"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 Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), chartered 2 May 1670, is the oldest incorporated joint-stock merchandising company in the English-speaking world. HBC was a fur trading business for most of its history, a past that is entwined with the colonization of British North America and the development of Canada. The company now owns and operates department stores in Canada, the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Originally headquartered in London, England, its head offices are located in Brampton, Ontario. HBC is owned by NRDC Equity Partners, an American private investment firm that purchased the company in 2008. HBC currently operates the following retailers: Hudson’s Bay, Home Outfitters, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and Off 5th, Saks’ discount chain. HBC also owns department store chains in Germany (Galeria Kaufhof) and the Netherlands (Vroom & Dreesmann) as well as online retailer Gilt. In 2016, HBC registered $14.4 billion in revenue and held assets valued at $12.2 billion. It is a public company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol HBC.1
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.
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 Prairies, or the Plains, is a vast region of the “western interior” of Canada that is bounded roughly by Lake Superior and the Rocky Mountains, the forty-ninth parallel and the low Arctic. It was peopled in six great waves of immigration, spanning from prehistory to the present. The migration from Asia, about 13,300 years ago, produced an Indigenous population of 20,000 to 50,000 by about 1640. Several thousand European and Canadian fur traders, followed by several hundred British immigrants, arrived between 1640 and 1840, creating dozens of small outposts and a European-style settlement in the Red River Colony, where the Métis became the largest single component of the population. The third wave, from the 1840s to the 1890s, consisted chiefly but not solely of Canadians of British heritage. The fourth and by far the largest was drawn from many nations, mostly European, and occurred from 1897 to 1929, with a pause (1914–22) during and after the First World War. The fifth wave, drawn from other Canadian provinces and from Europe and elsewhere, commenced in the late 1940s and lasted through the 1960s. The sixth wave, beginning in the 1970s, drew especially upon peoples of the southern hemisphere, and has continued, with fluctuations, to the present. Throughout the last century, the region has also steadily lost residents, as a result of migration to other parts of Canada, to the United States, and elsewhere.
Treaty 11 is the last of the Numbered Treaties, signed between First Nations and the Canadian government in 1921. It covers more than 950,000 km2 of present-day Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The terms of Treaty 11 have had ongoing legal and socio-economic impacts on Indigenous communities.
Treaty 10 is the 10th of the 11 Numbered Treaties. It was signed in 1906–07 by the Canadian government and Indigenous peoples in northern Saskatchewan and Alberta. Treaty 10 covers nearly 220,000 km2 of Saskatchewan and Alberta. The terms of Treaty 10 have had ongoing legal and socioeconomic impacts on Indigenous communities.
Treaty 8 was signed on 21 June 1899 by the Crown and First Nations of the Lesser Slave Lake area. The treaty covers roughly 841,487.137 km2 of what was formerly the North-West Territories and British Columbia, and now includes northern Alberta, northwest Saskatchewan, and portions of the modern Northwest Territories and BC, making it the largest treaty by area in the history of Canada. The terms and implementation of Treaty 8 differ importantly from those of previous Numbered Treaties, with long-lasting consequences for the governance and peoples of that area.
Treaty 5 — also known as the Winnipeg Treaty — was signed in 1875–76 by the federal government, Ojibwa peoples and the Swampy Cree of Lake Winnipeg. Treaty 5 covers much of present-day central and northern Manitoba, as well as portions of Saskatchewan and Ontario. The terms of Treaty 5 have had ongoing legal and socioeconomic impacts on Indigenous communities.
Treaty 4 — also known as the Qu'Appelle Treaty — was signed on 15 September 1874 at Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan. The Indigenous signatories include the Cree, Saulteaux bands of the Ojibwa peoples and the Assiniboine. In exchange for payments, provisions and rights to reserve lands, Treaty 4 ceded Indigenous territory to the federal government. The majority of Treaty 4 lands are in present-day southern Saskatchewan. Small portions are in western Manitoba and southern Alberta.
Treaties 1 and 2 were the first of 11 Numbered Treaties negotiated between 1871 and 1921 Treaty 1 was signed 3 August 1871 between Canada and the Anishinabek and Swampy Cree of southern Manitoba. Treaty 2 was signed 21 August 1871 between Canada and the Anishinabe of southern Manitoba.
The Canadian Pacific Railway company was incorporated in 1881. Its original purpose was the construction of a transcontinental railway, a promise to British Columbia upon its entry into Confederation. The railway — completed in 1885 — connected Eastern Canada to BC and played an important role in the development of the nation. Built in dangerous conditions by thousands of labourers (including 15,000 Chinese temporary workers), the railway facilitated communications and transportation across the country. Over its long history, CPR diversified, establishing hotels, shipping lines and airlines, and developed mining and telecommunications industries. In 2001, Canadian Pacific separated into five separate and independent companies, with Canadian Pacific Railway returning to its origins as a railway company. CP, as it is branded today, has over 22,500 km of track across Canada and the United States. It is a public company and trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange under the symbol CP. In 2016, CP had $6.2 billion in revenue and $1.6 billion in profit and held assets valued at $19.2 billion.4
The 36 men traditionally regarded as the Fathers of Confederation were those who represented British North American colonies at one or more of the conferences that led to Confederation on 1 July 1867, including the Charlottetown Conference (September 1864), the Québec Conference (October 1864) and the London Conference (1866–67).1