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2. A Short History of CanadaFirst PeopleAboriginal peoples are thought to have arrived from Asia thousands of yearsago by way of a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. Some of them settledin Canada, while others choose to continue to the south. When the Europeanexplorers arrived, Canada was populated by a diverse range of Aboriginalpeoples who, depending on the environment, leading a wandering life with nofixed abode or settled lifestyles, were hunters, fishers or farmers.First contacts between the Aboriginal peoples and Europeans probablyoccurred about 1000 years ago when Icelandic Norsemen settled for a brieftime on the island of New found land. But it would be another 600 years beforeEuropean exploration began in earnest.First Colonial OutpostsSeeking a new route to the rich markets of the Orient, French and Britishexplorers plied the waters of North America. They constructed a number ofposts - the French mostly along the St. Lawrence River, the Great Lakes andthe Mississippi River; the British around Hudson Bay and along the Atlanticcoast. Although explorers such as Cabot, Cartier and Champlain never found aroute to China and India, they found something just as valuable - rich fishinggrounds and teeming populations of beaver, fox and bear, all of which werevalued for their fur.French and British were began to settle permanently in the early 1600s andincreased throughout the century. With settlement the economic activity came intoforce , but the colonies of New France and New England remained economicallydependent on the fur trade and politically and militarily dependent on theirmother countries.Inevitably, North America became the focal point for the bitter rivalry betweenEngland and France. After the fall of Quebec City in 1759, the Treaty of Parisassigned all French territory east of the Mississippi to Britain, except for theislands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, off the island of Newfoundland. 3. Under British rule, the 65 000 French-speaking people of Canada had asingle aim - to retain their traditions, language and culture. Britain passed theQuebec Act (1774), which granted official recognition to French Civil Law andguaranteed religious and linguistic freedoms.Large numbers of English-speaking colonists, called Loyalists because theywished to remain faithful to the British Empire, sought refuge in Canada afterthe United States of America won its independence in 1776. They settledmainly in the colonies of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and along the GreatLakes.The increase in population led to the creation in 1791 of Upper Canada (nowOntario) and Lower Canada (Quebec). Both were granted their ownrepresentative governing institutions. Rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada in1837 and 1838 prompted the British to join the two colonies, forming theunited Province of Canada. In 1848 the joint colony was granted responsiblegovernment. Canada gained a further measure of autonomy but remained partof the British Empire.A Country Is BornBritains North American colonies - Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick,Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland - grew and prospered independently.But with the emergence of a more powerful United States after the AmericanCivil War, some politicians felt a union of the British colonies was the only wayto fend off eventual annexation. On July 1, 1867, Canada East (Quebec),Canada West (Ontario), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined together underthe terms of the British North America Act to become the Dominion of Canada.The government of the new country was based on the British parliamentarysystem, with a Governor General (the Crowns representative) and a Parliamentconsisting of the House of Commons and the Senate. Parliament received thepower to legislate over matters of national interest (such as criminal law, tradeand commerce, and national defence), while the provinces were givenlegislative powers over matters of "particular" interest (such as property andcivil rights, hospitals and education). 4. Westward ExpansionSoon after Confederation, Canada expanded into the northwest. Ruperts Land- an area extending south and west for thousands of kilometres from HudsonBay - was purchased by Canada from the Hudsons Bay Company, which hadbeen granted the vast territory by King Charles of England in 1670.Westward expansion did not happen without stress. In 1869, Louis Riel led anuprising of the Mtis in an attempt to defend their ancestral rights to the land. Acompromise was reached in 1870 and a new province, Manitoba, was carvedfrom Ruperts Land.British Columbia, already a Crown colony since 1858, decided to join thesssDominion in 1871 on the promise of a rail link with the rest of the country;Prince Edward Island followed suit in 1873. In 1898, the northern territory ofYukon was officially established to ensure Canadian jurisdiction over that areaduring the Klondike gold rush. In 1905, two new provinces were carved fromRuperts Land: Alberta and Saskatchewan; the residual land became theNorthwest Territories. Newfoundland preferred to remain a British colony until1949, when it became Canadas 10th province.The development of new provinces coincided with an increase of immigration toCanada, particularly to the west. Immigration peaked in 1913 with 400 000coming to Canada. During the pre-war period, Canada profited from theprosperous world economy and established itself as an industrial as well as anagricultural power.A Nation MaturesCanadas substantial role in World War I won it representation distinct fromBritain in the League of Nations after the war. Its independent voice becamemore and more pronounced, and in 1931 Canadas constitutional autonomyfrom Britain was confirmed with the passing of the Statute of Westminster.In Canada, as elsewhere, the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 broughthardship. As many as one of every four workers was without a job and theprovinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were laid waste by drought. 5. Ironically, it was the need to supply the Allied armies during World War II thatboosted up Canada out of the Depression.Since World War II, Canadas economy has continued to expand. This growth,combined with government social programs such as family allowances, old-agesecurity, universal medicare and unemployment insurance, has given Canadiansa high standard of living and desirable quality of life.There are some changes which are noticeable have occurred in Canadasimmigration trends. Before World War II, most immigrants came from the BritishIsles or eastern Europe. Since 1945, increasing numbers of southern Europeans,Asians, SouthAmericans and people from the Caribbean islands have enriched Canadasmulticultural mosaic.On the international scene, as the nation has developed and matured, so have itsreputation and influence. Canada has participated in the United Nations since itsinception and is the only nation to have taken part in almost all of the UNsmajor peacekeeping operations. It is also a member of the Commonwealth, laFrancophonie, the Group of Seven industrialized nations, the OAS(Organizationof American States) and the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)defence pact.A New Federation in the MakingThe last quarter of a century has seen Canadians grapple once more withfundamental questions of national identity. Discontent among manyFrench-speaking Quebeckers led to a referendum in that province in 1980 onwhether Quebec should become more politically autonomous from Canada, buta majority voted against that option.In 1982, the process toward major constitutional reform culminated in thesigning of the Constitution Act. Under this Act, the British North America Actof 1867 and its various amendments became the Constitution Act, 1867-1982.The Constitution, its Charter of Rights and Freedoms and its general amendingformula redefined the powers of governments, entrenched the equality ofwomen and men and protected the rights of individuals and ethnoculturalgroups. 6. Two major efforts were made to reform the constitutional system: the 1987Meech Lake Accord - which was not implemented since it did not obtain thelegislative consent of all provinces - and the 1991 Charlottetown Accord. TheCharlottetown Accord would have reformed the Senate, entrenched theprinciple of Aboriginal self-government and made other major changes in theConstitution. It was rejected by Canadians in a national referendum held onOctober 26, 1992.The Parliament of Canada has since passed a bill, on February 2, 1996,guaranteeing Canadas five major regions that no constitutional change will bethere concerning them would be made without their unanimous consent. As well,less than amonth after the Quebec sovereignty referendum of October 30, 1995,Parliament passed a resolution recognizing Quebec as a distinct society withinCanada.GeographyCanada occupies a major northern portion of North America, sharing landborders with the contiguous United States to the south and the US stateof Alaska to the northwest. Canada stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in theeast to the Pacific Ocean in the west; to the north lies the Artic Ocean.Greenland is to the northeast, while Saint Pierre and Miquelon is south ofNewfoundland. By total area (including its waters), Canada is the second largest country in the world, after Russia. By land area alone, Canadaranks fourthSince 1925, Canada has claimed the portion of the Arctic between 60 and141W longitude, but this claim is not universally recognized. Canada ishome to the worlds northernmost settlement, Canadian Force Station Alert,on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island latitude 82.5N which lies 817kilometres (508 mi) from the North Pole. Much of the Canadian Arctic is 7. covered by ice and permafrost. Cana


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