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Canada - History


According to archeological evidence, the American continents were the last to be inhabited. It is believed inhabitation took place about 16,000 years ago. Notwithstanding, regardless their method of arrival the original Paleo-Indian lived in Canada for 10,000 to 17,000 years before Europeans arrived.

The Eskimo Dorset people whose culture in the Arctic has been traced back to around 500 CE  were replaced by the ancestors of today's Inuit by 1500 CE.

The eastern woodland areas of what became Canada were home to speakers of two language groups: Algonquian and Iroquoian.

In the early 1600s the Iroquois came into conflict with another Iroquoian people, the Wendat, as the two groups clashed over the trade in beaver pelts introduced by the early traders of New France. While the Wendat became allies of the French, the Iroquois entered into trade with the Dutch of New Amsterdam and then formed an historic alliance with the English which endured through the Seven Years' War.

On the central plains the plains Cree or Nēhilawē depended on the vast herds of bison to supply food and many of their other needs. To the north, the Na-Dene speaking peoples extended through the Mackenzie River valley to the Pacific Coast, where the Tlingit lived on the islands of southern Alaska and northern British Columbia. The Na-Dene language is believed to be linked to the Yeniseian languages of Siberia, and the Dene of the western Arctic and related Athabaskan people may represent a distinct wave of migration from Asia to North America, possibly arriving by boat initially and settling in northern British Columbia.

Central British Columbia was home to interior Salish such as the Okanagan and southern Athabaskan such as the Tsilqot'in. The inlets and valleys of the Pacific Coast sheltered large populations of indigenous peoples such as the Haida, Kwakwaka'wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth and Salish, sustained in large numbers by the region's abundant salmon and shellfish. These peoples developed complex cultures dependant on the western red cedar that included wooden houses, sea-going whaling and war canoes and elaborately-carved totem poles. Defensive Salish trench work or stonework defence from the 1500s suggest a need for the southern Salish to take measures to protect themselves against their northern neighbours, who were known to mount raids into the Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound in historic times.

The earliest known European explorations in Canada are described in the Icelandic Sagas. According to the sagas, the first European to see Canada was Bjarni Herjólfsson, who was blown off course en route from Iceland to Greenland in the summer of 985 or 986. He found himself off a heavily forested coast to his west, and followed the coast north to the latitude of the Greenland settlement before turning east and sailing to Greenland. Following Leif's voyage, several Norse groups attempted to colonize the new land, but they were driven out by the native people.
Basque whaling began in southern Labrador in mid-16th century. Basque fishermen were joined by fishermen from Brittany, Normandy and England.

The next European explorer acknowledged as landing in what is now Canada was John Cabot, an Italian who ended up landing somewhere on the coast of North America in 1497 and claimed it for King Henry VII of England, on a second voyage the following year he explored and charted the east coast of North America from Baffin Island to Maryland. His voyages gave England a claim by right of discovery to an indefinite amount of area of eastern North America. Every year after 1497 an international mixture of fishing vessels staked grounds off the southeast shore of Newfoundland and east of Nova Scotia. Sometimes these ships would traverse into Gulf of St. Lawrence, encountering native peoples on the shore who would trade their valuable furs for trinkets and other items brought by the fishers.

The French first began to explore further inland and set up colonies. In 1524 King Francis I of France sent a florentine navigator, Giovanni da Verrazano, he explored the eastern coastline of North America from North Carolina to Newfoundland, giving France some claim to the new world as well. In 1541 made France abandoned to settle in Canada. The 60 colonists died before the attempt was abandoned and France would not revisitfurther colonization for another 60 years.
Throughout the rest of the 16th century the European fleets continued to make almost annual visits to the eastern shores of Canada to cultivate the fishing opportunities there. A sideline industry emerged as well though in the unorganized traffic of furs

The first contact with the Europeans was disastrous for the first peoples. Explorers and traders brought European diseases, such as smallpox, which killed off entire villages. Relations varied between the settlers and the natives.

In 1604 the fur trade monopoly was granted to Pierre Dugua Sieur de Monts. Dugua led his first colonization expedition to an island located near to the mouth of the St. Croix River. It was France's most successful colony to date and the settlement came to be known as Acadia. In 1608 France founded its first permanent colony in Canada at Quebec. The colony of Acadia grew slowly, reaching a population of about 5,000 by 1713. After the founding of Quebec City in 1608, it became the capital of New France.

In 1629 France suffered the humiliation of having to surrender its starving garrison to an English fleet, in the meantime peace had been declared by England, and the settlement was restored to French rule. Champlain would return from Europe to spend his remaining years in the colony. He became governor of New France in 1633.

By 1759 New France only had a population of some 65,000. New France had other problems besides low immigration. The feudal system of landholding, which had long been established in France, was adopted in the colony.

Britain and France repeatedly went to war in the 17th and 18th centuries and made their colonial empires into battlefields with the main battles fought in and around Canada. The first areas won by the British were the Maritime provinces. The interests of the British and French in North America conflicted resulting in the outbreak of war in both in Europe and North America. Canada was also an important battlefield in the Seven Years' War, during which Great Britain gained control of Quebec City after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, and Montreal in 1760.
With the end of the Seven Years' War and the signing of the Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763, France ceded almost all of its territory in mainland North America to Britain.

During the American Revolution an attempt by the Continental Army in late 1775 to take Quebec from British control was defeated by Guy Carleton, with the assistance of local militias.
1783 formally ended the American war of Independence and the borders between Canada and the United States were officially declared.

In 1793 Alexander Mackenzie a Scottish born Canadian working for the North West Company crossed the continent and with his aboriginal guides, French-Canadian voyageurs and another Scot, reached the mouth of the Bella Coola River, completing the first continental crossing north of Mexico.

The 1864 Quebec Conference laid out the framework for uniting British colonies in North America into a federation.
Canada's participation in the First World War helped to foster a sense of British-Canadian nationhood.
Canada's involvement in the Second World War began when Canada declared war on Germany on September 10, 1939, one week after Britain.
Prosperity returned to Canada during Second World War and saw the introduction of meaningful social welfare schemes

In 1982, the Canada Act was passed by the British parliament and granted Royal Assent by Queen Elizabeth II on March 29, while the Constitution Act was passed by the Canadian parliament. Until this time the constitution has existed only as an act of the British parliament, simultaneously the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was added.
In 1986, Canada and the U.S. signed the Acid Rain Treaty to reduce acid rain. In 1989, the federal government adopted the Free Trad Agreement with the United States despite significant animosity from the Canadian public who were concerned about the economic and cultural impacts of close integration with the United States.

In the 2000s, significant social and political changes have occurred in Canada. Canada's border control policy and foreign policy were altered as a result of the political impact of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States in 2001,environmental issues increased in importance in Canada resulting in the signing of the Kyoto Accord on climate change by Canada's Liberal government in 2002.

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