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Economic History of Canada

The economic history of what is now Canada begins with the hunting, farming and trading societies of the Indigenous peoples. Following the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, the economy has undergone a series of seismic shifts, marked by the early Atlantic fishery, the transcontinental fur trade, then rapid urbanization, industrialization and technological change. Although different industries have come and gone, Canada’s reliance on natural resources — from fur to timber to minerals to oil, and on export markets for these commodities, particularly the United States — has underpinned much of the economy through the centuries and does so still in many regions today.

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Monetary Policy

Monetary policy refers to government measures taken to affect financial markets and credit conditions, for the purpose of influencing the behaviour of the economy. In Canada, monetary policy is the responsibility of the Bank of Canada, a federal crown corporation that implements its decisions through manipulation of the money supply.

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Fruit Cultivation

Fruit growing is an important part of Canada’s food industry. Growing is usually restricted to areas where winter temperatures do not go much below -20°C.

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Chapters Bid

Inside the Toronto mansion of Heather Reisman and Gerry Schwartz, venue of glittering parties featuring Canada's cultural and political elite, the library is one of the most popular rooms. In among the shelves of literature, art books and countless tomes by Winston Churchill and about John F.

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De Havilland Beaver

De Havilland Beaver, DHC-2, successor to the Noorduyn Norseman, was the all-purpose bush plane of the Canadian North. The Beaver was sturdy, reliable and able to take off and land on short lengths of land, water and snow. It has been called the best bush plane ever built. While de Havilland produced it for only 20 years — from 1947 to 1967 — many Beaver planes still fly today. The Beaver helped connect communities in remote areas of Canada, in addition to serving across the globe.

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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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Industry in Canada

Industry, in its broadest sense, includes all economic activity, but for convenience commentators divide it into three sectors: primary, secondary and tertiary.

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Construction Industry

Construction is one of Canada’s largest and most important industries. From houses to skyscrapers, schools, hospitals, factories and shopping centres, construction also involves a wide variety of engineering projects including highways, nuclear power stations, dams, dredging, petrochemical plants and pipelines.

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CP Rail Leaves Montreal

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on December 4, 1995. Partner content is not updated.

Ever since the first CP train pulled out of Montreal on June 28, 1886, bound for the new province of British Columbia, Canadian Pacific has played a dominant role in the nation's corporate mythology. And so last week, when CP Ltd.

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Rogers Cable Apologizes

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on January 16, 1995. Partner content is not updated.

It may well go down as one of the rockiest product launches in the history of Canadian television. On Jan. 1, cable companies across the country began offering their 7.5 million subscribers seven new Canadian-owned specialty channels.

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Prohibition in Canada

Prohibition in Canada came about as a result of the temperance movement. It called for moderation or total abstinence from alcohol, based on the belief that drinking was responsible for many of society’s ills. The Canada Temperance Act (Scott Act) of 1878 gave local governments the “local option” to ban the sale of alcohol. Prohibition was first enacted on a provincial basis in Prince Edward Island in 1901. It became law in the remaining provinces, as well as in Yukon and Newfoundland, during the First World War. Liquor could be legally produced in Canada (but not sold there) and legally exported out of Canadian ports. Most provincial laws were repealed in the 1920s. PEI was the last to give up the “the noble experiment” in 1948.  

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Robotics in Canada

Robotics is the branch of engineering that concerns robots: reprogrammable, multifunction manipulators designed to move objects and complete tasks through a variety of programmed motions. The field includes the conception, design, manufacture and operation of such machines. Robotics overlaps with a variety of other electronic and engineering disciplines including artificial intelligence (AI), bioengineering, computer science, mechatronics (the engineering of both electrical and mechanical systems) and nanotechnology. In the late 20th century, Canada distinguished itself in the field with the development of the Canadarm for space missions. Despite the challenges of competing in the international market, Canadian companies, institutes and researchers are now world leaders in the development of AI applications for robotics.