History of Canada

History of Canada

Canada's history is rich and diverse, and was inhabited for at least a millennia by Aboriginal peoples who evolved social hierarchies, spiritual beliefs, and trade networks. After this, European settlers from France and later on Britain settled in Canada. As opposed to the United States, relations between Europeans and the Aboriginal peoples were relatively peaceful which creates a great history for such a democratic and multicultural nation.

The Canadian Aboriginal people first arrived around 16,000 years ago. The routes they took are debated, however we do know that Old Crow Flats, Queen Charlotte Islands, as well as the Bluefish Caves are amongst some of Canada's earliest Paleo-Indian sites. Most of the population groups were mobile hunter-gatherers during the Archaic period. However, these groups used local resources which are why today we can generally distinguish them by regions such as Plano, Maritime Archaic, and Paleo-Arctic traditions.

When the Europeans first arrived in Canada, unfortunately many of the Aboriginal tribes had faded out. This was discovered via archaeological investigations. Laws and treaties were enacted to create peace and harmony between the Aboriginal people and the European Settlers.

Canada was first explored during 985 – 986 CE. According to the Icelandic Sagas, Bjarni Herjolfsson was apparently blown off course while he was going to Greenland from Iceland. Leif Ericson then landed in 3 areas which are thought to be today's Baffin Island, Labrador, and Newfoundland. The Norsemen tried to colonise Canada, but they were driven out by the Aboriginal peoples. However, in L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, a Norse settlement was found and this was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978.

The Portuguese Crown also claimed territorial rights according to the Treaty of Tordesillas. Joao Fernandes Lavrador was a mariner who visited the northern Atlantic coast so “Labrador” started to appear on maps. In addition, the Corte-Real brothers claimed Newfoundland and Labrador in 1501 as part of the Portuguese Empire. King Manuel I of Portugal created taxes in 1506 for those fishing in the waters of Newfoundland, and fishing outposts were established in 1521. However, these were abandoned as the Portuguese focused more on South America.

The French only arrived in 1524 when Francis I sponsored Giovanni da Verrazzano to explore the area between Newfoundland and Florida. The mission was to find a route to the Pacific Ocean. In 1534, Gaspe Peninsula was claimed in Francis I's name. Initially, the French had difficulty settling in the region but the fishing fleets created an alliance with the First Nations. A trading post was established in 1600 at Tadoussac. During this time and afterwards, the French explored Canada. Quebec City was established by Champlain in 1608 and was the New France's capital. Champlain made voyages and aided the Huron (also known as the Wendat) who were battling the Iroquois Confederacy. As a result, the French and the Iroquois became enemies and there were conflicts until the Great Peace of Montreal was signed in 1701.

A war took place between France and Britain called the Seven Years War, which ended in 1763. France ceded almost all its North American colonies. 3 of the British colonies in North America were united in 1867 through a Confederation, and Canada became a federal dominion consisting of 4 provinces. This in turn increased Canada's autonomy and became official with 1931's Statute of Westminster and was finalised in 1982 through the Canada Act.

Over the centuries, Aboriginal, British, and French elements as well as the customs of recent immigrants have merged to create a distinctive Canadian culture. This is despite the fact that it is strongly influenced by its neighbour, the USA, through economic, geographic, and linguistic elements. Since the end of World War II, Canadians are committed to domestic socio-economic development and multilateralism overseas. Canada consists of 10 provinces and 3 territories. It has a democratic parliament with a constitutional monarchy. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II.

Canadians enjoy one of the highest standard of living. Canada is a prosperous nation which is known for its health care and pensions for war veterans and the elderly. It was the 1st country located in the Americas and the 4th country to legalise same-sex marriages. In addition, Vancouver has consistently remained the number one most living city in the world for 5 consecutive years and Toronto is consistently in the top 10.