Description of Canada
Presentation of the theme:
Description of Canada
1. About Canada
2. People of Canada
5. European colonization
6. Confederation and expansion
7. Early 20th century
8. Modern times
9. Government and politics
11. Foreign relations and military
12. Provinces and territories
13. Geography and climate
14. Science and technology
19. About Ottawa
20. Ottawa as the capital
Motto: A Mari Usque Ad Mare (Latin)
"From Sea to Sea"
Anthem: "O Canada"
Royal anthem: "God Save the Queen"
Official language(s)English and French
GovernmentFederal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy
MonarchHM Queen Elizabeth II
Governor GeneralMichaлlle Jean
Prime MinisterStephen Harper
Lower HouseHouse of Commons
British North America ActsJuly 1, 1867
Statute of WestminsterDecember 11, 1931
Canada ActApril 17, 1982
Total9,984,670 km2 (2nd)
3,854,085 sq mi
Water (%)8.92 (891,163 km2/344,080 mi2)
2010 estimate34,073,000  (36th)
Drives on the Right
Canada (pronounced /?kжn?d?/) is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by total area. Canada's common border with the United States to the south and northwest is the longest in the world.
People of Canada
Canada is a good example of the way peoples of different ways of life and different languages can live side by side under one government. The population of Canada has risen from 11,5 million in 1941 to 25 million in 1980. Most of the new-comers are from Europe, Asia and the USA, so that today less than 44% of Canada's population is of British origin. Quebec Province is still 90% French. There are some groups of French Canadians in Ontario and Manitoba, but the numbers are quite small. There are many Indians, Pakistanis and Chinese, and also blacks from the USA, among the immigrants who are pouring into Canada now. Some Canadians are afraid that before long Canada will have colored citizens that white. Other Canadians are disturbed by the growing racism in their country. Canada, like so many countries, has only just begun to treat her own non-white citizens, Eskimos (or Inuit) and the Indians, as generously as they deserve. The Indian and Eskimo populations have grown quite a lot in the last few years. The government is at last realizing that it has a duty towards this people that it has neglected for so long. All Canadian children have to learn both French and English at school, but Franco phones and Anglophones do not enjoy learning each other's language. Still, most Quebecois middle class families, living in Montreal are bilingual - they speak English and French equally well. Until the Second World War, every Canadian province except Quebec was overwhelmingly British. Some Canadians were more patriotic than the British them-selves and were really angry if anyone walked out of a cinema while `God Save the King' was being played. Now Canadians think of themselves as a people in their own right, not tied to either Britain or the USA. The USA has not been a threat to Canada for almost two hundred years. In fact, the 6,416 km US-Canadian frontier is the longest continuous frontier in the world, has no wire fence, no soldiers, no guns on either side. It is called `The Border'. The land occupied by Canada was inhabited for millennia by various groups of Aboriginal people. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored, and later settled, along the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament. A federation consisting of ten provinces and three territories, Canada is governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. It is a bilingual nation with both English and French as official languages at the federal level. One of the world's highly developed countries, Canada has a diversified economy that is reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade--particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship. It is a member of the G8, G-20, NATO, OECD, WTO, Commonwealth, Franco phone, OAS, APEC, and UN.
The name Canada comes from a St. Lawrence Iroquoian word, Kanata, meaning "village" or "settlement". In 1535, indigenous inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the word to direct French explorer Jacques Cartier towards the village of Stadacona. Cartier later used the word Canada to refer not only to that particular village, but also the entire area subject to Donnacona (the chief at Stadacona); by 1545, European books and maps had begun referring to this region as Canada. From the early 17th century onwards, that part of New France that lay along the Saint Lawrence River and the northern shores of the Great Lakes was known as Canada. The area was later split into two British colonies, Upper Canada and Lower Canada. They were re-unified as the Province of Canada in 1841. Upon Confederation in 1867, the name Canada was adopted as the legal name for the new country, and Dominion was conferred as the country's title. Combined, the term Dominion of Canada was in common usage until the 1950s. As Canada asserted its political autonomy from the United Kingdom, the federal government increasingly used simply Canada on state documents and treaties, a change that was reflected in the renaming of the national holiday from Dominion Day to Canada Day in 1982.
Aboriginal peoples in Canada comprise the First Nations, Inuit and Mйtis. The descriptors "Indian" and "Eskimo" are falling into disuse. Archaeological and Indigenous genetic studies support a human presence in the northern Yukon from 26,500 years ago, and in southern Ontario from 9,500 years ago. Old Crow Flats and Bluefish Caves are the earliest archaeological sites of human (Paleo-Indians) habitation in Canada. Among the First Nations peoples, there are eight unique stories of creation and their adaptations. These are the earth diver, world parent, emergence, conflict, robbery, rebirth of corpse, two creators and their contests, and the brother myth. The characteristics of Canadian Aboriginal civilizations included permanent or urban settlements, agriculture, civic and monumental architecture, and complex societal hierarchies. Some of these civilizations had long faded by the time of the first permanent European arrivals (c. late 15th-early 16th centuries), and have been discovered through archaeological investigations. The aboriginal population is estimated to have been between 200,000 and two million in the late 1400s. Repeated outbreaks of European infectious diseases such as influenza, measles and smallpox (to which they had no natural immunity), combined with other effects of European contact, resulted in an eighty-five to ninety-five percent aboriginal population decrease post-contact. The Mйtis culture of mixed blood originated in the mid-17th century when First Nation and Inuit married European settlers. The Inuit had more limited interaction with European settlers during the early periods.]
Europeans first arrived when the Vikings settled briefly at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around AD 1000; after the failure of that colony, there was no known further attempt at Canadian exploration until 1497, when Italian seafarer Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) explored Canada's Atlantic coast for England. In 1534 Jacques Cartier explored Canada for France. French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in 1603 and established the first permanent European settlements at Port Royal in 1605 and Quebec City in 1608. Among French colonists of New France, Canadians extensively settled the Saint Lawrence River valley and Acadians settled the present-day Maritimes, while French fur traders and Catholic missionaries explored the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and the Mississippi watershed to Louisiana. The French and Iroquois Wars broke out over control of the fur trade. Benjamin West's The Death of General Wolfe (1771) dramatizes Wolfe's death during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham at Quebec in 1759. The battle was part of the Seven Years' War. The English established fishing outposts in Newfoundland around 1610 and established the Thirteen Colonies to the south. A series of four Inter colonial Wars erupted between 1689 and 1763. Mainland Nova Scotia came under British rule with the Treaty of Utrecht (1713); the Treaty of Paris (1763) ceded Canada and most of New France to Britain after the Seven Years' War. The Royal Proclamation (1763) carved the Province of Quebec out of New France and annexed Cape Breton Island to Nova Scotia. St. John's Island (now Prince Edward Island) became a separate colony in 1769. To avert conflict in Quebec, the British passed the Quebec Act of 1774, expanding Quebec's territory to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. It re-established the French language, Catholic faith, and French civil law there. This angered many residents of the Thirteen Colonies and helped to fuel the American Revolution. The Treaty of Paris (1783) recognized American independence and ceded territories south of the Great Lakes to the United States. Around 50,000 United Empire Loyalists fled the United States to Canada. New Brunswick was split from Nova Scotia as part of a reorganization of Loyalist settlements in the Maritimes. To accommodate English-speaking Loyalists in Quebec, the Constitutional Act of 1791 divided the province into French-speaking Lower Canada (later the province of Quebec) and English-speaking Upper Canada (later Ontario), granting each its own elected Legislative Assembly. Canada (Upper and Lower) was the main front in the War of 1812 between the United States and the British Empire. Following the war, large-scale immigration to Canada from Britain and Ireland began in 1815. From 1825 to 1846, 626,628 European immigrants landed at Canadian ports. Between one-quarter and one-third of all Europeans who immigrated to Canada before 1891 died of infectious diseases. The timber industry surpassed the fur trade in economic importance in the early nineteenth century. The desire for responsible government resulted in the aborted Rebellions of 1837. The Durham Report subsequently recommended responsible government and the assimilation of French Canadians into British culture. The Act of Union 1840 merged The Canadas into a united Province of Canada. Responsible government was established for all British North American provinces by 1849. The signing of the Oregon Treaty by Britain and the United States in 1846 ended the Oregon boundary dispute, extending the border westward along the 49th parallel. This paved the way for British colonies on Vancouver Island (1849) and in British Columbia (1858). Canada launched a series of exploratory expeditions to claim Rupert's Land and the Arctic region.
Confederation and expansion
Robert Harris's Fathers of Confederation, an amalgamation of the Charlottetown and Quebec conferences. When Canada was formed in 1867 its provinces were a relatively narrow strip in the southeast, with vast territories in the interior. It grew by adding British Columbia in 1871, P.E.I. in 1873, the British Arctic Islands in 1880, and Newfoundland in 1949, Its provinces grew both in size and number at the expense of its territories. Following several constitutional conferences, the Constitution Act, 1867 brought about Confederation, creating "one Dominion under the name of Canada" on July 1, 1867, with four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Canada assumed control of Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory to form the Northwest Territories, where the Mйtis' grievances ignited the Red River Rebellion and the creation of the province of Manitoba in July 1870. British Columbia and Vancouver Island (which had united in 1866) and the colony of Prince Edward Island joined the Confederation in 1871 and 1873, respectively. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald's Conservative government established a national policy of tariffs to protect nascent Canadian manufacturing industries.
An animated map, exhibiting the growth and change of Canada's provinces and territories since Confederation. To open the West, the government sponsored construction of three trans-continental railways (most notably the Canadian Pacific Railway), opened the prairies to settlement with the Dominion Lands Act, and established the North-West Mounted Police to assert its authority over this territory. In 1898, after the Klondike Gold Rush in the Northwest Territories, the Canadian government created the Yukon territory. Under Liberal Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier, continental European immigrants settled the prairies, and Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905.
Early 20th century
Canadian soldiers won the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917. Britain's declaration of war in 1914 automatically brought Canada into World War I. Volunteers sent to the Western Front later became part of the Canadian Corps. The Corps played a substantial role in the Battle of Vimy Ridge and other major battles of the war. Out of approximately 625,000 who served, about 60,000 were killed and another 173,000 were wounded. The Conscription Crisis of 1917 erupted when conservative Prime Minister Robert Borden brought in compulsory military service over the objection of French-speaking Quebecers. In 1919, Canada joined the League of Nations independently of Britain and in 1931, the Statute of Westminster affirmed Canada's independence. The Great Depression brought economic hardship all over Canada. In response, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in Alberta and Saskatchewan enacted many measures of a welfare state as pioneered by Tommy Douglas in the 1940s and 1950s. Canada declared war on Germany independently during World War II under Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, three days after Britain. The first Canadian Army units arrived in Britain in December 1939. Canadian troops played important roles in the Battle of the Atlantic, the failed 1942 Dieppe Raid in France, the Allied invasion of Italy, the D-Day landings, the Battle of Normandy, and the Battle of the Scheldt in 1944. Canada provided asylum and protection for the monarchy of the Netherlands while that country was occupied, and is credited by the latter country for leadership and major contribution to its liberation from Nazi Germany. The Canadian economy boomed as industry manufactured military materiel for Canada, Britain, China, and the Soviet Union. Despite another Conscription Crisis in Quebec, Canada finished the war with one of the largest armed forces in the world. In 1945, during the war, Canada became one of the founding members of the United Nations.
The Dominion of Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and Labrador), at the time equivalent in status to Canada and Australia as a Dominion, joined Canada in 1949. Canada's growth, combined with the policies of successive Liberal governments, led to the emergence of a new Canadian identity, marked by the adoption of the current Maple Leaf Flag in 1965, the implementation of official bilingualism (English and French) in 1969, and official multiculturalism in 1971. There was also the founding of socially democratic programs, such as universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan, and Canada Student Loans, though provincial governments, particularly Quebec and Alberta, opposed many of these as incursions into their jurisdictions. Finally, another series of constitutional conferences resulted in the partition of Canada's constitution from the United Kingdom, concurrent with the creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. At the same time, Quebec was undergoing profound social and economic changes through the Quiet Revolution, giving birth to a nationalist movement in the province and the more radical Front de liberation du Quйbec (FLQ), whose actions ignited the October Crisis in 1970. A decade later, an unsuccessful referendum on sovereignty-association was held in 1980, after which attempts at constitutional amendment failed in 1990. A second referendum followed in 1995, in which sovereignty was rejected by a slimmer margin of just 50.6% to 49.4%. In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that unilateral secession by a province would be unconstitutional, and the Clarity Act was passed by parliament, outlining the terms of a negotiated departure from Confederation.
Government and politics
Parliament Hill, Ottawa
Canada has a parliamentary government with strong democratic traditions. Parliament is composed of The Crown, an elected House of Commons, and an appointed Senate. Each Member of Parliament in the House of Commons is elected by simple plurality in an electoral district or riding. General elections must be called by the prime minister within five years of the previous election, or may be triggered by the government losing a confidence vote in the House. Members of the Senate, whose seats are apportioned on a regional basis, are chosen by the prime minister and formally appointed by the Governor General and serve until age 75. Four parties had representatives elected to the federal parliament in the 2008 elections: the Conservative Party of Canada (governing party), the Liberal Party of Canada (the Official Opposition), the New Democratic Party (NDP), and the Bloc Quйbйcois. The list of historical parties with elected representation is substantial. Canada's federal structure divides government responsibilities between the federal government and the ten provinces. Provincial legislatures are unicameral and operate in parliamentary fashion similar to the House of Commons. Canada's three territories also have legislatures, but with fewer constitutional responsibilities than the provinces and with some structural differences (for example, the legislative assemblies of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have no parties and operate on consensus). The Senate chamber within the Centre Block on Parliament Hill. Canada is also a constitutional monarchy, with The Crown acting as a symbolic or ceremonial executive. The Crown consists of Queen Elizabeth II (legal head of state) and her appointed viceroys, the governor general (acting head of state), and provincial lieutenant-governors, who perform most of the monarch's ceremonial roles. The political executive consists of the prime minister (head of government) and the Cabinet and carries out the day-to-day decisions of government. The Cabinet is made up of ministers usually selected from the House of Commons and headed by the prime minister, who is normally the leader of the party that holds the confidence of the House of Commons. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is one of the most powerful institutions in government, initiating most legislation for parliamentary approval and selecting, besides other Cabinet members, senators, federal court judges, heads of Crown corporations and government agencies, and the governor general. The Crown formally approves parliamentary legislation and the prime minister's appointments. The leader of the party with the second-most seats usually becomes the Leader of the Opposition, and is part of an adversarial parliamentary system intended to keep the government in check. Michaлlle Jean has served as Governor General since September 27, 2005; Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, has been prime minister since February 6, 2006; and Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal Party, has been Leader of the Opposition since December 10, 2008.