The first people came to the territory of modern Canada from Asia about 30-40 thousand years ago. These were the ancestors of the Indians and Eskimos, who moved here along the isthmus that then existed on the site of the Bering Strait. In 985, the Norwegians reached the east coast of present-day Canada, and in the 11th century, the Normans. The British arrived here in the 15th century. In 1497 and 1498, the Italian navigator Giovanni Caboto, who acted on a patent received from the English King Henry VII, reached the shores of Newfoundland and North America. A little later, expeditions of the Portuguese, Bristol merchants and Florentines reached these places. European sailors fished in the local waters and founded small settlements.
However, the first traveler to discover Canada and its hinterland is the French navigator Jacques Cartier, who appeared off the eastern coast of North America in the early 16th century. Jacques Carte declared the lands he had discovered the property of the French crown and called them Canada. In 1603, the expedition of the French geographer Samuel de Champlain entered into trade with the local population. The main commodity that the Indians supplied to the Europeans was furs. In 1605, the expedition of de Champlain on the coast of the Bay of Fundy founded the settlement of Port Royal. Fort Quebec was founded in 1608. In 1612, Samuel de Champlain was appointed representative of the French authorities in Canada. Numerous trading companies began to participate in the colonization, and in 1642 the city of Montreal was founded – the center of the fur trade of French lands in North America. Check a2zdirectory for old history of Canada.
The British also succeeded in colonization. In 1583, the island of Newfoundland was declared an English colony, in 1627, another colony, Nova Scotia, was founded on the islands of the southeast coast of present-day Canada. The British began to support the Indians, who suffered from diseases introduced by Europeans and from the dominance of French traders. For many years, the struggle for Canadian territories continued between England and France. Only in 1760, after a lengthy Seven Years’ War, France capitulated and, under the Treaty of Paris in 1763, recognized Canada as a British possession. However, the French, who originally inhabited the St. Lawrence Valley, did not leave. Under the British, their rights were significantly limited, but in 1774 the British authorities adopted the Quebec Act, which preserved in the territory of the province of Quebec.
In 1775-1783, in the British colonies neighboring Canada, a struggle for independence from the British crown began. In these colonies, united under the name of the United States of America, in 1776 independence from England was proclaimed. So-called loyalists arrived from England to fight the revolutionaries. Lands were allocated for their placement in Canada. With the help of the Loyalists who lived in Canada and after the War of Independence, in 1791 a new “Constitutional Act” was adopted, which divided Canada into two parts – Lower Canada, with a predominance of the French population, and Upper Canada, inhabited almost exclusively by the British. Both colonies received a constitutional device with two legislative chambers. In Lower Canada, French civil law and the privileges of the Catholic Church were preserved,
At the beginning of the 19th century, armed uprisings of French Republicans broke out in Lower and Upper Canada, but they were suppressed. After that, the British authorities proposed the unification of Upper and Lower Canada in order to strengthen the presence of British culture and assimilate the French population. In 1840, the Act of Union was passed, proclaiming the unification of Upper and Lower Canada into a single colony.
In 1846, the United Kingdom and the United States agreed to establish the 49th parallel north as the boundary separating the United States and western British North America. In 1853, Canada switched from the British pound to the Canadian dollar, as it was more convenient for trading with the United States. In 1854, the British government signed a free trade agreement with the United States with Canada, which immediately led to the rise of the Canadian economy. But during the American Civil War in 1861-1865, the British authorities supported the southerners who fought against the United States, which led to the annulment of the free trade agreement. Tensions between the two countries grew, and in the face of the threat of a US attack in 1867, the “federal dominion” of Canada was created to strengthen the disunited British colonies (United Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick).
In 1869, a large trading corporation – the Hudson’s Bay Company – sold Canada its rights to the Northwest Territories, in which the new Canadian province of Manitoba was formed in 1870. In 1871, British Columbia became part of Canada, consisting of Vancouver Island and Prince Edward Island. To attract immigrants, in 1873 Canada passed a law according to which every immigrant, after three years of working the land, received a plot of 160 acres free of charge. Immigrants began to flock here from all over the world. In 1905, new provinces were formed in Canada – Alberta and Saskatchewan.
In 1931, the Statute of Westminster was adopted, according to which Canada was declared absolutely independent from Great Britain in foreign and domestic policy, and the British crown in the country was now represented by the Governor General.
A week after Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939, Canada also declares war on Germany. During the Second World War, Canada was one of the main producers of military equipment for Great Britain, and therefore the country’s economy began to boom. Beginning in 1940, Canada’s economy became heavily dependent on the United States, with the British presence becoming almost invisible. In the same year, an agreement was signed between Canada and the United States on joint planning for the defense of the North American continent. Canada acquired its modern borders in 1949, when the last province of Newfoundland became part of it.
The post-war period was characterized by a general economic downturn, the United States became the main source of foreign investment and Canada’s main trading partner. The public was unhappy with the growing economic dependence on the United States. In addition, in the 1960s, the Quebec separatist movement began to develop, whose members fought for the autonomy of the province of Quebec with the French-Canadian population. The movement did not achieve much success, although in numerous referendums the majority of the French Canadian population spoke in favor of granting independence to Quebec. Controversial questions about the special status of French Canadian culture in the country arise to this day.
In 1982, the UK ratified a new draft Canadian constitution that replaced the British North America Act of 1867, making Canada a fully independent state within the Commonwealth of Nations.