Evolution Of Canada

Word Count: 1969 |

Canada, independent nation in North America. A country rich in minerals

and agriculture, it was settled by the French and English and became an

independent Commonwealth country with a federal system of government, in

which the provinces enjoy a large measure of autonomy.

Land and Economy. The 2nd-largest country in the world (after the

USSR), Canada occupies the N half of the North American continent,

stretching E and W from the Atlantic to Pacific oceans, N from the 49th

parallel to the North Pole, including all the islands in the Arctic Ocean

from W of Greenland to Alaska. It is divided into 10 provinces, which are

(E-W): Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick,

Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Two

territories–Northwest Territories and Yukon Territory–are in the N and

NW. The outstanding geological feature is the Canadian Shield, a

1,850,000-sq-mi (4,791,500-sq-km) arc of Pre-Cambrian rock from Labrador

around Hudson Bay to the Arctic islands. The Shield, site of once great

mountain chains worn down and covered by the sea, contains valuable

minerals–gold, silver, platinum, copper, nickel, cobalt, iron, and

zinc–making Canada one of the most important mining countries in the

world. The Shield’s N portion is a treeless plain with permanently frozen

subsoil; in its S section are forests.

Extending from the Shield’s W border to the Canadian Rockies are

prairies more than 800mi (1,288km) wide that yield wheat, the dominant

crop, and are centers of livestock raising. W Canada is a land of mountains

with fishing, agriculture, and lumbering as important industries. With the

development of major oil and natural gas deposits since the 1950s in the W,

the now-dominant energy industry has resulted in dramatic economic growth

there, and made Canada a major oil-producing country. The E provinces

provide rich farm lands, forests, coal mines, and major fishing sources

along the long coastline. Source of a route into the interior for early

settlers, the St Lawrence-Great Lakes area is the most populous section of

Canada as well as its economic and political center. It contains over 60%

of the population. Abundant minerals have made Canada the world leader in

the production of silver, nickel, potash, and zinc; second in gypsum,

asbestos, uranium, and sulfur; third in gold, lead, and platinum; fourth in

magnesium and fifth in copper. Timber is also valuable, and Canada is a

world leader in newsprint production. The growth of manufacturing during

the 1950s and 1960s changed Canada from a rural society to an industrial

and urban country. Farming employs 7% of the working population.

Mechanization has made it possible to export 30%-40% of its total

agricultural production, accounting for 11% of total exports. Wheat is

particularly important. Of the total fishing catch, 75% is exported.

People. Canada’s indigenous Indians and Eskimos are descendants of the

Mongoloid tribes who took the NW route from Asia across the Bering Strait

15,000-20,000 years ago. The Arctic region contains about 12,000 Eskimos.

Today, 44% of the population is of British descent. About 30% is French,

descended from the colonists who came to Canada in the 17th and 18th

centuries, and now heavily concentrated in Quebec and New Brunswick. During

the American Revolution many British loyalists fled to Canada from the

United States, and after 1900 waves of immigrants from Germany, the

Ukraine, and Italy settled on the prairie farmlands or the urban centers.

Native Indians have been increasing in number, accounting for over 210,000,

mostly living in the prairie states. During periods of US prosperity,

emigration has brought Canadians S to work in the industrial cities.

Forty-six percent of the population is Roman Catholic with the coalition

United Church of Canada next (20%). Literacy is almost 100%.

Government. In its role as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations,

Canada is both a constitutional monarchy and a democracy. Internally, there

is a federal structure of the 10 provinces and 2 territories. The British

monarch names a governor general who serves as symbol of the association

with the Commonwealth. Parliament is divided into two houses. Members of

the Senate are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime

minister. Members of the House of Commons are elected. The executive branch

includes a cabinet, headed by the prime minister, who is the leader of the

party in power. Within each province the government is headed by a premier

and parliament.

History. Rivalry between the French and the English marked Canada’s

early development. John Cabot, sailing for England, reached Newfoundland in

1497 and claimed possession for King Henry VII. In 1534, French explorer

Jacques Cartier planted the French flag on the Gasp? Peninsula, and in

1604, Samuel de Champlain established the first French colony, Port Royal,

in Nova Scotia; four years later he founded what is now the city of Quebec.

French navigators traveled the St Lawrence and Hudson rivers, claiming

large interior lands for France. Traders and missionaries penetrated the

interior, and French officials made peace with the Indians, thus

encouraging French immigration. Seeking a share of the lucrative fur trade,

the British in 1670 established the Hudson’s Bay Co. Continental war

between France and England extended to the New World, and the 1759 defeat

of French commander Montcalm brought the fall of Quebec; the 1763 Treaty of

Paris gave Canada to Britain. In 1791 a constitutional act divided Canada

into two sections–an English portion in what is now Ontario and a French

portion in what is now Quebec. The next 40 years were marked by trade and

expansion. Alexander Mackenzie, the first white man to cross the continent,

reached the Arctic in 1789 and the Pacific in 1793. The United States

invaded Canada during the War of 1812, which ended in a stalemate with the

Treaty of Ghent. French Canadians demanded political reform, and in 1840

Upper and Lower Canada were joined and self-government approved. Border

questions between the United States and Canada were settled during the same

period when the 49th parallel was accepted as the demarcation line. A

movement to join the isolated colonies spread across the continent was

spurred by promises to build a railway system linking the provinces and to

provide future protection against US invasion, especially during the Civil

War, when there was anti-British feeling in the United States. In 1867 the

British North America Act joined four provinces–Quebec, Ontario, Nova

Scotia, and New Brunswick–and provided for a parliamentary system. In 1869

Canada bought land from the Hudson’s Bay Co., carving out of it the

provinces of Manitoba (1870), Saskatchewan (1905), and Alberta (1905).

Encouraged by a transcontinental railway promise, British Columbia joined

the union in 1871 and Prince Edward Island in 1873. The last addition came

in 1948 when Newfoundland became Canada’s 10th province. Outstanding

leaders during the drive for independence and the early years of

confederation included John A. Macdonald, Wilfrid Laurier, and William Lyon

Mackenzie King. Canada joined the Allies in WWII and after the war became a

member of the United Nations. The Liberal party dominated politics from the

early 1960s until 1984. First with Lester Pearson and, from 1968-79 and

1980-84, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, as prime minister. In 1984 Trudeau retired

from politics and chose John N. Turner to succeed him as prime minister and

party leader. The 1984 elections saw a dramatic change in power with the

election of the Progressive Conservative candidate, Brian Mulroney.

Mulroney and US President Ronald Reagan in 1988 signed a historic

free-trade agreement that made the US and Canada the largest free-trade

area in the world; annual trade was expected to amount to about $150


During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Canada successfully weathered

severe crises of national unity. In Quebec, four-fifths French-speaking,

the militant Parti Qu?b?cois won the elections of 1976 on a secessionist

platform, but in 1980 Quebec voters rejected a referendum on separate

status. In 1979 Trudeau announced plans to repatriate the British North

America Act, which functions as the Canadian constitution, but is amendable

only by act of the British parliament. The provincial premiers were at

first opposed to the move, but a compromise reached in 1981 was rejected

only by Quebec and was signed into effect by Queen Elizabeth II in 1982. In

1987 Quebec signed the Canadian constitution, which had been altered to

include a provision for Quebec to be recognized as a “distinct society.” In

1988 a free-trade agreement was signed between Canada and the US; its

supporters expected it tostimulate international trade by encouraging the

removal of trade tariffs and restrictions.


Official name: Canada

Area: 3,851,809sq mi (9,976,185sq km)

Population: 26,310,836

Density: 6.8per sq mi (2.6per sq km)

Chief cities: Ottawa (capital); Montreal; Toronto; Edmonton

Government: Constitutional monarchy with parliamentary system of


Religion: Roman Catholic (major), Anglican, United Church

Language: English, French

Monetary unit: Canadian dollar

Gross national product: $471,500,000,000

Per capita income: $18,070

Industries: pulp and paper, petroleum products, iron, steel,

motor vehicles,

aircraft, machinery, chemicals, aluminum, fish canning

Agriculture: wheat, barley, oats, rye, potatoes, fish, cattle,


Minerals: oil, iron ore, gold, silver, platinum, copper, nickel,

cobalt, zinc

Trading partners: United States, Japan, United Kingdom

Following is a list of the prime ministers of Canada.


John A. McDonald 1867-73

Alexander Mackenzie 1873-78

John A. McDonald 1878-91

John J.C. Abbot 1891-92

John S.D. Thompson 1892-94

Mackenzie Bowell 1894-96

Charles Tupper 1896

Wilfrid Laurier 1896-1911

Robert L. Borden 1911-20

Arthur Meighen 1920-21

W. L. Mackenzie King 1921-26

Arthur Meighen 1926

W. L. Mackenzie King 1926-30

Richard B. Bennett 1930-35

W. L. Mackenzie King 1935-48

Louis Stephen St. Laurent 1948-57

John George Diefenbaker 1957-63

Lester B. Pearson 1963-68

Pierre Elliott Trudeau 1968-79

Joe Clark 1979-80

Pierre Elliott Trudeau 1980-84

Brian Mulroney 1984-

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