.

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Deborah Cox

Deborah Cox, singer, songwriter, actor (born 13 July 1974 in Toronto, ON). One of Canada’s top R&B artists, Deborah Cox is known for her powerful, soulful voice and sultry ballads. “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here,” from her second album, One Wish (1998), set a record as the longest-running No. 1 R&B single in the US, staying atop the Billboard R&B Singles chart for 14 weeks. She has had six top 20 Billboard R&B singles and 13 No. 1 hits on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart. She has received multiple Juno Awards and Grammy Award nominations and has appeared as an actor in film and television and on Broadway. In 2022, she became the first Black woman and only the second Black Canadian (after Oscar Peterson) to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

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Indigenous Peoples and the Second World War

In 1939, Canada found itself at war for the second time in a generation. As in the First World War (1914-18), thousands of Indigenous soldiers and nurses volunteered for the war effort at home and abroad, serving with distinction in the Canadian army, navy, and air force. At least 4,250 First Nations soldiers enlisted in the Canadian military in the Second World War, with thousands more Métis, Inuit, and non-Status Indian soldiers serving without official recognition of their Indigenous identity.

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Indigenous Peoples and the First World War

Indigenous soldiers, nurses, and ordinary civilians made a major contribution to Canada’s First World War effort. More than 4,000 First Nations soldiers fought for Canada during the war, officially recorded by the Department of Indian Affairs (see Federal Departments of Indigenous and Northern Affairs). In addition, thousands more non-Status Indians, Inuit, and Métis soldiers enlisted without official recognition of their Indigenous identity. More than 50 Indigenous soldiers were decorated for bravery in action, including the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) soldier Francis Pegahmagabow, Inuit soldier John Shiwak, and Cree soldier Henry Norwest.

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Indigenous Peoples and the World Wars

Thousands of Indigenous peoples served in the Canadian military forces in the First World War and Second World War; most were volunteers. On the home front, most Indigenous communities participated in the national war effort in diverse ways. The world wars were dramatic events for Indigenous peoples in Canada (see Indigenous Peoples and the First World War and Indigenous Peoples and the Second World War). Conflict offered these marginalized populations opportunities to renew warrior cultural traditions, reaffirm sacred treaties, prove their worth to indifferent non-Indigenous Canadians, break down social barriers and find good jobs.

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Marcelle Ferron

Marcelle Ferron, OQ, artist (born 29 January 1924 in Louiseville, QC; died 18 November 2001 in Montreal). Marcelle Ferron was an active participant in Les Automatistes, led by Paul-Émile Borduas. She pursued an innovative artistic career including noteworthy public art works in stained glass. She was made a Knight of the National Order of Québec in 1985 and was promoted to Grand Officer in 2000. She was the sister of writers Jacques Ferron and Madeleine Ferron.

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Serena Ryder

Serena Ryder, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, mental health advocate (born 8 December 1982 in Millbrook, ON). Folk-rock singer-songwriter Serena Ryder is known for her raspy, soulful vocals and raw, emotional lyrics. She first gained attention with her gold-certified albums If Your Memory Serves You Well (2006) and Is It O.K. (2008). She won the Juno Award for New Artist of the Year in 2008 and achieved international stardom with her fifth album, Harmony (2012), and her smash hit “Stompa,” which went triple platinum in Canada. She has won a Canadian Screen Award, a MuchMusic Video Award, a SOCAN Award and seven Juno Awards, including Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year in 2014. She received the Allan Slaight Music Impact Honour from Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2021.

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Cougar Annie

Ada Annie Rae-Arthur (née Jordan), (a.k.a. Cougar Annie), pioneer, businesswoman (born 19 June 1888 in Sacramento, California; died 28 April 1985 in Port Alberni, BC). Ada Rae-Arthur was a pioneer who cleared approximately 5 acres (2 hectares) of land along the northern shore of Clayoquot Sound, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She ran a successful nursery, post office and general store from her homestead. There, she birthed 11 children, outlived four husbands and became known for allegedly shooting and killing about 70 cougars in her lifetime. Today, Cougar Annie’s Garden is owned and operated by the Boat Basin Foundation to preserve her legacy and promote natural history.

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Coeur de pirate

Béatrice Martin (a.k.a. Cœur de pirate), writer, composer, singer, lyricist, pianist (born 22 September 1989, in Montreal, QC). Winner of several Félix Awards, including New Artist of the Year in 2009 and Most Famous Quebec Artist outside Quebec in 2012, Cœur de pirate has made their mark with the Quebec public and French. After the release of their bilingual album Roses in 2015, Cœur de pirate's fame spread across English-speaking Canada, the United States and several European countries.

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David Milgaard Case

David Milgaard was a 16-year-old hippie when he was charged with the rape and murder of Saskatoon nurse Gail Miller in 1969. Milgaard's prosecution for first degree murder at age 17 became one of Canada's most notorious wrongful convictions. He was finally released in 1992 after 23 years in prison. DNA evidence exonerated him in 1997 and led to the conviction of Larry Fisher, a serial sex offender, in 1999. Milgaard received an official apology from the Saskatchewan government in 1997 and a $10 million settlement in 1999. Milgaard became an advocate for prison reform and the rights of the accused and helped establish a federal commission to investigate cases of alleged wrongful conviction.

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Albert Jackson

Albert Jackson, letter carrier (born c. 1857–58 in Delaware; died 14 January 1918 in Toronto, ON). Albert Jackson is thought to be the first Black letter carrier in Canada (see Postal System). Jackson was born into enslavement in the United States, and escaped to Canada with his mother and siblings when he was a toddler in 1858. In 1882, Jackson was hired as a letter carrier in Toronto, but his co-workers refused to train him on the job. While his story was debated in the press for weeks, the Black community in Toronto organized in support of Jackson, meeting with Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald to have Jackson reinstated. Jackson returned to his post days later and served as a letter carrier for almost 36 years.

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London Township Treaty (No. 6)

The London Township Treaty of 1796 (also known as Treaty 6 in the Upper Canada treaties numbering system) was an early land agreement between First Nations and British authorities in Upper Canada (later Ontario). It was one of a series of Upper Canada Land Surrenders. The London Township Treaty encompassed a tract of land 12 miles square (about 31 kilometres square) in the southwestern part of the colony. The British originally purchased it as the location to establish the capital of the colony, but York (modern Toronto) became the capital instead. (See also Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

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Doug Cooper (Primary Source)

"So you know, we’d spend a whole day up at the front and get shelled the odd time and they’d tell you to get down or get into bunker or do something, get out of the road mainly because they wanted to fight, so you got out of their road."