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The Roots of Canada: A Brief History

The Roots of Canada: A Brief History

Canada is a North American country with varying terrain, from expansive prairies to rugged coastlines. It became a country after the British North America Act of 1867, and since then, it has developed into a multicultural country with a rich history. In this article, we will explore the roots of Canada and the events that shaped it into what it is today.

The First Inhabitants: Indigenous Peoples

The Indigenous Peoples, including the Inuit, First Nations, and M├ętis, were the first inhabitants of the land that is now called Canada. They had their own customs, languages, and traditions, and they lived in harmony with nature. Some of the oldest archeological evidence suggests that these groups have been living in what is now Canada for as long as 12,000 years.

European Exploration and Colonization

The first Europeans to arrive in Canada were the Vikings. Norse explorers established a short-lived settlement in Newfoundland in 1000 CE and interacted with the Indigenous Peoples living there. In the 15th and 16th centuries, other European explorers began to arrive in Canada.

In 1534, the French explorer Jacques Cartier sailed down the St. Lawrence River and claimed the land for France. This started a long period of French exploration, settlement, and expansion in Canada. The British also established colonies in North America, including Canada. By the 18th century, the French and British had established significant colonies across Canada.

Confederation of Canada

On July 1, 1867, the British North America Act united three British colonies into the semi-autonomous Dominion of Canada. The country included the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. Subsequently, other provinces and territories gradually joined Confederation. The country’s new government had dual British and Canadian citizenship and a parliamentary system that resembled the British system.

In 1931, Canada gained greater autonomy from Britain through the Statute of Westminster. With this new law, Canada and other British dominions could pass their own laws without the approval of the British Parliament. Canada gained full independence in 1982, with the passage of the Constitution Act.

Quebec Separatism

The relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada has been a challenging one. Quebec is predominantly French-speaking, unlike the other provinces which are mostly English-speaking. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Quebec independence movement emerged, seeking a separate country for Quebec. They believed that Quebec could not thrive within the Canadian confederation. The idea of separatism reached its peak in the 1980 and 1995 referendums, where Quebec voters narrowly rejected independence.

Multiculturalism Today

Today, Canada is a multicultural country that values diversity and inclusivity. People from all over the world have migrated to Canada and settled here, bringing with them their cultures, traditions, and identities. The Canadian government officially recognizes multiculturalism and promotes it as one of the country’s defining features.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the oldest city in Canada?

Quebec City is the oldest city in Canada, founded in 1608.

Why did French settlers come to Canada?

French settlers came to Canada seeking new land and resources for their expanding empire. They established settlements and business ventures across the country, particularly in Quebec.

What is Canada’s national animal?

The beaver is Canada’s national animal, representing the country’s history of fur trading.

Which language do most Canadians speak?

Approximately 60% of Canadians speak English, while 20% speak French.

When did Canada gain full independence?

Canada gained full independence in 1982, with the passage of the Constitution Act.

How many provinces and territories are in Canada?

Canada has ten provinces and three territories.

What is Canada’s largest city?

Toronto is Canada’s largest city, with a population of over 6 million people.


Canada is a country with a rich and diverse history, shaped by its Indigenous Peoples, European explorers and settlers, and its current multicultural population. Understanding the roots of Canada is essential to understanding where the country is today and where it might go in the future.



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