top of page
Search

Celebrating Canadian Heritage


On July 1, 1867, the British North Americas Act created the Dominion of Canada as a federation of four provinces. This event is known as the confederation of Canada. The four original provinces were created from the former British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada, which was divided into the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. Canada's boundaries have been extended since 1867. The country now consists of 10 provinces and three territories. On June 20, 1868, the Canada's Governor General proclaimed that Canadians should celebrate the anniversary of the confederation. July 1 became a holiday, known as Dominion Day, in 1879. However, no official celebrations were held until the 50th anniversary in 1917 and the 60th anniversary in 1927. After World War II, Dominion Day was celebrated more frequently and more events were organized by the national government. After the centenary of the confederation in 1967, Dominion Day events became more widespread. July 1 became popularly known as Canada Day. The date was also officially known as Canada Day from 1983 onwards. Since 2006 Canada Day celebrations were also held at London's Trafalgar Square in the United Kingdom. It is expected that these celebrations will be held annually. Depending on the availability of Trafalgar Square, these events may be held just before, on or just after July 1.

 

So What is Canadian Heritage?

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 claimed in 1534 with permanent settlements beginning in 1608. France ceded nearly all its North American possessions 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 country 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 defense 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 neighbor, the United States. Since the conclusion of the Second World War, Canadians have supported multilateral-ism abroad and socioeconomic development domestically.

Pre-colonization

Indigenous peoples

The Great Lakes are estimated to have been formed at the end of the last glacial period (about 10,000 years ago), when the Lauren tide ice sheet receded. Archaeological and Indigenous genetic evidence indicate that North and South America were the last continents into which humans migrated. During the Wisconsin glaciation, 50,000–17,000 years ago, falling sea levels allowed people to move gradually across the Bering land bridge (Beringia), from Siberia into northwest North America. At that point, they were blocked by the Laurentide ice sheet that covered most of Canada, confining them to Alaska and the Yukon for thousands of years. The exact dates and routes of the peopling of the Americas are the subject of an ongoing debate.By 16,000 years ago the glacial melt allowed people to move by land south and east out of Beringia, and into Canada. The Haida Gwaii islands, Old Crow Flats, and the Bluefish Caves contain some of the earliest Paleo-Indian archaeological sites in Canada. Ice Age hunter-gatherers of this period left lithic flake fluted stone tools and the remains of large butchered mammals.The North American climate stabilized around 8000 BCE (10,000 years ago). Climatic conditions were similar to modern patterns; however, the receding glacial ice sheets still covered large portions of the land, creating lakes of meltwater. Most population groups during the Archaic periods were still highly mobile hunter-gatherers. However, individual groups started to focus on resources available to them locally; thus with the passage of time, there is a pattern of increasing regional generalization (i.e.: Paleo-Arctic, Plano and Maritime Archaictraditions).

The Woodland cultural period dates from about 2000 BCE to 1000 CE and is applied to the Ontario, Quebec, and Maritime regions. The introduction of pottery distinguishes the Woodland culture from the previous Archaic-stage inhabitants. The Laurentian-related people of Ontario manufactured the oldest pottery excavated to date in Canada.

The Hopewell tradition is an Indigenous culture that flourished along American rivers from 300 BCE to 500 CE. At its greatest extent, the Hopewell Exchange System connected cultures and societies to the peoples on the Canadian shores of Lake Ontario. Canadian expression of the Hopewellian peoples encompasses the Point Peninsula, Saugeen, and Laurel complexes.The eastern woodland areas of what became Canada were home to the Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples. The Algonquian language is believed to have originated in the western plateau of Idaho or the plains of Montana and moved with migrants eastward, eventually extending in various manifestations all the way from Hudson Bay to what is today Nova Scotia in the east and as far south as the Tidewater region of Virginia.

European contact

The Norse, who had settled Greenland and Iceland, arrived around the year 1000 and built a small settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows at the northernmost tip of Newfoundland (carbon dating estimate 990 – 1050 CE). L'Anse aux Meadows, the only confirmed Norse site in North America outside of Greenland, is also notable for its connection with the attempted settlement of Vinland by Leif Erikson around the same period or, more broadly, with Norse exploration of the Americas.

Under letters patent from King Henry VII of England, the Italian John Cabot became the first European known to have landed in Canada after the Viking Age. Records indicate that on 24 June 1497 he sighted land at a northern location believed to be somewhere in the Atlantic provinces. Official tradition deemed the first landing site to be at Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland, although other locations are possible. After 1497 Cabot and his son Sebastian Cabot continued to make other voyages to find the Northwest Passage, and other explorers continued to sail out of England to the New World, although the details of these voyages are not well recorded.

Based on the Treaty of Tordesillas, the Spanish Crown claimed it had territorial rights in the area visited by John Cabot in 1497 and 1498 CE. However, Portuguese explorers like João Fernandes Lavrador would continue to visit the north Atlantic coast, which accounts for the appearance of "Labrador" on maps of the period. In 1501 and 1502 the Corte-Real brothers explored Newfoundland (Terra Nova) and Labrador claiming these lands as part of the Portuguese Empire. In 1506, King Manuel I of Portugal created taxes for the cod fisheries in Newfoundland waters. João Álvares Fagundes and Pêro de Barcelos established fishing outposts in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia around 1521 CE; however, these were later abandoned, with the Portuguese colonizers focusing their efforts on South America. The extent and nature of Portuguese activity on the Canadian mainland during the 16th century remains unclear and controversial.

Canada under French rule

French interest in the New World began with Francis I of France, who in 1524 sponsored Giovanni da Verrazzano's navigation of the region between Florida and Newfoundland in hopes of finding a route to the Pacific Ocean. Although the English had laid claims to it in 1497 when John Cabot made landfall somewhere on the North American coast (likely either modern-day Newfoundland or Nova Scotia) and had claimed the land for England on behalf of King Henry VII, these claims were not exercised and England did not attempt to create a permanent colony. As for the French, however, Jacques Cartier planted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula in 1534 and claimed the land in the name of Francis I, creating a region called "Canada" the following summer. Permanent settlement attempts by Cartier at Charlesbourg-Royal in 1541, at Sable Island in 1598 by Marquis de La Roche-Mesgouez, and at Tadoussac, Quebec in 1600 by François Gravé Du Pontall eventually failed. Despite these initial failures, French fishing fleets visited the Atlantic coast communities and sailed into the St. Lawrence River, trading and making alliances with First Nations, as well as establishing fishing settlements such as in Percé (1603). As a result of France's claim and activities in the colony of Canada, the name Canada was found on international maps showing the existence of this colony within the St. Lawrence river region.

In 1604, a North American fur trade monopoly was granted to Pierre Du Gua, Sieur de Mons. The fur trade became one of the main economic ventures in North America. Du Gua led his first colonization expedition to an island located near the mouth of the St. Croix River. Among his lieutenants was a geographer named Samuel de Champlain, who promptly carried out a major exploration of the northeastern coastline of what is now the United States. In the spring of 1605, under Samuel de Champlain, the new St. Croix settlement was moved to Port Royal (today's Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia). Samuel de Champlain also landed at Saint John Harbour on June 24, 1604 (the feast of St. John the Baptist) and is where the city of Saint John, New Brunswick, and the Saint John River gets its name.

In 1608 Champlain founded what is now Quebec City, one of the earliest permanent settlements, which would become the capital of New France. He took personal administration over the city and its affairs, and sent out expeditions to explore the interior. Champlain became the first known European to encounter Lake Champlain in 1609. By 1615, he had travelled by canoe up the Ottawa River through Lake Nipissing and Georgian Bay to the centre of Huron country near Lake Simcoe. During these voyages, Champlain aided the Wendat(aka "Hurons") in their battles against the Iroquois Confederacy. As a result, the Iroquois would become enemies of the French and be involved in multiple conflicts (known as the French and Iroquois Wars) until the signing of the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701.

The English, led by Humphrey Gilbert, had claimed St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1583 as the first North American English colony by royal prerogative of Queen Elizabeth I. In the reign of King James I, the English established additional colonies in Cupids and Ferryland, Newfoundland, and soon after established the first successful permanent settlements of Virginia to the south. On September 29, 1621, a charter for the foundation of a New World Scottish colony was granted by King James to Sir William Alexander. In 1622, the first settlers left Scotland. They initially failed and permanent Nova Scotian settlements were not firmly established until 1629 during the end of the Anglo-French War. These colonies did not last long except the fisheries in Ferryland under Sir David Kirke. In 1631, under Charles I of England, the Treaty of Suza was signed, ending the war and returning Nova Scotia to the French. New France was not fully restored to French rule until the 1632 Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. This led to new French immigrants and the founding of Trois-Rivières in 1634.

Following the establishment of Quebec and then Trois-Rivières, coureurs des bois and voyageurs spread quickly through the many rivers and lakes to trade with local First Nations.

During this period, in contrast to the higher density and slower moving agricultural settlement development by the English inward from the east coast of the colonies, New France's interior frontier eventually covered an immense area with a thin network centered on fur trade, conversion efforts by missionaries, establishing and claiming an empire, and military efforts to protect and further those efforts. The largest of these canoe networks covered much of present-day Canada and central present-day United States.

After Champlain’s death in 1635, the Roman Catholic Church and the Jesuit establishment became the most dominant force in New France and hoped to establish a Utopian European and Aboriginal Christian community. In 1642, the Sulpicians sponsored a group of settlers led by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, who founded Ville-Marie, precursor to present-day Montreal. In 1663 the French crown took direct control of the colonies from the Company of New France.

Although immigration rates to New France remained very low under direct French control, most of the new arrivals were farmers, and the rate of population growth among the settlers themselves had been very high. The women had about 30 per cent more children than comparable women who remained in France. Yves Landry says, "Canadians had an exceptional diet for their time." This was due to the natural abundance of meat, fish, and pure water; the good food conservation conditions during the winter; and an adequate wheat supply in most years. The 1666 census of New France was conducted by France's intendant, Jean Talon, in the winter of 1665–1666. The census showed a population count of 3,215 Acadians and habitants (French-Canadian farmers) in the administrative districts of Acadia and Canada. The census also revealed a great difference in the number of men at 2,034 versus 1,181 women.

Wars during the colonial era

By the early 1700s the New France settlers were well established along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River and parts of Nova Scotia, with a population around 16,000. However new arrivals stopped coming from France in the proceeding decades, resulting in the English and Scottish settlers in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and the southern Thirteen Colonies to vastly outnumber the French population approximately ten to one by the 1750s. From 1670, through the Hudson's Bay Company, the English also laid claim to Hudson Bay and its drainage basin known as Rupert's Land establishing new trading posts and forts, while continuing to operate fishing settlements in Newfoundland. French expansion along the Canadian canoe routes challenged the Hudson's Bay Company claims, and in 1686, Pierre Troyesled an overland expedition from Montreal to the shore of the bay, where they managed to capture a handful of outposts. La Salle's explorations gave France a claim to the Mississippi River Valley, where fur trappers and a few settlers set up scattered forts and settlements.

There were four French and Indian Wars and two additional wars in Acadia and Nova Scotia between the Thirteen American Colonies and New France from 1688 to 1763. During King William's War (1688 to 1697), military conflicts in Acadia included: Battle of Port Royal (1690); a naval battle in the Bay of Fundy (Action of July 14, 1696); and the Raid on Chignecto (1696) . The Treaty of Ryswick in 1697 ended the war between the two colonial powers of England and France for a brief time. During Queen Anne's War (1702 to 1713), the British Conquest of Acadia occurred in 1710, resulting in Nova Scotia, other than Cape Breton, being officially ceded to the British by the Treaty of Utrecht including Rupert's Land, which France had conquered in the late 17th century (Battle of Hudson's Bay). As an immediate result of this setback, France founded the powerful Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island.

Louisbourg was intended to serve as a year-round military and naval base for France's remaining North American empire and to protect the entrance to the St. Lawrence River. Father Rale's War resulted in both the fall of New France influence in present-day Maine and the British recognition of having to negotiate with the Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia. During King George's War (1744 to 1748), an army of New Englanders led by William Pepperrell mounted an expedition of 90 vessels and 4,000 men against Louisbourg in 1745. Within three months the fortress surrendered. The return of Louisbourg to French control by the peace treaty prompted the British to found Halifax in 1749 under Edward Cornwallis. Despite the official cessation of war between the British and French empires with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle; the conflict in Acadia and Nova Scotia continued on as the Father Le Loutre's War.

The British ordered the Acadians expelled from their lands in 1755 during the French and Indian War, an event called the Expulsion of the Acadians or le Grand Dérangement. The "expulsion" resulted in approximately 12,000 Acadians being shipped to destinations throughout Britain's North America and to France, Quebec and the French Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue. The first wave of the expulsion of the Acadians began with the Bay of Fundy Campaign (1755) and the second wave began after the final Siege of Louisbourg (1758). Many of the Acadians settled in southern Louisiana, creating the Cajun culture there. Some Acadians managed to hide and others eventually returned to Nova Scotia, but they were far outnumbered by a new migration of New England Planters who were settled on the former lands of the Acadians and transformed Nova Scotia from a colony of occupation for the British to a settled colony with stronger ties to New England. Britain eventually gained control of Quebec City and Montreal after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and Battle of Fort Niagara in 1759, and the Battle of the Thousand Islands and Battle of Sainte-Foy in 1760.

Canada under British rule

As part of the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1763), signed after the defeat of New France in the Seven Years' War, France renounced its claims to territory in mainland North America, except for fishing rights off Newfoundland and the two small islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon where its fishermen could dry their fish. France had already secretly transferred its vast Louisiana territory to Spain under the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762) in which King Louis XV of France had given his cousin King Charles III of Spain the entire area of the drainage basin of the Mississippi River from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains. France and Spain kept the Treaty of Fontainebleau secret from other countries until 1764. Britain returned to France its most important sugar-producing colony, Guadeloupe, which the French considered more valuable than Canada. (Guadeloupe produced more sugar than all the British islands combined, and Voltaire had notoriously dismissed Canada as "Quelques arpents de neige", "A few acres of snow").

The new British rulers of Canada abolished and later reinstated most of the property, religious, political, and social culture of the French-speaking habitants, guaranteeing the right of the Canadiens to practice the Catholic faith and to the use of French civil law (now Quebec Civil Code) through the Quebec Act of 1774. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 had been issued in October, by King George III following Great Britain's acquisition of French territory. The proclamation organized Great Britain's new North American empire and stabilized relations between the British Crown and Aboriginal peoples through regulation of trade, settlement, and land purchases on the western frontier.

American Revolution and the Loyalists

During the American Revolution, there was some sympathy for the American cause among the Acadians and the New Englanders in Nova Scotia.[101] Neither party joined the rebels, although several hundred individuals joined the revolutionary cause. An invasion of Quebec by the Continental Army in 1775, with a goal to take Quebec from British control, was halted at the Battle of Quebec by Guy Carleton, with the assistance of local militias. The defeat of the British army during the Siege of Yorktown in October 1781 signaled the end of Britain's struggle to suppress the American Revolution.

When the British evacuated New York City in 1783, they took many Loyalist refugees to Nova Scotia, while other Loyalists went to southwestern Quebec. So many Loyalists arrived on the shores of the St. John River that a separate colony—New Brunswick—was created in 1784; followed in 1791 by the division of Quebec into the largely French-speaking Lower Canada (French Canada) along the St. Lawrence River and Gaspé Peninsula and an anglophone Loyalist Upper Canada, with its capital settled by 1796 in York (present-day Toronto). After 1790 most of the new settlers were American farmers searching for new lands; although generally favorable to republicanism, they were relatively non-political and stayed neutral in the War of 1812. In 1785, Saint John, New Brunswick became the first incorporated city in what would later become Canada.

The signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783 formally ended the war. Britain made several concessions to the Americans at the expense of the North American colonies. Notably, the borders between Canada and the United States were officially demarcated; all land south of the Great Lakes, which was formerly a part of the Province of Quebec and included modern day Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, was ceded to the Americans. Fishing rights were also granted to the United States in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on the coast of Newfoundland and the Grand Banks. The British ignored part of the treaty and maintained their military outposts in the Great Lakes areas it had ceded to the U.S., and they continued to supply their native allies with munitions. The British evacuated the outposts with the Jay Treaty of 1795, but the continued supply of munitions irritated the Americans in the run-up to the War of 1812.

Canadian historians have had mixed views on the long-term impact of the American Revolution. Arthur Lower in the 1950s provided the long-standard historical interpretation that for English Canada the results were counter-revolutionary:

[English Canada] inherited, not the benefits, but the bitterness of the Revolution…. English Canada started its life with as powerful a nostalgic shove backward into the past as the Conquest had given to French Canada: two little peoples officially devoted to counter-revolution, to lost causes, to the tawdry ideals of a society of men and masters, and not to the self-reliant freedom alongside of them.

Recently Michel Ducharme has agreed that Canada did indeed oppose "republican liberty", as exemplified by the United States and France. However he says it did find a different path forward when it fought against British rulers after 1837 to secure "modern liberty". That form of liberty focused not on the virtues of citizens but on protecting their rights from infringement by the state.

War of 1812

The War of 1812 was fought between the United States and the British, with the British North American colonies being heavily involved. Greatly outgunned by the British Royal Navy, the American war plans focused on an invasion of Canada (especially what is today eastern and western Ontario). The American frontier states voted for war to suppress the First Nations raids that frustrated settlement of the frontier. The war on the border with the United States was characterized by a series of multiple failed invasions and fiasco's on both sides. American forces took control of Lake Erie in 1813, driving the British out of western Ontario, killing the Native American leader Tecumseh, and breaking the military power of his confederacy. The war was overseen by British army officers like Isaac Brock and Charles de Salaberry with the assistance of First Nations and loyalist informants, most notably Laura Secord.

Women's suffrage

When Canada was founded, women could not vote in federal elections. Women did have a local vote in some provinces, as in Canada West from 1850, where women owning land could vote for school trustees. By 1900 other provinces adopted similar provisions, and in 1916 Manitoba took the lead in extending full women's suffrage. Simultaneously suffragists gave strong support to the prohibition movement, especially in Ontario and the Western provinces.

The Military Voters Act of 1917 gave the vote to British women who were war widows or had sons or husbands serving overseas. Unionists Prime Minister Borden pledged himself during the 1917 campaign to equal suffrage for women. After his landslide victory, he introduced a bill in 1918 for extending the franchise to women. This passed without division, but did not apply to Quebec provincial and municipal elections. The women of Quebec gained full suffrage in 1940. The first woman elected to Parliament was Agnes Macphail of Ontario in 1921.

Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act. Court decisions, starting in 2003, had already legalized same-sex marriage in eight out of ten provinces and one of three territories. Before the passage of the Act, more than 3,000 same-sex couples had married in these areas.

Multiculturalism (cultural and ethnic diversity) has been emphasized in recent decades. Ambrose and Mudde conclude that: "Canada's unique multiculturalism policy ... which is based on a combination of selective immigration, comprehensive integration, and strong state repression of dissent on these policies. This unique blend of policies has led to a relatively low level of opposition to multiculturalism".

 

Hope you enjoyed today's post and it opened your eyes to a bit of Canadian History.

Have an amazing day :)

See you next time!!

1 view0 comments
bottom of page