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Constitution Act, 1867

The Constitution Act, 1867 was originally known as the British North America Act (BNA Act). It was the law passed by the British Parliament on 29 March 1867 to create the Dominion of Canada. It came into effect on 1 July 1867. The Act is the foundational document of Canada’s Constitution. It outlines the structure of government in Canada and the distribution of powers between the central Parliament and the provincial legislatures. It was renamed the Constitution Act, 1867with the patriation of the Constitution in 1982.

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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).

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Peace and Friendship Treaties

Between 1725 and 1779, Britain signed a series of treaties with various Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), Abenaki, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy peoples living in parts of what are now the Maritimes and Gaspé region in Canada and the northeastern United States. Commonly known as the Peace and Friendship Treaties, these agreements were chiefly designed to prevent war between enemies and to facilitate trade. While these treaties contained no monetary or land transfer provisions, they guaranteed hunting, fishing and land-use rights for the descendants of the Indigenous signatories. The Peace and Friendship Treaties remain in effect today.

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Seigneurial System

The seigneurial system was an institutional form of land distribution established in New France in 1627 and officially abolished in 1854. In New France, 80 per cent of the population lived in rural areas governed by this system of land distribution and occupation.

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Voting Rights in Canada

The struggle for voting rights is the struggle for human rights. Historically, governments have given the right to vote to the people who they’ve valued the most. Typically, this included only a select few. The majority of the population had to fight for their right to vote — a right that, once earned, could be taken away. 

The story of the right to vote in Canada is complex. Provincial and federal franchise regulations varied widely. This timeline provides an overview of voting rights in Canada.

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Arms Control and Disarmament

Since the 19th century, world powers have discussed arms control and disarmament — that is, reducing, limiting or abolishing certain weapons. They believe that to avoid war, weapons should be reduced in number or eliminated. Countries have sought to ban particularly destructive and inhumane weapons. These include weapons of mass destruction, like chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. (See Canada and Gas Warfare; Canada and Nuclear Weapons.) Conventional arms, like anti-personnel land mines or cluster munitions, have also been controlled. Canada notably led talks on banning the use of land mines. (See Ottawa Treaty.) Canada is a signatory of multiple other arms control treaties, like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

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Ross Rifle

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.

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Manicouagan Reservoir

The Manicouagan Reservoir, 1,942 km2, elevation 360 m, is located in southeastern Quebec, about 140 km from the Labrador border. The second-largest natural lake in Quebec, it was created by a meteorite millions of years ago. The name “Manicouagan” is possibly of Innu origin and might mean “where there is bark” (for canoe making). The lake appears on Jonathan Carver’s map of Quebec (1776) as Lake Asturagamicook, and is shown to be drained by the Manicouagan or Black River.

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Sikhism in Canada

Sikhism, a major world religion, arose through the teachings of Guru Nanak (circa 1469–1539) in the Punjab region of India. There are about 27 million Sikhs worldwide, making Sikhism the fifth largest religion. Sikhs (disciple or "learner of truth"), like Jews, are distinguished both as a religion and as an ethnic group. Though in principle universalistic and open to converts regardless of background, Sikhism has been identified primarily with Punjabi people, events and culture.

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BlackBerry Limited

BlackBerry Limited (formerly Research In Motion) is a mobile communications company. Founded in 1984 by Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin in Waterloo, Ontario, the company released its first device — a pager capable of email — in 1999. Following the release of its first smartphone in 2002, BlackBerrys quickly became must-have pieces of technology, first among business people and later the general public. However, in the early 2010s they struggled to keep pace with the competitive smartphone market. In 2016, the company announced it would outsource all hardware production to other companies, instead focusing on software development. Today, BlackBerry is credited with putting Waterloo on the map as an innovation hub. The business trades under the ticker BB on the Toronto Stock Exchange and BBRY on NASDAQ.

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Early-Warning Radar

Air-defence radar stations were first established in Canada along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts in 1942, but were dismantled following the defeat of Germany and Japan in 1945.

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CFB Cornwallis (HMCS Cornwallis)

HMCS Cornwallis was established as a training centre for members of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS) during the Second World War. Although it closed in 1946, it resumed operations as a training centre in 1949. After unification of the Canadian armed forces in 1968, it was renamed CFB Cornwallis and became the English-language training centre for recruits from all elements (sea, land and air). The base was decommissioned in 1995. More than 500,000 members of the Canadian armed forces trained at HMCS/CFB Cornwallis.

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Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that impacts the body’s central nervous system. As of September 2020 an estimated 2.8 million people are living with MS worldwide. Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world with over 90,000 Canadians living with the disease. There is no known cure for MS, but treatments can help address symptoms and slow the progression of the disease.

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Canada and the Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis lasted from 16 to 28 October 1962. The Soviet Union had stationed nuclear missiles in Cuba, which posed a threat to the United States and Canada. It brought the world to the edge of nuclear war. Canadian armed forces were placed on heightened alert. Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s hesitant response to the crisis soured already tense relations between Canada and the US and led to the downfall of his government in 1963.

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Muskellunge

Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), large, predaceous, soft-rayed freshwater fish occurring naturally only in eastern North America.

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Sponsorship Scandal (Adscam)

After a razor-thin majority voted in the 1995 Quebec Referendum for Quebec to stay in Canada, the Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien responded with various initiatives to promote federalism in the province. A sponsorship program began in 1996. Public money was directed from the Department of Public Works and Government Services to private advertising agencies to promote Canada and the federal government at cultural, community and sports events in Quebec. The media began questioning the spending and handling of these contracts. Two auditor general reports and a public inquiry revealed that ad agency executives and Liberal Party officials had corruptly handled more than $300 million; $100 million of which was funnelled from the government to the Liberal Party. Five people were found guilty of fraud. Along with several other issues, the scandal helped lead to the government of Chrétien’s successor, Paul Martin, being reduced to a minority in 2004.  

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Extinct Animals in Canada

As of May 2021, 18 animal species once found in Canada are now extinct, according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The committee’s definition of a wildlife species includes taxonomic categories as well as geographically distinct populations. For example, the Atlantic salmon appears on COSEWIC’s list of at-risk species 15 times, as there are 15 populations of Atlantic salmon in Canada facing different threats to their survival. Similarly, when one of these populations goes extinct — as was the case for Atlantic salmon in Lake Ontario in 1898 — there are specific, cascading effects for the ecosystem that the population belongs to. Communities may lose fishing opportunities and other animals may lose a source of food. Though the Atlantic salmon is an example of a species with populations still observable in the wild, this list of 18 also includes animals that no longer exist anywhere on the planet, such as the sea mink or great auk. The reasons for the extinction of these animals range from overhunting to predation from invasive species to,­ in the case of the Eelgrass limpet, a plight of slime mould.

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Extinct Plants in Canada

There is one plant native to Canada that is extinct. Called Macoun’s shining moss (Neomacounia nitida), this plant grew near Belleville, Ontario. Given the abundance of plant species found in Canada, it’s perhaps surprising that only one is extinct, especially when compared to the number of extinct animals in the country — 18 as of 2021. However, Macoun’s shining moss is likely not the only extinct Canadian plant. It is possible that many more species went extinct before botanists observed and recorded them. Because early settlers were more likely to notice animals and use them for food and economic purposes, their disappearance was better documented. (See also Extinct Animals in Canada.)