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Canada, federated country of North America, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, bounded on the north by the Arctic Ocean; on the north-east by Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, which separate it from Greenland; on the east by the Atlantic Ocean; on the south by the United States; and on the west by the Pacific Ocean and the US state of Alaska. It was formerly known as the Dominion of Canada. Occupying all of North America north of thhe conterminous United States, except Alaska, Greenland, Saint-Pierre and Miquelon Islands, Canada is the world’s second-largest country, surpassed in size only by Russia. It includes many islands, notably the Canadian Arctic Islands (Arctic Archipelago) in the Arctic Ocean. Among the larger members of this group, which in aggregate area is about 1,424,500 sq km (550,000 sq mi), are (in descending order) Baffin, Victoria, Ellesmere, Banks, Devon, Axel Heiberg, and Melville islands. Cape Columbia, a promontory of Ellesmere Island at latitude 83°06¢ north, is thhe northernmost point of Canada; its southernmost point is Middle Island in Lake Erie, at latitude 41°41¢ north. The easternmost and westernmost limits are delineated, respectively, by longitude 52°37¢ west, which lies along Cape Spear, on Newfoundland Island, and longitude 141° west, which co

oincides with part of the Alaska-Yukon border. Canada has a total area of 9,970,610 km (3,849,674 sq mi), of which 755,180 sq km (291,575 sq mi) is covered by bodies of freshwater such as rivers and lakes, including those portions of the Great Lakes under Canadian jurisdiction.

Canada contains great reserves of natural resources, notably timber, petroleum, natural gas, metallic minerals, and fish. It is also an important manufacturing country, and its major cities, such as Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Ottawa (the country’s capital) are bustling centres of commerce and industry. Most of Canada’s inhabitants live in the southern part of the country, and vast areas of the north are sparsely inhabited. The name “Canada” is believed to derive from an Iroquoian teerm meaning “village” or “community”.


The coast of the Canadian mainland, about 58,500 km (36,350 mi) in length, is extremely broken and irregular. Large bays and peninsulas alternate, and Canada has numerous coastal islands, in addition to the Arctic Archipelago, with a total insular coastline of some 185,290 km (115,135 mi). Off the eastern coast the largest islands are Newfoundland, Cape Breton, Prince Edward, and Anticosti. Off the western coast, which is fringed with fiords, are Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Is

slands. Southampton Island, covering 41,214 sq km (15,913 sq mi), and many smaller islands are in Hudson Bay, a vast inland sea in east-central Canada.

Although forests in Ontario and Quebec were badly affected by acid rain in the 1970s and 1980s caused by pollution originating in the United States, Canada’s own carbon dioxide emissions per capita were higher, at 4.1 tonnes per person per year. Canada is a signatory of a number of international environmental treaties, such as the Convention on Climate Change, the Montreal Protocol on CFC Emissions, and the Bio-Diversity Convention.

With its large areas of forest and important timber industry, Canada’s old-growth forest has been extensively logged for more than a century. Since the 1960s, however, legislation (usually at provincial level) has introduced increasing levels of obligation on timber companies to replant clear-cut areas, to ensure species diversity, and to minimize incidental damage from construction of logging roads. In this way, the area of old-growth forest logged as a proportion of all logging has continually diminished. Assisting this process has been the increase in the area protected within national and provincial parks; for instance, British Columbia has passed legislation increasing the area to be protected within BC provincial parks from some 25

5,000 sq km (9,650 sq mi) in the early 1990s to 100,000 sq km (38,600 sq mi—more than 10 per cent of the province’s area) by the end of the decade.

A Physiographical Regions Excluding the Arctic Archipelago, six general physiographical regions are distinguishable in Canada: the Canadian Shield (also known as the Laurentian Plateau), Appalachian, Great Lakes, St Lawrence, Interior Plains, and Cordillera. The largest region, the Canadian Shield, extends from Labrador to the Great Bear Lake, from the Arctic Ocean to the Thousand Islands in the St Lawrence River, and into the United States west of Lake Superior and into northern New York State. This region of ancient granite rock, sparsely covered with soil and deeply eroded by glacial action, comprises all of Labrador (the easternmost part of the mainland, which is part of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador), most of Quebec, northern Ontario, Manitoba, and most of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, with Hudson Bay in the centre.

Eastern Canada consists of the Appalachian region and the Great Lakes-St Lawrence lowlands. The former embraces the island of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec. This region is an extension of the Appalachian mountain system and of th
he Atlantic Coastal Plain. The Great Lakes-St Lawrence lowlands region, covering an area of about 98,420 sq km (38,000 sq mi) in southern Quebec and Ontario, is a generally level plain. This region includes the largest expanse of cultivable land in eastern and central Canada and most of the manufacturing industries of the nation.

Bordering the Canadian Shield on the west is the Interior Plains, an extension of the Great Plains of the United States. About 1,300 km (800 mi) wide at the US border, it narrows to about 320 km (200 mi) west of Great Bear Lake and widens again at the mouth of the Mackenzie River on the coast of the Arctic Ocean to about 480 km (300 mi). Within the Interior Plains are the north-eastern corner of British Columbia, most of Alberta, the southern half of Saskatchewan, and the southern third of Manitoba. This region contains the most fertile soil in Canada.

The fifth and westernmost region of Canada embraces the uplifts west of the Interior Plains. The region belongs to the Cordillera, the vast mountain system extending from the southernmost extremity of South America to westernmost Alaska. In Canada, the Cordillera has an average width of about 800 km (500 mi). Part of western Alberta, much of British Columbia, the Inuvik Region and part of the Fort Smith Region of Northwest Territories, and practically all of Yukon Territory lie within this region. The eastern portion of the Cordillera in Canada consists of the Rocky Mountains and related ranges, including the Mackenzie, Franklin, and Richardson mountains. Mount Robson (3,954 m/12,972 ft) is the highest summit of the Canadian Rockies, and ten other peaks reach elevations of more than 3,500 m (11,500 ft). To the west of the Canadian Rockies is a region occupied by numerous further ranges, notably the Cariboo, Stikine, and Selkirk mountains, and a vast plateau region. Deep river valleys and extensive tracts of arable land are the chief features of the plateau region, particularly in British Columbia. Flanking this central belt on the west and generally parallel to the Pacific Ocean is another great mountain system. This system includes the Coast Mountains, related to the Cascade Range of the United States, and various coastal ranges. The loftiest coastal uplift is the St Elias Mountains, on the boundary between the Yukon Territory and Alaska. Among noteworthy peaks of the western Cordillera in Canada are Mount Logan (5,951 m/19,524 ft, the highest point in Canada and second-highest mountain in North America after Mount McKinley), Mount St Elias (5,489 m/18,008 ft), Mount Lucania (5,226 m/17,147 ft), and King Peak (5,173 m/16,971 ft); all are in the St Elias Mountains.

B Geology The Canadian Shield, which occupies the eastern half of Canada’s land mass, is an ancient craton, or stable platform, made up of rocks that formed billions of years ago, during the Priscoan, Archaean, and Proterozoic eons. The shield, with its assemblage of granites, gneisses, and schists 2 billion to 4 billion years old, became the nucleus of the North American plate at the time that the Earth’s crust first began experiencing the forces of plate tectonics that drive continental drift. See alsoNorth America: Geological History.

During the Palaeozoic era, large parts of Canada were covered by shallow seas. Sediments deposited in these seas formed the sandstone, shale, and limestone that now surround the Canadian Shield. The Cambrian and Silurian systems are represented by great thicknesses of strata that appear in outcroppings in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador, along the St Lawrence Valley, and on the shores of Lake Ontario. Flat-lying beds of Palaeozoic and younger rocks extend westward across the Interior Plains throughout the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. In these areas, the rocks contain valuable deposits of oil and gas. In the Cordilleran region of western Canada, the rocks were subjected to tectonic forces generated by the collision of the North American plate with the Pacific plate. In the ensuing upheavals, which began during the Cretaceous period, mountain ranges rose throughout the Cordilleran region. The easternmost of these ranges, the Rocky Mountains, are similar in structure to the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, having been built by uplift and folding of sedimentary rocks and, in lesser degree, by volcanic activity. The strata of which they are composed range in age from Palaeozoic to Tertiary and contain valuable deposits of base and precious metals as well as fossil fuels.

During the Quaternary sub-era, nearly all of Canada was covered by vast ice sheets that terminated in the northern United States during the ice ages. Landscapes were profoundly modified by the erosive action of this vast mass of moving ice, particularly in the creation of Canada’s many thousands of lakes and its extensive deposits of sand, clay, and gravel.

C Rivers and Lakes

Canada contains more lakes and inland waters than any other country in the world. In addition to the Great Lakes on the US border (all partly within Canada except Lake Michigan), the country has 31 lakes more than 1,300 sq km (500 sq mi) in area. Largest among these lakes are Great Bear, Great Slave, Dubawnt, and Baker in the mainland Northwest Territories and Nunavut; Nettilling and Amadjuak on Baffin Island; Athabasca in Alberta and Saskatchewan; Wollaston in Saskatchewan; Reindeer in Saskatchewan and Manitoba; Winnipeg, Manitoba, Winnipegosis, and Southern Indian in Manitoba; Nipigon and Lake of the Woods in Ontario; Mistassini in Quebec; and Smallwood Reservoir and Melville in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Among the great rivers of Canada are the St Lawrence, draining the Great Lakes, and emptying into the Gulf of St Lawrence; the Ottawa and the Saguenay, the principal tributaries of the St Lawrence; the Saint John, emptying into the Bay of Fundy, between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; the Saskatchewan, flowing into Lake Winnipeg, and the Nelson, flowing from this lake into Hudson Bay; the system formed by the Athabasca, Peace, Slave, and Mackenzie rivers, emptying into the Arctic Ocean; the upper course of the Yukon, flowing across Alaska into the Bering Sea; and the Fraser and the upper course of the Columbia, emptying into the Pacific Ocean.

D Climate Part of the Canadian mainland and most of the Arctic Archipelago fall within the Frigid Zone; the remainder of the country lies in the northern half of the North Temperate Zone. As a consequence, general climatic conditions range from the extreme cold characteristic of the Arctic regions to the moderate temperatures of more southerly latitudes. The Canadian climate is marked by wide regional variations. In the Maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island), extremes of winter cold and summer heat are modified by oceanic influences, which also cause considerable fog and precipitation. Along the western coast, which is under the influence of warm ocean currents and moisture-laden winds, mild summers and winters, high humidity, and abundant precipitation are characteristic. In the Cordilleran region the higher western slopes of certain uplifts, particularly the Selkirks and the Rockies, receive sizeable amounts of rain and snow, but the eastern slopes and the central plateau region are extremely arid. A feature of the Cordilleran region is the chinook, a warm, dry westerly wind that substantially ameliorates winter conditions in the Rocky Mountain foothills and adjoining plains, often causing great daily changes. For further climatic information, see articles on the individual provinces.

E Natural Resources

Canada is richly endowed with valuable natural resources that are commercially indispensable to the economy. The country has enormous areas of fertile, low-lying land in the Prairie provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan) and bordering the Great Lakes and St Lawrence River in southern Quebec and southern Ontario. Forests cover about 49 per cent of the country’s land area and abound in commercially valuable stands of timber. Commercial fishing in Canada dates from nearly 500 years ago, and ocean waters, inland lakes, and rivers continue to support this industry. The mining industry of Canada has a long history of exploration and development that pre-dates confederation in 1867. The Canadian Shield contains a wealth of minerals; the nation is also rich in reserves of crude petroleum and natural gas. The river and lake systems of the country combine with the mountainous topography to make hydroelectric energy one of the permanent natural assets of Canada. The wildlife of the country is extensive and varied.

F Plants and Animals The flora of the entire northern part of Canada is arctic and subarctic. A substantial part of the Maritime provinces is covered by forests of mixed hardwoods and softwoods. The Prairie provinces were in their natural state grasslands and are thus comparatively treeless as far north as the Saskatchewan river system; prairie grasses, herbage, and bunchgrasses are the chief forms of vegetation. North of the Saskatchewan a broad belt of rather small and sparse trees extends from Hudson Bay to Great Slave Lake and the Rocky Mountains. Spruce, tamarack, and poplar are the principal species. The dry slopes and valleys of the Rocky Mountains support thin forests, mainly pine, but the forests increase in density and the trees in size westward towards the region of greater rainfall. On the coast ranges, especially on their western slopes, are dense forests of mighty evergreen trees. The principal trees are the spruce, hemlock, Douglas and balsam firs, jack and lodgepole pines, and cedar.

The animals of Canada are very similar or identical to those of northern Europe and Asia. Among the carnivores are several species of the weasel subfamily, such as the ermine, sable, fisher, wolverine, and mink. Other representative carnivores include the black bear, grizzly bear, lynx, wolf, coyote, fox, and skunk. The polar bear is distributed throughout the arctic regions; the puma is found in British Columbia. Of the rodents, the most characteristic is the beaver. The Canadian porcupine, the muskrat, and many smaller rodents are numerous, as are hare, and in the Interior Plains a variety of burrowing gopher is found.

Several varieties of Virginia deer are indigenous to southern Canada; the black-tailed deer occurs in British Columbia and parts of the plains region. This region is also the habitat of the pronghorn antelope. The woodland caribou and the moose are numerous and widely distributed, but the Barren Ground caribou is found only in the more northern areas, which are also the habitat of the musk ox. Elk and bison are found in various western areas. In the mountains of British Columbia bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goats are numerous. Birds are abundant and diverse, and fish are numerous in all the inland waters and along all the coasts. Reptiles are scarce except in the far south, as are insects, except for mosquitoes, which occur in vast numbers in the mainland Northwest Territories and Nunavut during the brief summers.

G Soils Large areas of Canada are covered by boggy peat characteristic of the tundra and adjoining forest areas. This land is generally infertile and frequently mossy. A formation of rich dark brown and black prairie soils runs from southern Manitoba west across Saskatchewan and into Alberta, forming Canada’s best farmland. The grey-brown soil of the St Lawrence Basin and the Great Lakes is also good farmland. Only about 5 per cent of Canada’s land is suitable for farming, however, the remainder being too mountainous, rocky, wet, or infertile.


The racial and ethnic make-up of the Canadian people is diverse. About 34 per cent of the population is composed of people of British or part-British origin. People of French or part-French origin total about 27 per cent of the population. The vast majority of French-speaking Canadians reside in Quebec, where they make up about 78 per cent of the population; large numbers also live in Ontario and New Brunswick, and smaller groups inhabit the remaining provinces. French-speaking Canadians maintain their language, culture, and traditions, and the federal government follows the policy of a bilingual and bicultural nation. During the 1970s and 1980s the proportion of Asians among the Canadian population increased from 5 per cent to more than 16 per cent; more than two thirds of the Asian immigrants live in Ontario or British Columbia. The remainder of the population is composed of people of various ethnic origins, such as German, Italian, Ukrainian, Dutch, Scandinavian, Polish, Hungarian, Greek, and the native peoples, who are officially designated the First Nations. The First Nations make up nearly 2 per cent of Canada’s population, and belong predominantly to the Algonquian linguistic group; other representative linguistic stocks are the Iroquoian, Salishan, Athabascan, and Inuit (Eskimoan). Altogether, the indigenous people of Canada are divided into nearly 600 groups, or bands.

Blacks have never constituted a major segment of the Canadian population, but their history has been an interesting one. Although Louis XIV of France in 1689 authorized the importation of slaves from the Caribbean, black immigration into Canada has been almost entirely from the United States. Some Loyalists brought slaves north with them during and after the American War of Independence (1775-1783). The British troops that burnt Washington in the War of 1812 brought many slaves back with them to Halifax, Nova Scotia. However, Nova Scotia abolished slavery in 1787 and their action was followed six years later by Upper Canada, thus setting precedents for the whole British Empire, in which slavery was finally abolished in 1833. The presence of free soil in Canada was a major influence in the operation of the Underground Railroad, which, during the abolition campaign in the United States, transported many slaves into Canada, particularly to Chatham and Sarnia in Ontario. Blacks make up less than 2 per cent of the Canadian population today.

A Population Characteristics The population of Canada is 31,330,255 (2000), compared with 27,296,859 in the 1991 census. The overall population density is about 3 people per sq km (8.1 people per sq mi).

Approximately three quarters of the people of Canada inhabit a relatively narrow belt of land along the US border, with about 62 per cent concentrated in Quebec and Ontario. Nearly 17 per cent of the population lives in the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan; about 8 per cent in the Atlantic provinces, which include Newfoundland and Labrador and the Maritime provinces of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick; and about 13 per cent in British Columbia. Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut are sparsely inhabited, having only about 0.3 per cent of the total population. About 77 per cent of the population is urban.

B Political Divisions The country is divided into ten provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan) and three territories (Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, and Nunavut, which was created from a division of the Northwest Territories, and came into existence in 1999).

C Principal Cities

Among the leading cities of Canada are Toronto, Ontario, a port and manufacturing city (population, 1996 estimate, metropolitan area, 4,444,700); Montreal, Quebec, a port and major commercial centre (3,359,000); Vancouver, British Columbia, a railway, shipping, and forest-products manufacturing centre (1,891,400); Ottawa, Ontario, the capital of Canada and a commercial and industrial city (Ottawa-Hull metropolitan area, 1,030,500); Winnipeg, Manitoba, a major wheat market and railway junction (676,700); Edmonton, Alberta, a farming and petroleum centre (891,500); Quebec City, Quebec, a shipping, manufacturing, and tourist centre (697,600); Hamilton, Ontario, a shipping and manufacturing centre (650,400); Calgary, Alberta, a transport, mining, and farm-trade centre (851,600); St Catharines, Ontario, an industrial and commercial city (St Catharines-Niagara metropolitan area, 389,700); Kitchener, Ontario, a city of manufacturing industries (403,300); London, Ontario, a railway and industrial centre (416,100); and Halifax, Nova Scotia, a seaport and manufacturing city (346,800).

D Religion

The largest religious community in Canada is Roman Catholic. Nearly half of Canadian Roman Catholics live in Quebec. Of the Protestant denominations in Canada the largest is the United Church of Canada, followed by the Anglican Church of Canada. Other important religious groups are Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and Pentecostalist. Smaller religious communities include Islamic, Hindu, and Sikh groups. Nearly 13 per cent of Canadians claim no religion.

E Education The educational system in Canada is derived from the British and American traditions and the French tradition, the latter particularly in the province of Quebec. English or French is the language of instruction, and some schools provide instruction in both official languages. Each of the ten provinces has responsibility for establishing and maintaining its own school system. In Quebec, the French-Canadian tradition is followed by the Roman Catholic schools. The province also maintains Protestant schools, however, which are widely attended. Although Canada does not have a central ministry of education, the federal government provides schools for First Nations children, inmates of federal penitentiaries, and the children of military personnel in Europe.

The earliest Canadian schools, which were conducted by French Catholic religious orders, date from the early 17th century. Higher education was inaugurated in 1635 with the founding of the Collčge des Jésuites in the city of Quebec. It was not until the transfer of Canada from French to British jurisdiction in 1763 that an educational system began to emerge that encompassed Church, governmental, and private secular schools. The early 19th century saw the establishment of the large universities, beginning with McGill University (in Montreal) in 1821 and followed by the University of Ottawa in 1848 and the University of Toronto in 1850. Since 1945, a notable expansion in higher education has occurred. Many new institutions have been founded, and the older universities have increased in size, scope, and influence. The federal and provincial governments fund the university system in Canada, and students pay only a small portion of the cost. Universities are still the predominant institutions offering higher education, but the number of non-university post-secondary institutions, particularly community colleges, has increased sharply in recent decades. In 1994, 7.6 per cent of the national budget was spent on education.

Education is generally compulsory for children from ages 6 or 7 to ages 15 or 16, depending on the province in which they live, and it is free until the completion of secondary school studies. In the early 1990s Canada had more than 16,000 elementary and secondary schools, with a total enrolment of nearly 5.3 million pupils. In the early 1990s Canada maintained 19 specialized schools for visually impaired and hearing-impaired people, with an enrolment of about 2,300 pupils. Canada has several schools for developmentally disabled children.

In the early 1990s Canada had 69 degree-granting universities and colleges, which together enrolled some 573,200 full-time students. Among the country’s larger universities are the following: the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, in Alberta; the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia; the University of Manitoba; the University of Moncton and the University of New Brunswick, in New Brunswick; Memorial University of Newfoundland; Acadia University and Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia; Carleton University, McMaster University, the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, and York University, in Ontario; the University of Prince Edward Island; Concordia University, Laval University, McGill University, the University of Montreal, and the University of Quebec, in Quebec; and the University of Saskatchewan.

F Culture

The federal government especially encourages the arts through the Canada Council, established in 1957, which awards fellowships and grants. It favours decentralizing policies that bring cultural resources within reach of the most isolated communities. Since 1972 it has supported a multicultural policy to reflect the varied influences that make up the mosaic of Canadian life, including the cultures of indigenous peoples.

Of Canada’s more than 2,100 museums, archives, and historical sites, the most important are in the National Capital Region. These include, in Hull, Quebec, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which celebrates Canada’s multicultural heritage; and, in Ottawa, the Canadian Museum of Nature (formerly the National Museum of Natural Sciences), the National Museum of Science and Technology, and the National Gallery of Canada. The National Museum Policy (1972) has encouraged and supported the growth of regional museums.

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto has collections of art, life and Earth sciences, and Canadiana. Among more specialized museums are Upper Canada Village, a restoration of 18th- and 19th-century buildings in Morrisburg, Ontario; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Museum, in Regina, Saskatchewan; and the Royal British Columbia Museum, in Victoria, which contains important displays of Native American artefacts.

The National Library of Canada, in Ottawa, issues the national bibliography and maintains union catalogues of the collections of more than 300 other libraries. Its holdings, including a comprehensive collection of Canadian newspapers, exceed 15.9 million items. Particularly outstanding university libraries are those of McGill, Toronto, British Columbia, and Montreal.

The performing arts in Canada are supported by government and private grants. The National Arts Centre, in Ottawa, opened in 1969, has a resident symphony orchestra and theatre companies that perform in French and English. The chief theatrical centres are Quebec, Montreal, and Toronto where the theatres present new Canadian plays as well as imports and classics. Opera companies include the Canadian Opera, in Toronto; two companies in Montreal; and six in the west—in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Saskatoon. Among the principal dance companies are the National Ballet of Canada, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens (Montreal). The Toronto Dance Theatre presents modern dance. The prominent orchestras include the Montreal Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, and the Vancouver Symphony.

Canadians and visitors also enjoy summer festivals, such as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario; the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario; and Cultures Canada, a series of multicultural events in Ottawa. Local traditions are preserved in the Highland Games on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia; the Sherbrooke Festival de Cantons (Quebec), celebrating French-Canadian culture and cuisine; and the Ukrainian Festival in Dauphin, Manitoba.


Until the early 20th century, Canada was primarily an agricultural nation. Since then it has become one of the most highly industrialized countries in the world. To a large extent the manufacturing industries are supplied with raw materials produced by the agricultural, mining, forestry, and fishing sectors of the Canadian economy.

In 1998 Canada’s gross national product (GNP) was US$580,872 million, equivalent to US$19,170 per capita (World Bank estimate). Federal government annual revenue in 1997 was US$116,823 million; expenditure for the same year was US$141,742 million.

A Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing

The Canadian economy depends heavily on agriculture, which employs about 3 per cent of the labour force. In the early 1990s Canada had some 280,000 farms, which averaged 242 hectares (598 acres) in size. The annual value of farm output amounted to US$18,600 million at that time. Because of its abundant production and relatively small population, Canada is a leading exporter of food products. Its farms are about equally divided between arable and livestock production. Wheat is the most important single crop, and the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan form one of the greatest wheat-growing areas of the world, averaging 16 per cent of global production (half of this coming from Saskatchewan alone). These provinces also grow a large percentage of the coarse grains and oilseeds produced in Canada. After wheat, the major crops in descending order of value are rapeseed, vegetables, barley, maize, potatoes, fruits, tobacco, and soya beans. Annual output totals in 1999 included (in tonnes) wheat, 25 million; barley, 13 million; and maize, 8.12.

Quebec produces 82 per cent of the maple products, and Ontario produces 89 per cent of the nation’s tobacco crop. Fruit-farming takes place in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, with apples contributing about 40 per cent of the total value. Ontario produces about one half of the total vegetable crop, followed by Quebec and British Columbia.

Livestock and livestock products accounted for about 48 per cent of farm cash receipts in 1996. Ranching prevails in the west, and the raising of livestock is a general enterprise, except in parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, where beef cattle form a specialized industry. Ontario and Quebec rank highest in production of dairy products, with about 71 per cent of the national output. In 1999 the livestock population of Canada included about 13 million cattle.

Forestry is a major source of Canada’s wealth, and forest products annually account for more than 11 per cent of the value of Canadian exports. Forests cover some 4.2 million sq km (some 1.6 million sq mi) of the country, and the provincial and federal governments own about 90 per cent of this land. Canada has more than 150 varieties of native trees; about 80 per cent of them are softwoods, such as spruce, Douglas fir, hemlock, cedar, and balsam. Canada’s annual timber harvest in 1998 was about 160 million cu m (5.65 billion cu ft). Forestry sustains a complex and diversified export and domestic industry, employing more than 250,000 people. Canada leads the world in newsprint production, with about 28 per cent, and accounts for more than half of world exports; most of the Canadian export is sent to the United States. The sawmill and planing-mill industry is centred in British Columbia. Quebec and Ontario lead the nation in pulp and paper production.

The fishing resources of the country are harvested from the north-western Atlantic and north-eastern Pacific oceans and from the most extensive bodies of fresh water in the world. In the early 1990s the number of people employed in fishing or fish-processing operations was approximately 114,600. Most of the yearly output of the fishing industry, which has a market value of about US$2,000 million per year, is exported, making Canada one of the world’s pre-eminent fish exporters. The catch, which totalled some 1.5 million tonnes annually in 1991, before dropping sharply to 1,030,523 tonnes in 1997 (in an effort to prevent overfishing of depleted stocks), includes cod, herring, salmon, flounder, lobster, scallops, crab, and redfish.

B Fur Industry Fur trapping (particularly of beaver) had an important role in Canada’s early economic development, and the practice continues today. The value of trapped and farm-raised pelts rose from US$26.5 million in 1960 and 1961 to US$110.8 million in 1987, but declined rapidly in the late 1980s to reach US$36.8 million in 1991. Farming operations consist mainly of raising mink, which contributes more than 90 per cent of the annual value of pelts from fur farms, with fox accounting for virtually all the remainder.

C Mining The mining industry in Canada has a long history. The most significant period of growth, however, has been since 1945, with mineral discoveries in almost every region of the country. Mining is an important source of national wealth; in the early 1990s mineral production was valued at about US$29,300 million. The Canadian mining industry is strongly oriented towards exports, and Canada is one of the world’s leading mineral exporters.

The growth of the mining industry is due in part to petroleum and natural gas discoveries in western Canada; development of huge iron-ore deposits in Labrador and Quebec; the discovery and development of large deposits of nickel in Ontario and Manitoba, uranium in Ontario and Saskatchewan, and potash in Saskatchewan; extraction of sulphur from natural gas in the western provinces; development of copper, lead, and zinc deposits; and the production of gold in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories. The leading minerals in value (1998) are crude petroleum (724 million barrels), natural gas (171 billion cu m/6,036 billion cu ft), natural gas by-products, gold (166,089 kg), copper (706,745 tonnes), zinc (1.06 million tonnes), nickel, coal (75.4 million tonnes), potash, and iron ore (24.9 million tonnes). These minerals together typically account for more than 80 per cent of the value of annual mineral production. Alberta (with its large oil reserves) leads the country by a wide margin in the yearly value of mineral output; it is usually followed by Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Canada usually leads the world in the annual production of asbestos and zinc and ranks among the top countries in the annual production of uranium, cobalt, copper, gold, gypsum, iron ore, lead, molybdenum, nickel, natural gas, platinum-group metals, potash, silver, sulphur, and titanium concentrates. The mining industry is subject to market fluctuations that adversely affect dependent local economies.

D Manufacturing The Canadian economy is largely dependent on manufacturing, and industry, which employs about 14 per cent of the labour force, and accounts for about 20 per cent of the annual GDP. Manufacturing has grown remarkably since 1945. The leading manufactured products, ranked by value of shipments, are motor vehicles and vehicle parts, processed foods, paper and paper products, chemicals, primary metals, refined petroleum, electrical and electronic products, fabricated metals, sawn and planed timber, and printed materials. The most important manufacturing provinces are Ontario, which now accounts for more than half the manufacturing production of Canada, and Quebec, which accounts for nearly a quarter. The chief manufacturing cities include Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton, Vancouver, Windsor, Winnipeg, and Kitchener.

E Tourism The seasons and scenic wonders of Canada draw large numbers of tourists. In the spring, blossom festivals flourish across Canada, especially in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Alberta’s Calgary Exhibition and Stampede in July is world-famous. The Niagara Grape and Wine Festival and autumn-colour tours in central Ontario and the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec are among the other attractions. The abundant snowfall is made use of; skiing centres are expanding. About 730,000 sq km (282,000 sq mi) of scenic areas have been preserved in the natural state for use as national, marine, and provincial parks, such as the world-famous Jasper and Banff national parks. Banff receives more than 4 million visitors annually.

Tourism has become one of the leading industries of Canada. In 1997 the country was visited by some 45 million tourists, of whom about 90 per cent came from the United States. Income from tourism was about US$7,980 million a year in 1996.

F Energy Endowed with many fast-flowing rivers, Canada is the world’s leading producer of hydroelectricity. More than 85 per cent of the country’s hydroelectric output is generated in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and British Columbia. In 1979 the first of nine planned hydroelectric stations on La Grande-Rivičre, near James Bay in Quebec, began operations; when completed, the nine installations, owned and operated by Hydro-Québec, will have a capacity of 15,500 megawatts, more than any other hydroelectric complex in North America. Churchill Falls, in the Labrador region, is another major Canadian hydroelectric facility, with a capacity of 5,428 megawatts.

The first nuclear power plant in Canada (at Rolphton, Ontario) was completed in 1962. Other major nuclear power plants are located at Pickering and the Bruce Peninsula (both in Ontario).

In the mid-1990s Canada had an installed electricity-generating capacity of some 113,000 megawatts. In 1998 the annual output of electricity was about 551 billion kWh, of which 60 per cent was provided by hydroelectric plants, 12 per cent by nuclear power plants, and 27 per cent by conventional plants using fossil fuels. Canada exports about 10 per cent of its energy production to the United States.

G Currency and Banking The unit of currency in Canada is the Canadian dollar, which consists of 100 cents ($1.4415 Canadian dollars equal US$1; 2000).

H Commerce and Trade The per capita foreign trade of Canada ranks among the highest of any nation in the world. The growth since 1945 of Canada’s external trade has been remarkable. In 1998 the value of exports totalled US$214,327 million and imports were valued at around US$206,233 million.

Most of Canada’s foreign trade is with the United States, which typically takes about 80 per cent of Canada’s exports and supplies more than 65 per cent of its imports (indeed the value of Canadian-US trade is greater than between any other two countries in the world). Japan and the United Kingdom are usually Canada’s next leading trade partners. Canada and the United States entered into a Free Trade Agreement in 1988, superseded in 1994 by the North American Free Trade Agreement, which included Mexico.

I Labour The civilian labour force in Canada in 1997 was made up of approximately 13.94 million people. Employment was concentrated in services (7.79 million), in manufacturing (2.17 million), and in trade (2.39 million). Approximately 500,000 people worked in agriculture, forestry, or fishing.

Union membership in the early 1990s exceeded 4 million people, or about 36 per cent of all non-agricultural workers. About 60 per cent of the union members belonged to organizations affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress.

J Transport The natural water and mountain barriers of Canada, combined with a dispersed population, necessitate efficient and economical transport facilities. Since the earliest explorations of the country, water transport has been indispensable. The St Lawrence-Great Lakes navigation system extends some 3,769 km (2,342 mi) from the Gulf of St Lawrence into the centre of the continent. The opening of the St Lawrence Seaway in 1959 contributed greatly to industrial expansion. In the mid-1990s cargo carried through the Montreal-Lake Ontario section of the seaway exceeded 31 million tonnes. Nearly 27,000 vessels engaged in foreign trade entered and cleared Canadian ports annually; cargo unloaded totalled some 77.1 million tonnes, and about 169.8 million tonnes were loaded. The ports in Vancouver, Sept-Īles, Montreal, Port-Cartier, Quebec, Halifax, Saint John (New Brunswick), Thunder Bay, Prince Rupert, and Hamilton together handled most of the total (Vancouver handled a total of 73.5 million tonnes in 1997, maintaining its position as the leading port on the western coast of North America for total tonnage). Canadian merchant vessels of 1,000 gross tonnes or more numbered 62 in the mid-1990s, with a total deadweight tonnage of nearly 804,440.

The rail network in Canada amounts to some 69,677 km (43,295 mi). Of this, about 27,350 km (17,000 mi) is operated in Canada and the United States by Canadian National Railways, which passed out of public ownership to become an investor-owned railway in November 1995. In 2000 Canadian National Railway Co. merged with Burlington Santa Fe corporation to become North American Railways, the largest rail network in North America. Canadian Pacific, also privately owned, serves all of Canada, except Newfoundland Island, Prince Edward Island, and the three territories, and operates some 29,100 km (18,082 mi) of track in Canada and the United States. Nationwide passenger rail transport is provided on about 14,000 km (9,270 mi) of track by VIA Rail Canada, an independent Crown corporation created in 1978.

The total length of the federal and provincial road system in Canada in the mid-1990s was more than 300,000 km (186,420 mi). The Trans-Canada Highway, completed in 1962, stretches from St John’s, on Newfoundland Island, to Victoria, British Columbia, a distance of 7,775 km (4,831 mi). In 1997 there were about 441 cars for every 1,000 people. The Confederation Bridge, spanning 12.9 km (8 mi) from mainland New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, across the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island, opened in June 1997. It is the world’s longest bridge over ice-covered water; the main bridge is constructed using 44 spans and features a navigation span with a clearance of 60 m (196.9 ft) to facilitate the passage of merchant shipping.

Two major airlines, Air Canada and Canadian Airlines International, maintain a broad network of domestic and international routes. Other smaller carriers are licensed. Of the more than 1,200 airfields certified by Transport Canada, the busiest are Lester B. Pearson International Airport, in Toronto; Vancouver International Airport; Dorval and Mirabel international airports, near Montreal; and Calgary International Airport.

K Communications The publicly owned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation owned and operated 65 originating radio stations, including AM, FM, and short-wave, and 29 originating television stations in the early 1990s, broadcasting in English, French, and First Nations languages. A total of 695 private originating radio stations and 116 private television stations were operating. Ninety-nine per cent of households had radio and television sets.

In 1998 there were 634 telephones in service for every 1,000 people in Canada, of which 70 per cent were residential and 30 per cent commercial. Most domestic telephone service is provided by Telecom Canada, a consortium that includes nine telephone companies, seven of which are privately owned. Also within this consortium is Telesat Canada, which was established in 1969 by the federal government and private firms to provide commercial communications via satellite. In 1972 it launched the world’s first stationary communications satellite designed for domestic commercial use. Called Anik I, after an Inuit word for “brother”, the satellite helped provide television broadcasting and telephone service to remote northern Canada.

In 1996 Canada had 107 daily newspapers, with an aggregate daily circulation of 5 million copies. Widely read dailies included the Calgary Herald; the Edmonton Journal; the Province, published in Vancouver; the Vancouver Sun; the Winnipeg Free Press; the Globe and Mail, published in Toronto; the Toronto Star; the Toronto Sun; and the Gazette, La Presse, and Le Journal de Montréal, all published in Montreal. The government-controlled Canada Post provides mail delivery throughout the country.


Canada is mainly governed according to principles embodied in the Constitution Act of 1982, which gave the Canadian government total authority over its constitution. Previously, the British North America Act of 1867 and subsequent laws had reserved some constitutional authority with the British parliament. Canada is a federal union, with a division of powers between the central and provincial governments. Under the original 1867 act, the central government had considerable power over the provinces, but, through amendments to the act and changes brought by practical experience, the provincial governments have increased the scope of their authority. However, considerable tension continues to exist between the federal government and the provincial governments over the proper allocation of power.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, added by the passage of the 1982 Constitution Act to the country’s constitution, guarantees to citizens “fundamental freedoms”, such as those of conscience and the press; “democratic rights” to vote and seek election; “mobility”, “legal”, and “equality” rights to move throughout Canada, to enjoy security of person, and to combat discrimination; and the equality of the French and English languages. The charter changed the Canadian political system by enhancing the power of the courts to make or unmake laws through judicial decisions. It also contains the so-called “notwithstanding” clause, which allows Parliament or the provincial legislatures to designate an act operative even though it might clash with a charter provision.

The head of state of Canada is the sovereign of the United Kingdom, who is represented in Canada by the Governor-General; the head of government is the prime minister, who is responsible to Parliament.

A Executive and Legislature The central government of Canada exercises all powers not specifically assigned to the provinces; it has exclusive jurisdiction over administration of the public debt, currency and coinage, taxation for general purposes, organization of national defence, fiscal matters, banking, fisheries, commerce, navigation and shipping, energy policy, agriculture, postal service, census, statistics, patents, copyright, naturalization, aliens, indigenous peoples, marriage, and divorce. Among the powers assigned to the provincial governments are education, hospitals, provincial property and civil rights, taxation for local purposes, the regulation of local commerce, and the borrowing of money. With respect to certain matters, such as immigration, the federal and provincial governments possess concurrent jurisdiction.

The Canadian parliament consists of two houses: the Senate (composed of 104 members appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the prime minister), and the House of Commons (composed of 301 members apportioned according to provincial population). Senators serve until the age of 75, and House members are elected for five years (or until the House is dissolved) by popular vote. Elections are held at the prime minister’s discretion. Laws must be passed by both houses and signed by the Governor-General.

B Political Parties

The strongest national political parties in Canada during the 20th century have traditionally been the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party, also known as the Tories. However, a voter backlash in the early 1990s has resulted in a great upheaval in the Canadian political picture, and established groups such as these two parties have lost much of their power. Although they agree on many issues, the Liberals have generally supported government intervention to promote the general welfare, while the Conservatives have favoured free enterprise and the limited state. The smaller New Democratic Party, by contrast, endorsed social democracy and the rights of organized labour, and found support in Ontario and the western provinces. The new Alberta-based Reform Party has become an increasingly significant vehicle of conservative sentiment in English Canada, outside the Maritime provinces. The Bloc Québécois, a splinter from the Conservatives, has risen in prominence by espousing sovereignty for Quebec. To a degree, this party acts as the federal arm of the Parti Québécois, a Quebec-based party that held power in the province from 1976 to 1985.

C Judiciary The legal system in Canada is derived from English common law, except in Quebec, where the provincial system of civil law is based on the French Code Napoléon. The federal judiciary is headed by the Supreme Court of Canada, made up of a chief justice and eight puisne (associate) judges, three of whom must come from Quebec. It sits in Ottawa and is the final Canadian appellate court for all civil, criminal, and constitutional cases. The next leading tribunal, the Federal Court of Canada, is divided into a Trial Division and an Appeal Division. Provincial courts are established by the provincial legislatures, and, although the names of the courts are not uniform, each province has a similar three-tiered court system.

D Provincial and Territorial Government The sovereign is represented in each of Canada’s ten provinces by a lieutenant-governor, appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the prime minister. The head of government of each province is the premier, who is responsible to a unicameral provincial legislature. The three territories are governed by federally appointed commissioners, assisted in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut by a legislative assembly and in the Yukon Territory by an elected council and legislature.

E Health and Welfare All levels of government share the responsibility for social welfare in Canada. The federal government administers comprehensive income-maintenance measures, such as the Canada Pension Plan, Canada Assistance Plan, old-age security pensions, family allowances, youth allowances, and unemployment insurance, in which nationwide coordination is necessary. The federal government gives aid to the provinces in meeting the costs of public assistance; it also provides services for special groups, such as First Nations, veterans, and immigrants. Administration of welfare services is mainly the responsibility of the provinces, but local authorities, generally with financial aid from the province, often assume the provision of services. Provincial governments have the major responsibility for education and health services in Canada.

The Medical Care Act, passed in 1966, has permitted the federal government to contribute about half the cost of the Medical Care Insurance Programme (Medicare), with the respective province contributing the remainder. The programme establishes the following minimum criteria: (1) comprehensive coverage, to cover all medically required services rendered by doctors and surgeons; (2) universal availability to all residents; (3) portability, to cover temporary or permanent change in residence to another province; and (4) non-profit basis. In 1994 there were 455 people for every doctor and in 2000 the infant mortality rate was 5 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 1997, 4.60 per cent of government expenditure was spent on health care.

F Defence The Canadian armed forces are integrated and are headed by the chief of the defence staff, who reports to the civilian minister of national defence. Under the defence staff are three major commands, organized according to function: the mobile command, the air command, and the maritime command. Canada is a member of NATO, and Canadian Forces Europe comprises the air and land forces allocated to support NATO in Europe. It also contributes troops to UN peacekeeping operations. In 1998 the Canadian armed forces included about 60,600 people.

G International Organizations Canada is a member of the UN, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Organization of American States, and NATO.

VI HISTORY The history of Canada was shaped by the encounter of its people with the rigours and riches of a vast new land. It was also marked by the achievements and conflicts of its diverse inhabitants—indigenous peoples and French, English, and other European immigrants. A pervasive influence was Canada’s southern neighbour, the United States.

A A Meeting of Peoples North America, from which the country of Canada emerged, received large waves of immigrants from both the West and the East over many thousands of years.

A1 Indigenous Peoples

In a series of migrations that occurred during the last stages of the Pleistocene Ice Age, the settlement of the Americas began when Mongoloid peoples from Asia entered North America, probably crossing the Bering Strait. Gradually they spread over the continent and into South America. By 1600, more than 250,000 of their descendants inhabited what is now Canada. Developing a Stone Age economy, they hunted, fished, and gathered food and, in warmer areas, also farmed. The basic social unit was the band, which varied from a few families to several hundred people. In areas of higher population density, bands were organized into tribes and even confederations of tribes.

The largest linguistic group was the Algonquian, which included migratory hunting tribes such as the Cree and Naskapi in the eastern subarctic region and the Abenaki and Micmac in the eastern woodlands on the coast. By the 18th century, Algonquians had spread west, where the Ottawa, Ojibwa, Blackfoot, Plains Cree, and others roamed the prairies and plains in search of bison. The Iroquoian-speaking tribes—the Huron and the Iroquois—lived in permanent farm settlements and had a highly developed tribal organization in the St Lawrence Valley and around Lakes Ontario and Erie.

Tribes of Salishan, Athabascan, and other linguistic groups occupied fishing villages along the rivers of interior British Columbia. On the Pacific coast, Salishan tribes, such as the Bellacoola, and related Wakashan-speaking tribes—the Kwakiutl and Nootka—developed a rich culture, based on salmon-fishing, expressed in carved wooden totem poles and the lavish displays of wealth in potlatch ceremonies. In the western subarctic, the Athabascan group—Carrier, Dogrib, and others—lived in a nomadic, hunting economy similar to that of the Algonquians. Small, isolated Inuit bands developed a unique culture based on hunting seals and caribou, enabling them to survive the harsh environment of the Arctic.

A2 European Intruders

The first Europeans to reach North America were probably the Icelandic colonizers of Greenland. According to Icelandic sagas, Leif Ericson reached Vinland—somewhere along the North Atlantic coast—about AD 1000. Archaeological evidence suggests that Nordic people established short-lived settlements in Newfoundland. Claims that they penetrated deep into the mainland have not been substantiated.

A second wave of European exploration, between about 1480, when ships from Bristol began fishing off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, and 1540, firmly established the existence of the new land in European minds. Many of the explorers, under government auspices, sought a North West Passage by sea from Europe to Asia’s riches and thus regarded the Canadian land mass as an obstacle as well as a potentially useful discovery. The voyage to Newfoundland in 1497 of John Cabot, a Venetian in English service, inspired a series of further explorations and laid the basis for English claims to Canada.

During the 1530s and 1540s the French explorer Jacques Cartier sailed up the St Lawrence River, claiming the land for France. His failure to find a North West Passage—or gold, as the Spanish had found in Peru—discouraged further exploration. France was also too preoccupied with domestic religious wars to make any substantial commitment. Canada was important, however, to English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese fishing fleets, all of which by then regularly fished the Grand Banks.

English and French interest in Canada revived in the late 16th century, largely for commercial reasons. The English explorers Martin Frobisher in the 1570s and Henry Hudson in 1610 and 1611 continued the fruitless search for a passage to Asia. English fishing interests in the 1630s secured a virtual prohibition on efforts to colonize Newfoundland.

A3 Earliest French Settlements

The French were more successful. Fishermen had noticed the abundance of beaver, whose pelts merchants were eager to market in Europe. The French government, motivated by visions of building an empire in the New World, decided to work through commercial monopolies, which in return for control of the fur trade would foster colonization. A monopoly granted to Pierre du Guast, sieur de Monts, in 1603 established trade settlements in Acadia in 1604 (now New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island) and at Quebec on the St Lawrence. The settlement of Quebec in 1608 owed much to Samuel de Champlain, an explorer hired by de Monts, who became the foremost champion of French colonization. Eventually Champlain convinced Cardinal Richelieu, chief adviser to Louis XIII, of the importance of North America to his mercantilist system of state-aided economic development. In 1627 Richelieu organized a joint-stock company, the Company of One Hundred Associates, to found a powerful centre of French civilization in the New World.

For the following 250 years, geographical factors limited European settlers to relatively small areas of what is now Canada, so that the relationship between them and the indigenous peoples centred on trade (principally the fur trade) rather than conquest. While this avoided the worst bloodshed of what became known in the United States as the Indian Wars, it did not prevent the destruction of indigenous peoples through successive waves of disease (particularly smallpox), and alcohol, which the fur companies used both as an article of trade and as a means of ensuring the submissive compliance of the bands with which they traded.

B New France (1627-1763) As a French possession, New France reflected the interests of the parent country.

B1 A Proprietary Colony

Under the proprietorship of Richelieu’s company, and later its colonial agent, the Community of Habitants (1645-1663), the new French colony took shape along the St Lawrence. In the French feudal tradition, large fiefs of land were granted to seigneurs, men who promised to parcel it out among habitants, or tenant farmers. Frenchmen were induced to emigrate, resulting in a population of about 2,000 by 1666. Hardy, adaptable, and tenacious, many entered the lucrative fur trade, which was brought under central control. New trade settlements were founded, notably at Trois-Rivičres (1634) and Montreal (1642). Further explorations of the interior were carried out by coureurs de bois, adventurous, unlicensed fur traders who wanted to escape company restrictions. Two of them, Pierre Esprit Radisson and Médard Chouart, sieur des Groselliers, explored west of Lake Superior in the 1650s.

Of more lasting significance was the role of the Roman Catholic Church. French Protestants, defeated in France, were prohibited from settling in the new colony. Roman Catholic religious orders were charged with maintaining and spreading the faith. Franciscan Récollet friars arrived in 1614 to convert the indigenous peoples, but were replaced in 1635 by the heroic priests, such as Jean de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, of the richer, better-organized Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits. Later came Ursuline nuns (1639), who educated girls, and Sulpicians (1657), who ran missions. In 1659 a vicar apostolic, the Jesuit-trained Bishop F. X. de Laval-Montmorency, arrived to take command of the missions and to found parishes. The Church increasingly became a powerful, rigidly moralistic force in colonial life.

The survival of New France was uncertain, however, because of almost continuous warfare with the Iroquoian Confederacy. In 1608 Champlain had allied himself with the Algonquians and with the Hurons, who were amenable to missionary activities and acted as the principal suppliers of furs. This alliance, however, antagonized the Iroquoian Confederacy, traditional rivals of the Huron and suppliers of furs to the Dutch in New Amsterdam. After the Iroquois had brutally ravaged Huron country north of the St Lawrence in 1648 and 1649, they turned against New France itself. The fur trade was no longer profitable, and the threat to the colony was now so great that the French considered abandoning it.

B2 A Crown Colony In 1663 Louis XIV’s brilliant minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert reorganized New France directly under royal authority. Administration was divided between a military governor and a more powerful intendant, both ruling from the city of Quebec but under orders from France. The fur trade was granted to a new monopoly, the Company of the West Indies. Defence was improved by the arrival in 1665 of the French Carignan-Saličres regiment, many of whose members stayed on as settlers. The Iroquois menace was ended, although attacks continued sporadically throughout the 17th century. Restructuring the seigneurial system, the Crown deprived uncooperative landowners of their fiefs, granted new blocs of land to promising candidates, and laid down rules to govern seigneurs and habitants. The Church received land and special payments. The Comte de Frontenac, as governor, encouraged further explorations. Those of Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette led to the exploration of the Mississippi River (1673) and those of René-Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle, to the acquisition of Louisiana (1682).

Jean Talon, intendant from 1665 to 1672, set out to establish New France as a prosperous, expanding colony rivalling the thriving English colonies to the south. He invited many new settlers, including young women, until by 1675 the population was almost 8,000. He also tried to diversify the economy beyond furs and build trade with Acadia and the West Indies. Talon was recalled before he could carry out his policies, however. After Colbert’s death in 1683, French interest in the colony waned, and by 1700 it was clear that New France was not going to be self-sufficient. The situation was further complicated by the establishment in 1670 of the Hudson’s Bay Company, a London company set up with the fur-trading expertise of Radisson and Groseilliers, who had gone over to the English. Although it discouraged settlement, the company, granted title to all the land draining into Hudson Bay, played a crucial role in maintaining a British presence in northern and central Canada over the next 200 years.

Under the governor, the intendant, and the bishop, officials, military officers, and seigneurs constituted a little colonial nobility, over-conscious of their rank. Leading merchants, also pursuing status, were influential in the towns. The clergy, almost a separate class altogether, controlled the morals, education, and social welfare of the colonists.

The theoretical authoritarianism of this regime was in fact limited by the vigorous spirit of independence among the people. The artisans were organized into strong guilds, each the focus of its own rituals and ways. They and the rural habitants successfully resisted the colonial government when it infringed on what they considered their traditional rights. The fur trade offered a more rugged alternative if the controls of society were too overbearing.

B3 Anglo-French Rivalry

As the colony developed, it was caught up in the imperial rivalries of England and France, which, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, were locked in a struggle for worldwide control. Europe was one battlefield, North America another. The burgeoning English colonies along the Atlantic Ocean were hemmed in by Acadia and New France in the north and by French expansion in the Mississippi Valley. At the same time, the French felt themselves caught between the Hudson’s Bay Company, which dominated northern Canada, and the English colonies to the south. The inevitable conflict broke out in 1689 as King William’s War (the North American counterpart of the War of the Grand Alliance in Europe). After almost a decade of guerrilla warfare, the Peace of Ryswick (1697) merely confirmed the status quo, even returning Acadia, captured by the English, to the French.

This short-lived truce collapsed in 1702 with the outbreak of Queen Anne’s War (paralleling the European War of the Spanish Succession). In the course of the war, the British recaptured Acadia (1710), this time permanently. By the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), the French ceded Newfoundland and the Hudson Bay region as well. They retained Cape Breton Island and the Īle Saint-Jean (Prince Edward Island).

To compensate for their loss, the French in 1720 built a fortress at Louisbourg on the south-eastern tip of Cape Breton Island. This expensive endeavour was in vain, however. When hostilities recommenced in King George’s War (the North American counterpart of the War of the Austrian Succession), the fortress fell to a joint British-New England force in 1745. Louisbourg was returned to France by the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748).

The succeeding French and Indian War (counterpart of the Seven Years’ War) was disastrous for France. France had attempted to strengthen its position in North America by refurbishing Louisbourg, building forts in the Ohio Valley, and arranging new Native American alliances. New France, however, with a population of roughly 60,000 and an indifferent, war-weary parent country, was weak. It could not uphold French imperialism against a British population of more than 1 million in the 13 American colonies, backed by the military and naval capacity of an expanding Britain. Anglo-French competition in the Ohio Valley sparked conflict in 1754. The next year the British, presuming that their French Acadian subjects were disloyal and urged by New Englanders fearing northern invasion, deported the Acadians to southern Louisiana. In 1758 a British expedition reconquered Louisbourg. A British army under the impulsive young James Wolfe won the crucial battle of the Plains of Abraham against the French, led by the experienced Marquis L. J. de Montcalm, and so gained Quebec. British land forces won control of the west, and the arrival of a British fleet led to the surrender of Montreal in 1760. The result, confirmed by the Treaty of Paris in 1763, was that New France came under British rule.

C British North America (1763-1867)

Under British rule, the population rapidly increased, and ethnic tensions developed.

C1 Shaping of a British Colony

British North America was formed more by historical chance than by design. In 1763 it consisted of four distinct regions. Three, long disputed with France, had been won in 1713. Newfoundland was considered merely a series o

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After decades of negotiations and planning, the Arctic territory of Nunavut came into being on April 1, 1999. It covers almost one fifth of Canada’s land area, comprises nearly 2,000,000 sq km (772,000 sq mi), and has a population of 27,219 (85 per cent of whom are Inuit). In December 1999 Canada’s House of Commons voted in favour of a treaty to grant the Nisga’a indigenous group powers of self-government, granting title to land in north-western British Columbia as well as allowing them the right to levy taxes and pass laws.

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