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Social History

Social history is a way of looking at how a society organizes itself and how this changes over time. The elements that make up Canada’s social history include climate and geography, as well as the transition to industrialization and urbanization.

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Cannabis Legalization in Canada

Cannabis, also known as marijuana (among countless other names), is a psychoactive intoxicant that was banned in Canada from 1923 until medical cannabis became legal in 2001. The consumption and sale of recreational cannabis was legalized and regulated on 17 October 2018, after Parliament passed Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act. Legalization was supported by a majority of Canadians, despite concerns about the drug’s addictiveness and health effects, especially among young people.

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Alfred Kunz

Alfred Leopold Kunz, composer, conductor, administrator (born 26 May 1929 in Neudorf, SK; died 16 January 2019 in Kitchener-Waterloo, ON). Alfred Kunz studied composition and conducting 1949–55 at the RCMT and for several summers in the 1960s with Stockhausen and others in Europe. In 1965 he completed the state examinations in choral conducting at the Musikhochschule in Mainz and was assistant conductor of the Mainz City Opera Theatre. He began teaching in Kitchener, Ontario, in 1955. He organized the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Orchestra and Choir in 1959 and was organist-choirmaster 1959-64 at Mount Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church.

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Simon Streatfeild

Simon Nicholas Streatfeild, conductor, violist (born 5 October 1929 in Windsor, England; died 7 December 2019). Simon Streatfeild was an accomplished violist and conductor. He began his career in his native England with London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sadler’s Wells Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. He also helped found the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields chamber orchestra. He moved to Canada in 1965 and held many positions with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra while also conducting across Canada and internationally. He was a founding member of the Baroque Strings of Vancouver, the founding director of the Courtenay Youth Music Camp, and a founding member of the Purcell String Quartet. In his later years, Streatfeild served as principal guest conductor and artistic advisor of Orchestra London Canada, Symphony Nova Scotia, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra. He received the Canadian Music Council Medal in 1987 and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.

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George Weston Limited

George Weston Limited is one of North America’s largest processors and distributors of food. The company operates three subsidiaries: Loblaw Companies Limited, a grocery, drugstore and general retailer; Weston Foods, a baking company; and Choice Properties, a real estate investment trust. George Weston Ltd. owns a variety of brands and retail banners. Weston Foods includes Wonder, D’Italiano and Country Harvest and Loblaw brands include No Name, President’s Choice, Life Brand and Joe Fresh. Loblaw stores include Loblaws, Zehrs, Your Independent Grocer, Provigo, Atlantic Superstore, Fortinos, Dominion, Independent City Market, Valu-mart, ARZ Bakery, Wholesale Club, T&T Supermarket, Real Canadian Liquorstore, Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills, Maxi, Extra Foods and Shoppers Drug Mart. In 2018, George Weston Ltd. registered $48.6 billion in revenue and $530 million in profit and held assets valued at $43.8 billion. George Weston Ltd. is the country’s largest private-sector employer, with 203,238 full- and part-time employees as of 2018. It is a public company headquartered in Toronto and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol WN.

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Natural Resources in Canada

Natural resources are aspects of the natural environment from which goods and services can be obtained and produced. They include air, sunlight, water, land, vegetation, animal life and geological resources. People can also value natural resources for their own sake or for their aesthetic qualities. Humans must manage natural resources to sustain the benefits they offer.

Canada is among the most resource-rich countries in the world. Its large and varied natural resources are essential to its economies and cultures. But there are ongoing debates about how to use, share and manage natural resources.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Great Fire of Toronto (1904)

On 19 April 1904, a fire swept through 20 acres of Toronto’s industrial core. By the time firefighters contained it, the blaze had destroyed at least 98 buildings. The fire incurred around $10 million in losses and left thousands unemployed. One person died in its aftermath. The disaster is known as the Great Fire of Toronto or the Second Great Fire of Toronto (the first major fire occurred in 1849). It exposed the city’s need for safer building codes and a high-pressure water system.

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Capitalism in Canada

Capitalism is an economic system in which private owners control a country’s trade and business sector for their personal profit. It contrasts with communism, in which property effectively belongs to the state (see also Marxism). Canada has a “mixed” economy, positioned between these extremes. The three levels of government decide how to allocate much of the country’s wealth through taxing and spending.

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Vladimir Orloff

Vladimir (Vadim) Orloff (Orlov), cellist, teacher (born 26 May 1928 in Odessa; died 1 April 2019); naturalized Canadian 1977; first prize (Bucharest Cons) 1947.

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Oscar Peterson

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, CC, CQ, OOnt, jazz pianist, composer, educator (born 15 August 1925 in Montréal, QC; died 23 December 2007 in Mississauga, ON). Oscar Peterson is one of Canada’s most honoured musicians. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. He was renowned for his remarkable speed and dexterity, meticulous and ornate technique, and dazzling, swinging style. He earned the nicknames “the brown bomber of boogie-woogie” and “master of swing.” A prolific recording artist, he typically released several albums a year from the 1950s until his death. He also appeared on more than 200 albums by other artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong, who called him “the man with four hands.” His sensitivity in these supporting roles, as well as his acclaimed compositions such as Canadiana Suite and “Hymn to Freedom,” was overshadowed by his stunning virtuosity as a soloist. Also a noted jazz educator and advocate for racial equality, Peterson won a Juno Award and eight Grammy Awards, including one for lifetime achievement. The first recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the International Jazz Hall of Fame. He was also made an Officer and then Companion of the Order of Canada, and an Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters in France, among many other honours.

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Natural Gas in Canada

Natural gas ranks among the fastest-growing energy sources in Canada and is seen by many in the energy industry as a game-changer, a comparatively clean, low-cost and versatile fuel. It can directly generate power and heat and can be chemically altered to produce a wide range of useful commodity chemicals. It burns cleaner and more efficiently than other fossil fuels, releasing significantly fewer harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. Natural gas is colorless, odourless, shapeless, lighter than air and contains a mixture of several hydrocarbon gases, which are organic compounds consisting of some combination of hydrogen and carbon molecules.

The primary consumers of natural gas are the industrial (54.1 per cent), residential (26.6 per cent) and commercial sectors (19.3 per cent). Canada is the fifth largest natural gas producer after the United States, Russia, Iran and Qatar. Currently, all of Canada’s natural gas exports go to the United States through a network of pipelines, making Canada the largest foreign source of US natural gas imports. At the end of 2016, Canada had 76.7 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves and had produced 152 billion cubic metres of natural gas that year. It is forecasted that global natural gas consumption will double by 2035.

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Canopy Growth Corporation

Canopy Growth Corporation was the first cannabis company in North America to be federally regulated and publicly traded. The Canadian company, headquartered in Smiths Falls, Ontario, produces a large portion of Canada’s legal cannabis flower, oils and edibles under its various brands. Its products are sold in all 13 Canadian provinces and territories. With more than two dozen subsidiaries and operations on five continents, Canopy is one of the world’s largest cannabis and hemp corporations. It employs 2,700 people full-time and is worth more than $20 billion.