Have we read our own authors such as Dionne Brand, Afua Cooper and George Elliott Clarke? Do we know that the story of African-Canadians spans four hundred years, and includes slavery, abolition, pioneering, urban growth, segregation, the civil rights movement and a long engagement in civic life? — Lawrence Hill
France was a colonial power in North America from the early 16th century, the age of European discoveries and fishing expeditions, to the early 19th century, when Napoléon Bonaparte sold Louisiana to the United States. French presence in North America was marked by economic exchanges with Indigenous peoples, but also by conflicts, as the French attempted to control this vast territory. The French colonial enterprise was also spurred by religious motivation as well as the desire to establish an effective colony in the St. Lawrence Valley. From the founding of Québec in 1608 to the ceding of Canada to Britain in 1763, France placed its stamp upon the history of the continent, much of whose lands — including Acadia — lay under its control. Through the use of encyclopedic articles, biographies, exhibits, study guides and searchable timelines, this collection features content related to this history.
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.
Founded in Montréal on 5 September 1837, the Société des Fils de la liberté was a paramilitary group affiliated with the Patriotes, formed in response to growing frustration among the Parti patriote and its supporters that political reform in Lower Canada was taking too long. Their aim was to support and protect the Patriotes. Borrowing their name from the American revolutionary secret society known as the Sons of Liberty, the group included some of the most important members of the party, including Louis-Joseph Papineau and Edmund Bailey O’Callaghan. In Montréal, the group was opposed by the English-speaking paramilitary group the Doric Club, which led to a violent confrontation on 6 November 1837. The group disbanded shortly afterwards and many of its members went on to participate in the Canadian Rebellion.
In late October of 1929, terror seized the stock exchanges of North America. Capitalism’s speculative party, with its galloping share prices and its celebrity millionaires, came to an abrupt stop. The Great Crash, it was called, and it was followed by the Great Depression.
To a tremendous extent, the enslavement of Indigenous peoples defines slavery in Canada. Fully two-thirds of the slaves in the Canadian colony of New France — which held the most slaves and for the longest duration in Canada — were Indigenous. These people were products of the slave trade that developed in the southernmost of Britain’s thirteen colonies during the late 1600s. It was there that settlers turned an Indigenous practice of slavery into a devastating cycle of events that tore apart Indigenous nations and affected all of the European colonies in North America.
The capture of Hill 70 in France was an important Canadian victory during the First World War, and the first major action fought by the Canadian Corps under a Canadian commander. The battle, in August 1917, gave the Allied forces a crucial strategic position overlooking the occupied city of Lens.
The Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, usually shortened to Letters Patent, 1947, was an edict issued by King George VI that expanded the role of the governor general, allowing him or her to exercise prerogatives of the sovereign. While Letters Patent delegated Crown prerogatives to the governor general, the sovereign remains Head of State.
Canada has been involved in various wars from the beginning of its colonial history. Just as the nature of these wars has changed over time, so too has their effect on Canadian women. Women have actively participated in war, from nursing and munitions manufacturing during the First and Second World Wars to the increasing involvement of Canadian women in the military.
It has become common knowledge that the first Thanksgiving in North America was held by Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew in Newfoundland in 1578. There are those — mainly Americans upset by the thought of having their holiday co-opted — who argue that it wasn't a “real” Thanksgiving. I would counter that Frobisher had reason to give thanks, and that giving thanks was an important aspect of Elizabethan society, so it would have been a natural thing for him and his men to do.
Founded in 1779, the North West Company was a major force in the fur trade from the 1780s to 1821. Managed primarily by Highland Scots who migrated to Montréal after 1760, or came as Loyalists escaping the American Revolution, it also drew heavily on French-Canadian labour and experience. The name first described Montréal traders who in 1776 pooled resources to reduce competition among themselves and to resist inland advances of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
The united Province of Canada — a response to the problems and violence that plagued Lower and Upper Canada in the 1830s — was a 26-year experiment in anglophone-francophone political co-operation. During this time responsible government came to British North America, trade and commerce expanded bringing wealth to the region, and Confederation was ultimately born.
Lower Canada is the southern portion of present-day Québec, existing as a separate British province from 1791 to 1840. In 1791 Britain took the decision to divide the Province of Quebec into Upper Canada and Lower Canada. In 1841, Upper Canada and Lower Canada were reunited as a single colony, the Province of Canada.
Representation by Population is a political system in which seats are allocated in the House of Commons on the basis of population. It upholds a fundamental principle of parliamentary democracy that all votes should be counted equally. "Rep by Pop" was the nickname for a deeply divisive issue among politicians in the Province of Canada during colonial times, and became an important consideration in the lead up to Confederation.
Although the Reform (that is to say liberal) Party swept the constituencies like a broom, the principle that the majority party controls parliament was not yet established. Colonial government was still firmly in the grip of the governor, who was appointed by London.
Upper and Lower Canada were thrown into turmoil from 1837–38, when insurgents mounted rebellions in each colony against the Crown and the political status quo. The revolt in Lower Canada was the more serious and violent of the two. However, both events inspired the pivotal Durham Report, which in turn led to the union of the two colonies (see Act of Union) and the arrival of responsible government — critical events on the road to Canadian nationhood.1