For the life of me, I can find neither the original form of this joke, nor who said it originally:

"If you think about it, Canada could have been the best country on Earth.

It had the potential to take the best of English culture, French cooking and American engineering.

Instead, they wound up with English cooking, French engineering and American culture!"

Provinces of Canada:


"Ours is a sovereign nation
Bows to no foreign will
But whenever they cough in Washington
They spit on Parliament Hill."

Joe Wallace (1964)

According to Nancy McPhee: The Bumper Book Of Insults (UK 1993, Chancellor Press)

Contrary to popular belief, Canada is not a country with “lumber jacks and curlers.” Nor does Canada equal hockey and beer. What Canada is though, is a multicultural haven, a country where freedom of speech is honoured, health care is not the HMO, and it is a place where the simplest pleasures can be found in our picturesque landscapes.

Canada embraces every race, colour, and religion. This acceptance is evident from British Columbia to Newfoundland. It is almost impossible to walk down any main street in Canada and pass a store or restaurant that is purely Canadian. (Technically, nothing is purely Canadian unless it is of native nature.) Turn on the radio and there are stations that cater to a variety of languages. The same holds true for television, where the station CFMT stands for “Canada’s First Multicultural Television” and its programs range from Italian soap operas to Chinese films. My own city of Hamilton is host to a number of multicultural festivals every year, such at the Festival of Friends and It’s Your Festival.

In 1982, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau gave Canadians the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It states that, “everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communications; freedom of peaceful assembly; and freedom of association.” In many other countries, the word “freedom” is a foreign thought. Canadians are lucky to be able to voice their opinions on any subject, whereas in other countries such an act may result in imprisonment or even execution. It’s comforting to know that in essence the citizens of Canada are the ones who actually run the country.

It is also comforting to know that if I ever become sick, I won’t have to worry about paying for all the care that I may need. All governmental jobs and many other places of employment in Canada are provided with health care plans, which cover most medical costs. Surprisingly enough, Canada is pretty much the only country with this kind of health protection. Even our southern neighbours have to resort to private care and HMOs.

It is no secret that Canada is composed primarily of uninhabited land and that this land is undoubtedly scenic. For years Canadian artists have been capturing the beauty of our land in thousands of paintings: the snow capped Rocky Mountains; the wheat fields that stretch across the sprawling prairies of the mid-west; the Great Lakes of Ontario; and the maritime ports. Canada’s nature and people have also been discovered by a group of Canadian painters, internationally known as the Group of Seven. These seven men have managed to show the world Canada’s beauty and splendor.

I am proud to be a Canadian for more reasons than can be stated. Many people take for granted this great country that we live in as we slowly become Americanized. However, Canada’s independence will continue to shine no matter what happens. We define peace and tranquility. No one will ever “blame Canada.”

Our hopes are high. Our faith in the people is great. Our courage is strong. And our dreams for this beautiful country will never die.

- Pierre Elliott Trudeau

... What can I say about Canada?

The Dominion of Canada is the largest country in North America, bordered on the south by the United States on the west by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska, on the north by the Arctic Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east.

It is, as of the 2001 Census, home to 30,007,094 people. It's a fairly fast growing nation, registering 4% growth between 2001 and 1996. It's estimated that we currently have about 32 million residents.

Canada is diverse, not only in the make up of its citizenry, but in the glorious splendour of its Geography, from the Arctic tundra of the North West Territories, to the rugged coastline of the Atlantic Provinces, to the sweeping grasslands of Saskatchewan, to my favourite, the majestic Rocky Mountains.

Sitting right atop the United States, and absorbing much of their culture through diffusion, Canada is the country that is the most like their neighbours to the south. But not too much. I really can't expect to write a comprehensive writeup on Canada without looking at the similarities, and more importantly, the differences. From the obvious, such as the influence of French culture and our political system, to the less obvious, such as our lower crime rate, and generally more liberal attitude.

Canada is a Constitutional Monarchy. Our government runs upon a parliamentary system, and the current leader of the government is Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is the head of the Coservative Party of Canada, which currently makes up a minority government in the House of Commons. Our legal code generally based upon English common law, except in Quebec, where its based upon the civil law of France, which was in turn based upon Roman laws. More about this later.

Official Stuff

  • Capital City : Ottawa
  • National Anthem : O Canada
  • Official Tree : Maple
  • Official Summer Sport: Lacrosse
  • Official Winter Sport : Hockey
  • Official Animal : Beaver
  • Official Motto : A Mari usque ad Mare (From Sea to Sea)

So anyways, I think I'll start off with a rather quick summary of the geography of Canada. An in-depth look would be much too large for any node, it *IS* a large country after all. Then I shall move on to the culture, politics, and then the history of my favourite country.

Yes, I know this is a very long node. My longest by a factor of two. It's a big country, with an interesting history, and I'd rather not do a half assed job.

A Mari usque ad Mare

I think every Canadian should have a map of Canada in his or her house. It should be displayed in a place where one can sit and contemplate the wonderful vastness of this land. As Canadians we are continuously groping for an identity and a sense of love for our nation. We grapple with the concept, find it somewhat distasteful and leave it for another day. We find American flag waving, hand over heart while belting out Oh, say, can you see... too much and avoid doing the same. We admire their national spirit, but Canadians are, in contrast, understated. To understand the identity that exists in our hearts think of our sweepingly majestic home, its quiet, serene beauty. A beauty recognizable to us all. We are proud of this nation and of who we are. We just don't say it. It's like the map. It just sits there on the wall displaying the lines of our coasts, the bulk of our waterways, and the breadth of our northern territories. Surveying all of this leaves me in awe. It brings a tear to my eye...O Canada...
- Debora O'Neil

The Geography of Canada really needs its own node. No, scratch that, the Geography of Canada really needs a dozen nodes of its own. We've got a total area of 9,976,140 square kilometers, with everything from rainforest to frozen wastelands. Land mass wise, we're the 2nd largest country in the world. People write books on this stuff. I'm going to try and give you a quick overview.

anthropod says re Canada: with the breakup of the Soviet Union we must be the largest country in the world, no?
anthropod says Humph. Damn russians. ;-)
  • Vancouver Island

    Vancouver Island lies off the western coast of British Columbia. Well, that's not really true, since it's a part of B.C., but you get the idea. It's covered mostly with forests, with some rainforest, and a mountain range in the middle. Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, near the southern tip of the island, gets great weather and is quite popular as both a tourist destination, and a choice for retirement.

    Tourism, Forestry, and Mining are fairly big on the island, and they've got some nice fishing there.

  • British Columbia and the Yukon

    The coastal area of B.C. is quite like Vancouver Island, with much forested area, and a few mountains. It's quite temperate, with some of the highest winter low temperatures in the country, which is what attracts many people to Vancouver. On the other hand, it also gets a *lot* of rain. Something on the par of 300 days of precipitation per year.

    Moving inland, you get less rain and more sun, a good example of this being the Okanogan Valley, which is the centre for fruit growing in the province. Moving northward, up on into the Yukon Territory, it basically stays the same, except colder.

    Again, Forestry is B.C.'s biggest industry, followed by Tourism. There's some mining, and some agriculture, and still the fishing. Salmon mostly.

  • Rocky Mountains

    Between British Columbia and Alberta, stretching down into the States at the 49th, and reaching up through the Yukon to stretch into Alaska, are the Majestic Rockies.

    They are... a string of mountains, mostly snow capped throughout the year, sparsely covered with trees. What does this add up to? IMHO, the most beautiful scenery in North America.

    It's this scenery, as well as some world class skiing, that fuels the tourism industry in places like Banff, Kimberly, and Jasper. Everyone should visit Banff National Park, the country's first national park, at least once in their life. I live an hour and a half drive from there. Lucky me.

  • Prairie Provinces

    Once the Foothills of the Rockies settle down as you head eastward, you reach the rolling grasslands of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, the Prairie Provinces.

    Much of this area is, naturally, devoted to agriculture. And, let's face it, grassland isn't exactly all that exiting. The flatter the more boring. It gets *real* flat in Saskatchewan. This area makes up most of these provinces, gradually turning into woodlands in the north.

    The economy is mostly farming in Saskatchewan, most of Manitoba, and Southern Alberta. Up in the north of Alberta, they have some forestry, but the main bulk of the economy for the province is in the oil and gas sector.

    And of course, much of the economy feeds off the oil and gas, fueling hi-tech stuff of various types. Calgary has the 2nd highest number of corporate head offices in the country, behind Toronto, because of this.

  • Far North

    The further north you go, the colder it gets. Plant and animal life dies off. Once you get to the Tundra, with its Permafrost soil, there are very few plants capable of surviving during the times of the year where at least the top layer of soil is melted, let alone plants capable of thriving in these conditions.

    Barren. Frozen. Wasteland.

    That's pretty much what everyone thinks about the Far North, and while it's not entirely accurate, it's pretty close to the truth.

    Mostly mining, if I recall correctly.

    We've also got a whole bunch of ice covered islands in the Arctic Ocean. Hard to tell the difference at times, since 10 months of the year, the Ocean is frozen. The largest of these would be Baffin Island.

  • Canadian Shield

    The Canadian Shield is a vast area of land, pretty much extending outwards from Hudson Bay. It covers most of Ontario, about half of Manitoba, almost all of Quebec, and most of Nunavut.

    The area is rocky, with only a thin layer of topsoil, due to the effects of glaciers covering the region in the last ice age. It tends to be fairly heavily wooded. It is quite hilly, with many small lakes. Generally unsuited to farming, there are often mining operations.

    It stretches down till you get to some much larger lakes, the Great Lakes, down in the south of Ontario.

    This region has a lot. It's got mining, it's got tourism, it's got forestry, it's got hydro-electric power. It's got farming. It's got Ottawa.

  • St. Lawrence Lowlands

    The areas around the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River are surrounded by flat, fertile lowlands, generally lightly wooded. The weather further inland generally gets more and more temperate. They grow some damned tasty corn down there.

    This area is where the highest concenration of Canada's manufacturing sector is, and the highest population density, so of course it's got the business too. They're keeping busy.

  • Maritime Provinces

    It has been quite some time since I've been that far east, so I'm likely foggy on the subject. Feel free to /msg me with corrections. Actually, that goes for pretty much anything in this writeup.

    Anyways, the Maritime Provinces seem to be green and hilly, with some forests. New Brunswick in paticular has a decent forestry industry. The coastline is generally quite steep, with many a rocky cliff and a whole bunch of bays and gulfs, including the Bay of Fundy, which has the steepest tides in the world.

    They've got a strong tourism industry, especially in Prince Edward Island. There's forestry, farming, and other assorted random industries.

    Update: And it's been pointed out that I left out Nova Scotia from this section. Again, I don't really know all that much about Nova Scotia, so I'm going to assume that geographically and such it's pretty much the same. Still, gotta give props to a place that's Latin for New Scotland. Latin rocks.

  • Newfoundland

    The Rock. It's wet, it's foggy, it's windy, it's got a lot of trees, and it's rocky.

    They used to have a lot of fish, but due to over fishing and general mis-management, they don't anymore. When they finally figured this out, and severely curtailed fishing from the Grand Banks, unemployment soared. In all honesty, Newfoundland was there because of the fish.

    It's really not a very nice place to live.

    Update: Apparently I am incorrect!

    2006.01.26 at 06:43 frankdeluxe says Hey, I just read your Canada writeup. I'm from Newfoundland, and Newfoundland is a great place to live.

Bah, enough ranting for now.

CtF reminded me I should say something about the debt. Canada does owe a lot of money. Currently, the Federal Government owes a little less than $550 Billion. This isn't a good thing, but thankfully past budgets have seen the national debt steadily decreasing.

I could only find figures for the total debt of all the provinces combined, but that's something along the lines of $240 Billion. Of course, some of them, such as B.C. and Newfoundland have more than others, such as Alberta, but I'd imagine it's roughtly spread out on a per capita basis.

To date, Alberta is the only one that has made its main goal reducing the debt, whereas some keep running at a deficit. I'm not saying that every province should take Alberta's approach, because that came at a cost of massive cuts to Education and Health Care, but they really should look at it more. Paying off interest is generally not productive.

And a little update. In the summer of 2004, the Alberta government announced that it now has allocated all the money nessessary to pay off the debt. Any further surplus generated by oil revenues is an actual surplus now.

Who are we, what are we doing in this cold place?

Canadians have been so busy explaining to the Americans that we aren't British, and to the British that we aren't Americans that we haven't had time to become Canadians.

- Helen Gordon McPherson

How do you define what it's like to be Canadian?


No, it's not a rhetorical question, I'd like to know.

How do you define what it's like to be Canadian. Most of the time it seems like you can't do it except by saying how we're different, how we're different from the Americans, from the British, from the French, from the Aussies. What is there about our citizens that we can put in terms of "We're not like them this way".

I think I'll take the easy way out, and do it that way. It goes a fair bit deeper than The differences between Canadians and Americans. Keep in mind that pretty much anything I say in this section is just my opinion.

So what is there? Well, we're not very violent people, not nearly as much as the Americans, although perhaps a bit more than the British. If you want stats, go watch Bowling for Columbine.

We're basically socialist, even here in redneck Alberta, we really like our health care system, and aren't about to give it up. Being a socialist isn't essential to being Canadian, there's plenty of people opposed to the idea, i.e. the Canadian Alliance, but when you add it all up, and compare it to other countries, that's pretty much what you get.

We export a *lot* of Comedians. Apparently we're all supposed to be funny. I guess I can see that to some extent, all I know is that I'm pissed off that Rick Mercer isn't on 22 Minutes anymore.

We don't spend as much on the military as others. It'd be a safe bet to say that most Canadians would rather us focus on helping out others, as opposed to doing silly stuff like propping up dictators, or acting as police to the world.

And then of course there's the mix of French and English culture. It is rather pervasive, more so the further east you travel, of course. But still, even here in good old redneck Alberta, there's a fairly extensive French immersion education program, and I don't know many people who didn't take at least a few years of French in school.

But, yeah, I don't really know what to say about this, anyone with more insight please /msg me.

One rather major difference between us and the United States is our attitudes towards drinking. The drinking age in the United States is 21. The drinking age in Canada is either 18 or 19, depending on province.

Does this mean that our teenagers drink more than American teens? Not bloody likely. It has been my experience that most Americans start drinking younger than their Canadian counterparts. Not only that, but when they do drink, they drink harder.

We're more likely to sit down and have a single beer with lunch, or a glass of wine with dinner, instead of out and getting absolutely wrecked. Now, I'm not saying that Canadians don't binge drink at all, just that it happens less often. What causes this? Methinks an after effect of Prohibition, but no one can really say.

I'm not really sure what else I can throw in here about how we may be different, so let's talk about some similarities, shall we?

Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which the mere presence of the United States has produced. We're different people from you and we're different people because of you. Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is effected by every twitch and grunt. It should not therefore be expected that this kind of nation, this Canada, should project itself as a mirror image of the United States.

- Pierre Elliott Trudeau

We absorb American culture. Every Hollywood blockbuster is played on screens across Canada, every music video is on MuchMusic, every new single on our radio stations, every paperback on the book stores.

I mean, when the CRTC actually feels the need to regulate a minimum amount of Canadian content on radio and television, you know that at least some people view it as a problem. But what can you honestly do? 300 million people versus 30 million people, no matter what you try, stuff's going to seep across the border.

There are really no elements of American culture that don't exist in Canada, in some amounts. We've got the stoners, we've got the yuppies, we've got the gang violence, we've got the family with 2.4 kids and a dog, we've got the white kids pretending to be black. Just less of some things, and more of others. And some of them speak French. And they get free health care.


Canada is an interesting place - the rest of the world thinks so, even if Canadians don't.

- Terence Green


So, Anthropologists and Archaeologists figure that the first people living in what is now Canada arrived via the Bering Land Bridge about 15,000 B.C.E.

The First Nations spread out over the land, fished, hunted, and all that fun stuff, split into countless tribes and nations, and grew complex cultures.

And then the white man came and ruined it all. They tend to do that.

The hammer of the gods
Will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying:
Valhalla, I am coming!

The first European explorer who landed upon the shores of modern day Canada was Leif Eriksson, who around 1000 C.E. hit Baffin Island, Labrador, and then spent the winter in Newfoundland, before heading back to Greenland. He was doing this to impress his father, but when he got back, he found out his father had died, and he had to take over, and never did get around to coming back.

There was a settlement of Vikings in Newfoundland, or Vinland as they called it, but they were eventually driven off by conflicts with those Natives already there.

New France

The next person to land upon the shores of Canada was John Cabot, who was of course looking for Asia. He came back to England and told the king all about it, and about how they could catch massive amounts of cod off the banks of his "new found land".

When they eventually figured out that they hadn't reached Asia, interest in the area waned. They made fishing trips, but let's face it, fish is nothing compared to the silks and the spices that they were hoping for.

Anyhow, eventually France sent their own guy to check things out, and in 1534 Jacques Cartier charted the area around Newfoundland, and up into the St. Lawrence River. The next year he came back, and focused more upon the St. Lawrence, exploring the north bank of the river, such as the present day Quebec City, and naming a mountain behind an Indian village Mont Real.

In 1541, France tried to establish a colony about where Quebec City is. After about 60 of the colonists died of scurvy and the harsh winter, they gave up and sailed home, not coming back for another 50 years.

But anyways, people kept coming for the fish, and as they picked up fish, they also traded with the Natives for furs. This trade grew more and more lucrative, and eventually, in an effort to get people to establish permanent colonies, the French king began giving exclusive fur trading rights to those who would set up colonies.

A couple of these were established, and then failed. The first successful one was established by Pierre de Guast, on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. He brought along an explorer by the name of Samuel de Champlain, who quickly got to charting the coastline around Nova Scotia, and the NE Coast of the United States.

Two years after its founding, in 1607, the monopoly on the fur trade was revoked, and Champlain convinced everyone to move, setting up the first permanent colony at Quebec City.

These colonies grew, slowly but steadily, with a few disruptions. Meanwhile, the English seemed to be concentrating upon their colonies in the south, which the exception of a few people still trying to reach the North West Passage, such as Henry Hudson, who found Hudson Bay in 1610, but was set adrift when he insisted upon continuing north west, *after* being stuck in the bay by ice for the winter. His crew made it back to tell people about the discoveries made.

The French not only set up fur trading posts, but also sent in missionaries, to convert the locals to Christianity. That was real nice of them, wasn't it? It's also around this time that the Natives started dying off of diseases brought from Europe, that they of course had no defences built up against.

The English Take Over

So, eventually, the English figured out that the way to get rich off this land was furs, and not spices from China or Gold like there was further south.

The Hudson's Bay Company was founded in 1670, and given exclusive fur trading rights in all areas whose rivers drained into the Hudson Bay. That's a lot of land.

Trading was brisk until 1689, when war broke out between England and France, as they tended to do back in the day.

This is pretty much the way it went for quite some time, new settlements, trading posts, forts, military instillations popping up all over the place, and every once in a while, they'd get together to burn the other's down.

And as this was going on, the French pretty much steadily lost. For example, in Queen Anne's War, 1702-1713, they lost Port Royal, the territory around Hudson's Bay, Newfoundland, and Acadia.

And then, in 1756, the Seven Years War broke out in Europe, which of course carried over to the colonies. Things for the English were going pretty well, except for Quebec, where the French General Montcalm was adept at using the natural defences of the area, the cliffs and such.

Eventually, the British General James Wolfe decided to launch a risky night time landing, and was able to defeat the French come morning, in the battle on the Plains of Abraham.

Both Wolfe and Montcalm were mortally injured in the battle, but it was this battle that pretty much decided which of the super powers would be in charge of this part of North America, since Montreal quickly fell, cut off from supplies and reinforcements from France.

But after the war was over, and the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, the English had a different problem. What the hell are they to do with the 60,000 or so Frenchmen living in their new colony?

Acadia and Louisiana

They dealt with the French in Acadia differently than they did with the ones in New France, for some reason. We'll go into Acadia first

Now, the British didn't really trust this paticular group of Frenchmen. I don't know why, some of my sources say that they didn't care who was ruling, as long as they were left alone, some said that they didn't want the British to be in charge at all. Who's right? Little of column A, little of column B i'm sure. Anyhow, they decided that these guys should be required to pledge allegience to the King, and convert from Catholicism, if they wanted to stay.

Some of they did do so, but most of them didn't. So they got deported. All of those who refused to pledge got shipped off to France's other holdings in the Americas. In other words, they got shipped to Louisiana.

This is the source of the cajun culture that permeates that region of the United States to this day.

You Rebel Scum

Well, in New France they tried things out for a bit, thought about it, and eventually, in 1774 passed the Quebec Act. This landmark piece of legislation recognized the Roman Catholic Church's influence in the area, guaranteeing their right to collect tithes, and also said that French civil law would govern dealings between citizens, instead of English common law. That's still the way it works today, with 9 provinces and 3 territories dealing with common law, and Quebec with their civil code.

It also set the boundaries of Quebec as stretching all the way down to the Ohio River.

While this was likely a pleasant surprise for the Frenchmen living in Quebec, their neighbours to the south didn't really like that anywhere west to them was now a part of this new territory. This, combined with that whole taxation without representation that England decided to do to pay off debts incurred during the fighting for Quebec, and other random jackassery, prompted the 13 colonies to revolt from their King.

Rather silly, if you ask me.

Anyhow, it was probably a good thing that the English got on the good side of the people of Quebec, because otherwise they might have had some trouble raising the militia that they needed to defend the place when the Americans tried to "free the 14th colony".

As it was, in 1775 an army led by Richard Montgomery captured Montreal, with the Canadian governor, Sir Guy Carlton, barely escaping in time to reach Quebec City and organize a defence against an army led by Benedict Arnold.

They held a siege of the fortress over the winter, but Montgomery was killed, and Arnold was injured, as well as a fair proportion of their men, so they gave up and went home, leaving Canada alone for a while.

Anyhow, eventually the Americans kicked the British out, but there were a lot of them who were either still loyal to the British crown, or just didn't want to stick around anymore. They all headed north.

This was the first serious influx of English speaking residents since the beginning of the New France experiment. This required a bit of juggling of the borders. About 35,000 people settled in the Maritime region, so they split that into New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.

About 5,000 made the longer trek to the lands to the north and to the west of Lake Ontario, and north of the St. Lawrence River, just to the east of the lake.

That settlement kept growing, and it became clear after a while that they weren't going to settle for the limited rights given to them by the Quebec Act, not to mention the French Laws.

So, they enacted the Constitutional Act in 1791, which split Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada, Upper being roughly where Ontario is, and Lower Canada about where Quebec is. It also set out the people to be governed by a legislative council and a legislative assembly, the former being selected by appointment for life, and the latter being elected by the people.

Sound Familiar?

Rupert's Land

Anyhow, people started exploring / trading further west, due to the fierce competition between the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company. In 1793 Alexander Mackenzie became the first person make it across the Rocky Mountains, and reach the Pacific Ocean. He arrived a few weeks after Captain George Vancouver had explored the same area by sea.

The first settlers in Western Canada were some Scottish farmers who had lost their farms back home. They settled in the Red River Valley, near present day Winnipeg, in 1817. Although there was some fighting between the settlers and some of the traders of the North West Company, along with the Metis living in the area, the settlement stuck around.

And the White House burned, burned, burned, And we're the ones that did it!

The British were still managing to piss off the Americans. So, the Americans decided to try and drive the British off the continent. It didn't really work out that way.

Their initial offences floundered, leading to the capture of several key American military instillations, including the fortress at Detroit.

The British fleet pretty much had blockaded the Americans, enabling them to attack the coast at will. Although the American army had a few victories in Canada, they never gained any significant foothold in the area, and were repelled. The British made some offensives, including winning a battle at Washington, D.C, where they burned down the Presidential Palace, aka the White House.

Eventually, the Americans got better, or the British got worse, because attacks by the British after that generally got repelled. The Americans weren't doing well at all, and the British figured out that they weren't going to be able to re-conquer America, so they decided to settle their differences, signing the Treaty of Ghent to end the war on Christmas Eve, 1814.

And then, two weeks later came the Battle of New Orleans, a resounding victory for the Americans, pretty much the only one they had in the war. But that doesn't really have much to do with Canada anyways.

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3

So, the British passed the Union Act in 1840, which changed Upper and Lower Canada into West Canada and East Canada. They tried out the whole responsible government thing, and it seemed to be going along well. The real test came in 1849, with the passing of the Rebellion Losses Bill.

The Bill was to help pay for damages caused by the riots in 1837, and many felt that this money would just be going back to the rebels who caused it. To make a long story short, the governor-general passed it, despite his own personal objections to it. He got rocks thrown at him, his windows smashed, but hey, this whole democracy thing was working.

In the meantime, a lot of people were moving to Canada. Roughly 800,000, between 1815 and 1850. Most of these ended up in West Canada, since it had more usable land readily available.

They started running into problems, with the legislative assembly never able to agree on stuff, since it was worked so that East and West had the same representation. An idea tossed around was reorganize into separate provinces, let them deal with their own stuff, and only have the Federal Government worry about stuff that affects all the provinces.

Oh hey look, some of the Maritime colonies are already having a conference to talk about the same thing. Let's go join in, eh?

Canada Day!

They talked, and eventually got the British legislature to pass the British North America Act. Creating the Dominion of Canada, it was passed into law on July 1, 1867. In the beginning, there were four provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario.

As for exactly how things were set up, it's pretty much exactly the same as above in the politics section. This act, and various amendments, was Canada's constitution for more than a century.

Expansion and the Red River Rebellion

So, the early leaders of Canada figured out that they needed to expand westward, if for no reason other than fear that the United States would expand northward and cut off Canada's link to the Pacific. This wasn't all that out of the question, after all, only a few months before Confederation, the US had purchased Alaska from Russia.

So, the Canadian government purchased all the land from the Hudson's Bay Company, and it was renamed the North West Territories, and it pretty much covered all the land between Ontario and the Rocky Mountains.

Of course, at the time there wasn't much out there. The only major settlement was the Red River colony, near present day Winnipeg. Most of the people living there were Metis, a group whose roots went back, usually only one or two generations, to a union between a member of one of the First Nations, and of the French traders.

Well, when the government sent out a governor to take over the new territory, some of them didn't really like this idea. Following their leader, Louis Riel, they took over Fort Garry, and set up a provisional government. They also sent demands to Ottawa, along the lines of protecting the civil rights and land claims of his people.

Apparently they were sparked off by a bunch of the newer settlers from Ontario trying to turn Manitoba into English-speaking Protestant Land. This didn't go over well with the French speaking Catholic metis.

This probably would have gone over well, but there were some settlers there from Ontario who opposed him. So Riel had a number of them imprisoned, and had one of them executed.

Well, thankfully two men, Bishop Alexander Tache and Donald Smith, travelled to Ottawa to actually talk to the government, and in 1870, the Manitoba Act was passed, making them Canada's 5th province. At the time, it was little larger than the settlement itself, but since then it has grown a fair bit.

The act guaranteed the rights of the citizens to the language, religion, and schooling of their choice. In other words, most of what Riel was asking for.

So, they sent out some soldiers to bring some law and order to the region, and Riel left in a fairly big hurry.

Expansion and the Canadian Pacific Railway

Summer, 1871, Canada talked British Columbia into becoming the 6th Province. They did this mostly by promising to build a transcontinental railway, to be started within two years, and finished in ten years.

Well, to get a railway through the Rocky Mountains was one of the most difficult feats of engineering of the time. And to do so, they started importing cheap Chinese labour. Immigration from Asia hasn't slowed up all that much since them, especially not once the railroad was finally completed, a bit late, in 1885.

With the completion of the railway, the tiny port of Vancouver suddenly became one of the busiest on the Pacific Ocean, and it began booming like you wouldn't believe.

It is the gateway of choice for most new arrivals to the country from Asia, and currently has the 3rd largest Asian population in North America.


Anyhow, they convinced Prince Edward Island to become the 7th province in 1873. I don't really know why. My reference says that it was because of work on the part of the railway that was in the Maritimes that did it, but since that never actually reached the island, that makes little sense.

P.E.I. didn't get an actual link to the mainland until the completion of the Confederation Bridge, in 1997. Much like the railway, crossing the 14 kilometers of the Northumberland Strait was one of the more impressive engineering feats of its time.

Update: stewacide tells me that they joined because Canada agreed to take over their national debt, which they got building their own railways on the island, and bought out a bunch of land owned by foriegn investors who didn't really care about the island.

Rebellion! Again...

Well, looks like old Louie was up to his old tricks. In 1885, he stirred up an uprising against the federal government in the south of Saskatchewan, and this time he had the support of a number of the local indian tribes, in addition to the Metis.

Anyhow, armed rebellion being one of those things that governments usually make a habit of not ignoring, they sent over some soldiers, and quashed it. Eventually he was hanged for treason, but it was one of the most controversial decisions that the courts have ever made in this country.

More farmers, Yay!

Things were going well for the country. They were finding some good places to mine in B.C. and northern Ontario, and of course there was the Yukon Gold Rush in 1897.

Anyhow, the country kept growing, especially in the relatively sparsely settled prairies. We were selling more and more wheat on the international market, which means more farmers. Eventually, in 1905, they figured that it'd be sustainable to carve two new provinces out of the N.W.T, and so they created Saskatchewan, west of Manitoba, and Alberta (Yay Alberta!) between Sask. and B.C.

That's #'s 8 and 9, if you're keeping track. Or if you're not keeping track I guess, if you were keeping track, you'd know that already.

Canada and War

The first military action that Canadian soldiers saw after Confederation was some limited role in the Boer War. Laurier, the Prime Minister at the time, didn't really want to help out Britain in Africa, but all the other cool colonies were doing it.

Then came along World War I. When Great Britain declared war upon Germany, Canada and most of the other self governing colonies got pulled in along with her. However, we got to decide to what extent we'd participate.

At the time, Canada's Armed Forces was made up entirely of volunteers, as it is now. However, casualties mounted, and they needed replacements. The idea of conscription was generally supported throughout most of the country, except for Quebec. They hated the idea in Quebec. I'm not really sure why, what with how much of the war was being fought in France, but that's a subject for another node.

UPDATE: Effovex says Why Quebec was against conscription: The rest of Canada wanted conscription because of pro-British sentiment. Quebec obviously didn't have much love for the British, whom they still saw as invaders. In Quebec, until the 60's, (and ironically, the rise of separatism), English interests controlled the economy. The best French speakers could aspire to be was a "professional": doctor, lawyer, politician. French people for the most part worked for English bosses.

Politically, Quebec was on an equal footing with the rest of Canada, but for the general population mostly felt like they were dominated by the English. They also had very little contact with France, and didn't share anything with them besides languages. So really, why would they want to die for either the british, who they saw almost as an enemy, or for the french, whom they barely knew since commerce was handled by Englishmen.

Anyhow, in the end, over 619,000 people served in some fashion during WWI, over 60,000 dying, leaving far too many buried In Flanders Fields.

They saw heavy fighting, and gained the respect of many of the others on the battlefield, with notable achievements including the Battle of the Somme, and Vimy Ridge

Between the Wars

To start off with, there were some discussions between the various members of the British commonwealth, and to make a long story short, the got the Statute of Westminster passed.

This little law stated that any laws passed in the United Kingdom wouldn't take effect in any dominion, unless they ask for it. For example, when WWII broke out, Canada wasn't automatically at war with Germany when Britain declared war. They waited a full week until they too declared war.

Hey, it's better than waiting till 1941, eh?

And, also, there was of course the Great Depression. It sucked. Everyone was poor, and there were horrible droughts on the Prairies. The soil was so dry that the winds just blew away layers of topsoil. It's kind of hard to grow crops without topsoil.

Thankfully that didn't last. Kind of hard to fight *another* World War if you're starving.

Here we go again...

Once again, the conscription issue. Prime Minister King had earlier promised not to conscript people this time around. He needed to take that back, without looking like a lying backstabbing bastard. So he held a national referendum. Once again, everyone except Quebec was in favour. I'm sure that the reasons they were opposed are pretty much the same as the last time.

Over a million Canadians served in the 2nd World War, and they saw fighting in every theatre of war. Canadian troops landed in Normandy on D-Day, and some of them managed to take their beach, get up the hill, and then take some other German defences from behind, where some American troops where trying to get up the hill, saving many of those who were still below them.

On a much more negative note, there was also the internment of nearly all Japanese Canadian citizens, one of the more sorry footnotes in our history.

And like the Americans, and I imagine a number of other countries, the war effort, and the corresponding increase in productivity, revitalized the country's economy, bringing an end to the Great Depression.

Newfies Ahoy!

So yeah, remember that Newfoundland that we talked about waaaayyyy back in the beginning? They finally decided to join the country in 1949, after a *very* close referendum. We're glad to have them, because they brought along some rum, and without them, Fort McMurray would be a ghost town.

What else happened? Ok, we sent people to fight in the Korean War, about 27,000 people from all 3 branches of the Armed Forces.

In 1965, we finally got our own flag. Red Maple Leaf in the middle on a white background, with two Red strips on both sides. Beautiful.

Oh yeah, and then there was the whole Separatism thing.

Starting to gain mass popularity in the 60's, there sprung up a movement in the province of Quebec, where apparently a lot of people think that they should separate from the rest of Canada, and become their own country. This has pretty much been *the* issue that has dominated the political scene since then.

The argument is rather simple. Quebec has its own unique culture, language, etc, and shouldn't have to put up with us ignorant Anglophones.

In 1970, a rather militant group of separatists, the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ), kidnapped James Cross, the British Trade Commissioner, and the Quebec Minister of Immigration and Labour, Pierre Laporte. Well, to make a long story short, Pierre Trudeau, the Prime Minister, with the backing of the House of Commons, invoked the War Measures Act, in effect calling for Martial Law. Less than a day after that, Laporte was dead.

In the end, the kidnappers were allowed to flee to Cuba, and martial law revoked.

Of course, the heavy-handed approach that Trudeau used to deal with the situation pissed off a *lot* of Québécois voters. But then again, Trudeau didn't exactly go out of his way to avoid pissing people off, he knew how to piss off other parts of the country too.

In 1976, the province of Quebec elected the Parti Québécois to its legislature, with leader René Lévesque as premier. The ultimate goal of this party is an independent Quebec. So, in true Canadian fashion, they held a referendum.

But, the problem with the referendum is the actual question asked. It's my opinion that they wussed out with asking if people supported full independence, so they asked something silly about negotiating with the government for future sovereignty. Rather a waste of ballots, if you ask me. Anyhow, that referendum failed.


Canada had what some people saw as a problem. Our constitution, the British North America Act, was an act of the British legislature. So what, if we want to change it, we have to go ask the Brits to do it for us? I don't think so.

So, Trudeau made it his pet project to patriate our constitution. He haggled with the provinces about how to actually go about this. Quebec, under Lévesque balked at every step, because they wanted written in the constitution recognition that Quebec is a distinct society.

If you want to know the full story, go read the node. To make a long story short, the Supreme Court didn't clear up what was needed to change the constitution at all, and Trudeau just got the approval of every province *but* Quebec, and took that to Britain, and got the Canada Act passed. This was in 1982.

And there was much rejoicing.

Until people noticed the notwithstanding clause, which allows Provinces to ignore certain sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Personally, I think that's one of the stupidest ideas ever, but hey, I'm not that bright.

Much ado about nothing

The next while was dominated with haggling with Quebec about getting them to agree with the new Constitution and such.

There was a summit at Meech Lake. The Premiers and the Prime Minister and various others got together to talk about how to resolve their differences.

They agreed to a list of stuff, but the gist of the Meech Lake Accord was:

  • Quebec is a distinct society, and can pass laws to preserve that identity
  • Senators and Supreme Court Justices will only be appointed from lists given to the government by the provinces.
  • Everyone has to agree to make a new province, or make major changes to the way the Senate is run.
  • If you opt out of a program, you can still get paid for it as long as you have something similar.

Everyone agreed. We were all happy.


Until some elections happened. Manitoba and New Brunswick never got around to approving the accord before electing new governments, and the new Newfoundland premier withdrew the approval given by the last guy.

Well, I guess that was a waste of time, let's try again!

The Charlottetown Accord was different. It dealt mostly with defining what powers were the domain of the provinces, and which were the federal government's, and which were a little of both.

It had a clause, which defined some values integral to the nature of Canada, one of them being that Quebec is a distinct society.

Thankfully, it didn't place any requirements that everyone agree on some stuff, because I don't think that's ever going to happen.

Instead of asking the Premiers, they put this one up for a referendum, in October of 1992. It didn't do, with about 54% of those opposed, nationally, although it did pass in 5 provinces. Eh, I would have voted for it, if I wasn't 11 at the time.

Oh look, another referendum

In 1995 Quebec tried again. Again, the question was vague, asking something about sovereignty association, whatever that is. I heard suggestions that they'd still be using Canadian money, Canadian passports, and the like. Personally I don't think the rest of the country would go for that. You're either part, or you're not. No bullshit halfway deals.

Anyhow, this one was close. Like 50.4% opposed. Thankfully, support for separatism seems to have been steadily decreasing since then, and I don't think that's gonna change unless the government really screws up.


About 25,000 people live in the eastern half of the North West Territories, 20,000 of these are of Inuit decent. Some of them got the idea of trying to get their own territory, and it worked.

In 1999 they carved up the North West Territories again, with the eastern part changing to Nunavut, a new territory. The word translates into "Our Land" in Inuktitut.


Ok, I've skimmed over a lot of things. I'm sorry, but this is a long writeup, as I'm sure you'll have noticed if you didn't just scroll down to the bottom.

There's some other stuff, like us entering into NAFTA, our role in the war on terror, the current state of our military forces, unsettled native land claims, and other stuff that I haven't touched on here. Hopefully myself or someone will get aro

Ca*ña"da (?), n. [Sp.]

A small cañón; a narrow valley or glen; also, but less frequently, an open valley. [Local, Western U. S.]


© Webster 1913

Can"a*da (?), n.

A British province in North America, giving its name to various plants and animals.

Canada balsam. See under Balsam. --
Canada goose. (Zoöl.) See Wild goose. --
Canada jay. See Whisky Jack. --
Canada lynx. (Zoöl.) See Lynx. --
Canada porcupine (Zoöl.) See Porcupine, and Urson. --
Canada rice (Bot.) See under Rick. --
Canada robin (Zoöl.), the cedar bird.


© Webster 1913

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