Portal:History of Canada

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The History of Canada Portal
This is a sister portal of the Canada Portal

Introduction

The history of Canada covers the period from the arrival of Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago to the present day. Prior to European colonization, the lands encompassing present-day Canada were inhabited for millennia by Indigenous peoples, with distinct trade networks, spiritual beliefs, and styles of social organization. Some of these older civilizations had long faded by the time of the first European arrivals and have been discovered through archaeological investigations.

Starting in the late 15th century, French and British expeditions explored, colonized, and fought over various places within North America in what constitutes present-day Canada. The colony of New France was established in 1534 and was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1763 after the French defeat in the Seven Years' War. The now British Province of Quebec was divided into Upper and Lower Canada in 1791 and reunified in 1841. In 1867, the Province of Canada was joined with two other British colonies of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia through Confederation, forming a self-governing entity named Canada. The new dominion expanded by incorporating other parts of British North America, finishing with Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949.

Although responsible government had existed in Canada since 1848, Britain continued to set its foreign and defence policies until the end of the First World War. The passing of the Statute of Westminster in 1931 recognized that Canada had become co-equal with the United Kingdom. After the Constitution was patriated in 1982, the final vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament were removed. Canada currently consists of ten provinces and three territories and is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.

Over centuries, elements of Indigenous, French, British and more recent immigrant customs have combined to form a Canadian culture that has also been strongly influenced by its linguistic, geographic and economic neighbour, the United States. Since the conclusion of the Second World War, Canadians have supported multi-lateralism abroad and socioeconomic development domestically.

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Monument to Multiculturalism, by Francesco Pirelli in Toronto.

Canadian culture is a term that explains the artistic, musical, literary, culinary, political and social elements that are representative of Canada and Canadians, not only to its own population, but people all over the world. Canada's culture has historically been influenced by European culture and traditions, especially British and French. Over time, elements of the cultures of Canada's Aboriginal peoples and immigrant populations have become incorporated into mainstream Canadian culture. It has subsequently been influenced by American culture because of its proximity and migration between the two countries.

Canada is often characterised as being "very progressive, diverse, and multicultural". Canadian Government policies such as; publicly-funded health care, higher and more progressive taxation, outlawing capital punishment, strong efforts to eliminate poverty, an emphasis on cultural diversity, imposing stricter gun control, and most recently legalizing same-sex marriage - are social indicators of how Canada's political and cultural identities differ from that of the United States.Canada's federal government has influenced Canadian culture with programs, laws and institutions. It has created crown corporations to promote Canadian culture through media, such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), and promotes many events which it considers to promote Canadian traditions. It has also tried to protect Canadian culture by setting legal minimums on Canadian content in many media using bodies like the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

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The October Crisis was a series of events triggered by two kidnappings of government officials by members of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) during October 1970 in the province of Quebec. These circumstances ultimately culminated in the only peacetime usage of the War Measures Act in Canada's history, done on the advice of the prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, having been requested by the Premier of Quebec, Robert Bourassa, and the Mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau.

The invocation of the act resulted in widespread deployment of Canadian Forces troops throughout Quebec, and in Ottawa gave the appearance that martial law had been imposed, although the military remained in a support role to the civil authorities of Quebec. The police were also enabled with far-reaching powers, and they arrested and detained, without bail, 497 individuals, all but 62 of whom were later released without charges.

At the time, opinion polls throughout Canada, including in Quebec, showed widespread support for the use of the War Measures Act. The response, however, was criticized at the time and subsequently by a number of prominent leaders, including René Lévesque, Robert Stanfield, who believed the actions to be excessive and the precedent to suspend civil liberties dangerous. The criticism was reinforced by evidence that police officials had abused their powers and detained, without cause, prominent artists and intellectuals associated with the sovereignty movement.

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Agnes Macphail - PA-165870.jpg
Agnes Campbell Macphail (March 24, 1890 – February 13, 1954) was the first woman to be elected to the Canadian House of Commons, and one of the first two women elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Active throughout her life in progressive Canadian politics, Macphail worked for two separate parties and promoted her ideas through column-writing, activist organizing, and legislation.

As a radical member of the Progressive Party, Macphail joined the socialist Ginger Group, faction of the Progressive Party that later led to the formation of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). She became the first president of the Ontario CCF in 1932. However, she left the CCF in 1934 when the United Farmers of Ontario pulled out due to fears of Communist influence in the Ontario CCF. While Macphail was no longer formally a CCF member, she remained close to the CCF MPs and often participated in caucus meetings. The CCF did not run candidates against Macphail in her three subsequent federal campaigns.

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History of Canada category

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CN Tower footings 1973.jpg
CN Tower in its initial construction phase "Tower footings", 1973

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  • ...that Canadian agronomist Seager Wheeler was instrumental in developing a sustainable agricultural economy in Saskatchewan, which has a short prairie growing season and harsh winters? Read More...,

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View of Toronto skyline from the roof of the new MacLean Building, University Avenue and Dundas Street W. 1930.
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