How Canada came to be – Canada is a diverse and culturally rich place to live. The second-largest country by land mass in the world, Canada is comprised of 10 provinces and three territories. #Canada
How Canada came to be
Canada is a relatively young country – around 90 years younger in founding than the United States of America, its closest neighbor – and will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2016. However, Canada experienced a rich history prior to its official founding. Here’s a look back at how Canada came to be.
During the Age of Exploration, European nations sent out exploratory parties to find lands they could claim as their own. North America was an area rich in natural resources, and both Great Britain and France were interested in capitalizing on those resources. In 1497, John Cabot was the first European to explore Canada. Cabot also was the first to draw a map of Canada’s East Coast.
Jacques Cartier of France also explored Canada in the early 1500s, and claimed land for the king of France. Cartier heard two captured native guides speak the Iroquoian word kanata, meaning “village.” While the name of Canada began appearing on maps, the region was largely known as “New France,” thanks to French influence and claims.
Prior to European influences in the 16th century, Canada was populated by aboriginal peoples who had been living on the land for thousands of years. Early interactions between settlers and natives were tense, with various wars springing up. In addition, life as natives knew it changed dramatically upon the arrival of European traders and colonists. According to the Government of Canada, large numbers of aboriginal inhabitants died after being exposed to diseases brought by the Europeans. Ultimately, natives and Europeans formed strong economic, religious and military bonds in the first 200 years of their coexistence in Canada, laying the foundation for the nation that exists today.
While France maintained a heavy influence in North America, British colonies along the Atlantic seaboard helped Great Britain establish a stronghold in North America. In the 1700s, France and Great Britain battled for control of North America. In 1759, the British defeated the French in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham at Québec City. The Seven Years War ended in 1763, and France surrendered its land in North America to Britain.
Canada flourished, but it was a series of fragmented British colonies. Much like in the United States, Canadian colonial dependence began to give way to a desire for increasing autonomy. Colonists noted the conflict between French and English-speaking areas of the country, a need for a common defense, the desire for a national railroad system, and a need for more opportunities to sell Canadian goods, and ultimately a confederation was born out of these needs.
Fearing more conflict with the United States after the American Revolution and support of the south during the Civil War, Britain didn’t want to have a separate colony it would have to defend on its hands. As a result, on July 1, 1867, the British North America Act established the Dominion of Canada as a self-governing entity within the British Empire. July 1 is also known as Canada Day.
Canada began with four provinces. It would take more than a century to add the other six provinces and three territories that make Canada the vast nation it is today.
Learn more about the Canadian Flag.
Article compliments of Metro Creative. TF16A515 First published June 11, 2019. Last updated or republished July 1, 2020.