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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Canada Day marks the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867. Before that, what we know as Canada was a whole lot of little Canadas.

Native Americans lived in Canada long before Europeans came. The resulting culture clash was, at times, bloody. The result was the colonization by settlers and soldiers from France and Great Britain.

During the colonial wars of the 17th and 18th centuries, Canada was a battleground as well. The last great struggle between France and Britain in the New World was the Seven Years War, what Americans call the French and Indian War. With the help of their American colonists, the British won this war (in 1763) and demanded Canada as a prize. French occupation of Canada was, effectively, at an end.

Fighting between Americans and British took place in Canada in both the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) and the War of 1812 (1812-1814). The results of each of these wars included further boundaries between America and Canada.

And while America was involved in its Civil War (1861-1865), Canada was involved in a struggle of its own: to come to grips with the idea of forming one, large country.

Canada in the early 19th Century was a jumbled mix of peoples and territories. Specifically, the British lived in Canada West and the French listed in Canada East. To add to the confusion, Canada West was also called Upper Canada and Canada East was also called Lower Canada, even though Lower Canada was at times farther north than Upper Canada.

Anyway, in 1841, the United Province of Canada came about, formed from the two former Canadas, East and West.

On July 1, 1867, after years of debate, the Dominion of Canada was formed. The provinces were Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. This was a big step. For the first time, a central government (in Ottawa) had a place in governing all of the provinces. But this Canada wasn't the Canada we know today.

One piece of the puzzle fell into place when the Dominion bought the Northwest Territories in 1869. The next year, Manitoba came on board. British Columbia joined the Confederation (as it was being called) in 1871. Prince Edward Island joined in 1873.

Two more parts of the Canada we know today, Alberta and Saskatchewan, joined the Dominion in 1905. And in 1949, Newfoundland became the 10th province. The borders stayed the same for 50 years, until 1999, when Nunavut became the 11th province. On October 27, 1982, July 1st which was known as "Dominion Day" became "Canada Day".

So what does Canada Day really celebrate? The beginning of a united country. From its earliest settlements by Native Americans, through French and English settlements and wars, Canada was a divided land. Some territories had banded together before 1867, but the Dominion Act was the first large step toward total unity, from sea to sea. Canada is today a very large country, with a very large population and a very large economy.

1 Comments:

  • Very interesting synopsis of history, Sarvjeet. Thanks! I've never been very knowledgable of Canada history. We Americans don't pay a whole lot of attention to "them there people up North." (-;

    I must say though that "Independence Day" has a flashier ring than "Canada Day." I can't imagine having a "United States Day." :-D

    By Anonymous Rochelle, at 7/02/2006 10:08 PM  

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