On 17 May 1642, a group of French settlers led by Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance established the missionary colony of Ville-Marie on the Island of Montréal. Today, this modest settlement founded in the middle of the St. Lawrence River is Canada’s second largest city and home to nearly half of the province of Québec’s population. A centre of francophone culture in North America, Montréal also enjoys international renown. Through exhibits, images and articles — as well as several Heritage Minutes about influential Montrealers — this collection celebrates the 375-year heritage and history of this important cultural and economic centre.
For Canada, Asia does not exist “over there.” It is, has been, and will continue to be, right here, contributing to and shaping our country. Canada’s citizenry includes over 6.7 million people — 20 percent of the population — who were born outside Canada. Recent immigrants to this country are more likely to have come from Asia and the Middle East than from Europe (Census of Canada, 2011).
The National Flag of Canada, also known as the Canadian Flag or the Maple Leaf Flag (l'Unifolié in French), consists of a red field with a white square at its centre atop of which sits a stylized, 11-pointed red maple leaf. A joint committee of the Senate and House of Commons voted for the present flag in 1964 against formidable odds. After months of debate, the final design, adopted by Parliament and approved by royal proclamation, became Canada's flag on 15 February 1965.
The welcoming and resettlement of many thousands of refugees from Southeast Asia in the late 1970s and early 1980s represents a turning point in the history of immigration in Canada. It was the first time that the Canadian government applied its new program for private sponsorship of refugees — the only one if its kind in the world — through which more than half of the Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian refugees who came to Canada during this period were admitted. In recognition of this unprecedented mobilization of private effort, the people of Canada were awarded the Nansen Medal, an honour bestowed by the United Nations for outstanding service to the cause of refugees. It was the first and remains the only time that the entire people of a country have been collectively honored with this award. But most importantly, this positive, humanitarian response by Canadians reflected a change in their attitude toward refugees. Never before in its history had Canada welcomed so many refugees in so little time.
On 24 February 2010, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown, officially apologized for a program that the British government put in place in the 19th century to send large numbers of children as emigrants to various British colonies, including Canada. Media reports of this apology took many people in Britain and Canada by surprise. They had no idea that such an event had taken place in their two countries’ histories.
The Last Spike was the final and ceremonial railway spike driven into the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) track by company director Donald Smith on the morning of 7 November 1885. The ceremony marked the completion of the transcontinental CPR and was a muted affair at which a group of company officials and labourers gathered at Craigellachie near Eagle Pass in the interior of British Columbia. One of about 30 million iron spikes used in the construction of the line, the Last Spike came to symbolize more than the completion of a railway. Contemporaries and historians have viewed the Last Spike — as well as the iconic photographs of the event — as a moment when national unity was realized.
During the golden summer of 1908, Canadians celebrated the 300th anniversary of the founding of Québec with a public spectacle rarely rivaled for scale or theatricality since. Then, as now, there were those who wanted to conflate the founding of Québec with the birth of Canada.
On 25 July 2014, Canada marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, one of the bloodiest battles of the War of 1812. The first milestone commemoration was held in 1914, when, just days before the start of the First World War, crowds of people gathered to celebrate 100 years of peace.