The People of Canada - History

The People of Canada - History

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Canada is a land of immigrants. The majority of its people descend from various European countries. Only 6% of the population are Native Indians or Eskimos. The country is split along ethnic grounds between French and Anglo-Saxon immigrants.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Canadian(s).
Ethnic groups: Anglophone 28%, Francophone 23%, other European 15%, Asian/Arab/African 6%, indigenous Amerindian 2%, mixed background 26%.
Religions: Roman Catholic 44.4%, Protestant 29%, other Christian 4.2%, Muslim 2%, other 4%.
Languages: English, French.


Population, total (millions)27.7930.7734.0136.71
Population growth (annual %)
Surface area (sq. km) (thousands)9,984.709,984.709,984.709,984.70
Population density (people per sq. km of land area)
Income share held by lowest 20%
Life expectancy at birth, total (years)77798182
Fertility rate, total (births per woman)
Adolescent fertility rate (births per 1,000 women ages 15-19)24171210
Contraceptive prevalence, any methods (% of women ages 15-49)..74....
Births attended by skilled health staff (% of total)99999998
Mortality rate, under-5 (per 1,000 live births)8665
Prevalence of underweight, weight for age (% of children under 5)........
Immunization, measles (% of children ages 12-23 months)89969089
Primary completion rate, total (% of relevant age group)..97....
School enrollment, primary (% gross)103.7100.398.6101.4
School enrollment, secondary (% gross)99101102113
School enrollment, primary and secondary (gross), gender parity index (GPI)1111
Prevalence of HIV, total (% of population ages 15-49)........
Forest area (sq. km) (thousands)3,482.703,478.003,473.003,470.70
Terrestrial and marine protected areas (% of total territorial area)......6.5
Annual freshwater withdrawals, total (% of internal resources)
Urban population growth (annual %)
Energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita)7,6038,2437,7887,604
CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita)15.6617.3715.7215.12
Electric power consumption (kWh per capita)16,10916,99115,27015,546

Canada: A People's History

Canada: A People's History is a 17-episode, 32-hour documentary television series on the history of Canada. It first aired on CBC Television from October 2000 to November 2001. [1] The production was an unusually large project for the national network, especially during budget cutbacks. The unexpected success of the series actually led to increased government funding for the CBC. It was also an unusual collaboration with the French arm of the network, which traditionally had autonomous production. The full run of the episodes was produced in English and French. The series title in French was Le Canada: Une histoire populaire. In 2004, OMNI.1 and OMNI.2 began airing multicultural versions, in Chinese, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Russian.

The producers intended to make this a dramatic history of the Canadian people as much as possible, the story was told through the words of the people involved, from great leaders and explorers to everyday people of the land at the time. The documentary makes effective use of visuals, transitions, and dramatic music from or evocative of the eras being covered. In the first season, actors representing historical figures spoke their words, while later seasons used voiceovers over photographic images and film or, when available, original recordings of the subject. [2]

In June 2017, CBC Television aired two new episodes. Part one aired on June 15, 2017, with part two on June 22nd 2017. [3]


Canadians of British descent, known as English-Canadians, Anglophones, or simply Anglos, have traditionally comprised the majority of people in all Canadian provinces and have a long history of trying to shape Canada’s national culture to mimic the customs, traditions, and politics of their historic motherland. This cultural dominance helps explain why Canada remained a colony of the British Empire for as long as it did, why it fought so eagerly for the British side in both world wars, why it took so long to take the Union Jack off the Canadian flag, and why institutions like the monarchy survive to this day. Anglo-Canadians have a lot of cultural similarities with Anglo-Americans in the United States as well, and today the U.S. exerts far more cultural influence over English-speaking Canada than Great Britain.

British immigrants came in waves some Anglo-Canadian families have been living in Canada so long they have no idea when their forefathers first sailed over, some are the descendants of Loyalists who fled the American Revolution (1776-1783) while others may be the offspring of English or Scottish workers who left the British Isles during the 20th century. Motivated by a desire to keep Canada British, Canadian law favoured immigrants from the United Kingdom quite explicitly. Until 1976, there was no legal difference between a “Canadian Citizen” and a “British Subject,” meaning Brits were not subject to the same immigration regulations as other overseas migrants to Canada.

Quebecers celebrate Quebec's national holiday, Fête Nationale, on June 24, 2010.Anirudh Koul/Flickr

French-Canadian Nationalism

Due to their unique language, history, and culture, many French-Canadians feel like they don't belong in Canada, and have long argued that they need their own country. Supporters of this idea are known as "separatists" and argue Quebec should separate from Canada to become an independent French-Canadian homeland. Quebec voters have repeatedly elected separatist leaders to power, most recently Pauline Marois (b. 1949, seen here) who served as prime minister of Quebec from 2012 to 2014.

The People of Canada - History

Editor's Note:

In 2017, Canadians marked the 150th anniversary of their nation. But the Canada that was created in 1867 excluded the people who already lived there. This month historian Susan Neylan charts the ways Aboriginal Peoples have been treated by the Canadian government and examines how the ideals expressed in Canada&rsquos motto &ldquoPeace, Order and Good Government&rdquo have not applied to Indigenous people.

On July 1, 2017, as a crowd gathered to celebrate Canada’s 150 th birthday on Parliament Hill in the nation’s capital of Ottawa, a group of Indigenous activists, the Bawating Water Protectors, erected a teepee. In defiance of the uncritical vision of Canada’s past held by many Canadians, this act functioned as an Indigenous ceremony and as a declaration of Indigenous presence on this land that long predates the country’s emergence as a Dominion in 1867.

Canada’s Houses of Parliament (its House of Commons and the Senate chambers) sit on the unceded traditional territory of Omàmiwininiwak (Algonquins), which also made this action a reoccupation of a traditional homeland. When the tepee went up the police had attempted to remove the protestors. But security authorities soon had a change of heart and allowed them to move to a more central location in the shadow of the Peace Tower next to the main stage.

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, personally met with the Indigenous activists in the tepee to listen to their concerns even as the official national celebrations commemorating that history—which had so failed Indigenous peoples in Canada—were heating up.

The occasion of Canada’s sesquicentenary has generated much discussion about Indigenous peoples and their history of colonialism under the Canadian nation state.

On one hand, public awareness of the problematic nature of the relations between the Indigenous peoples and settlers from other continents is likely greater than it has ever been.

Over the past half century there has been a rise in Indigenous organization, constitutional recognition of Aboriginal peoples and rights, new treaties and respect for Indigenous oversight of economic development within their homelands, and important legal decisions in the country’s highest courts.

An estimated 3,000 supporters of the Idle No More movement occupied Parliament Hill in 2013 (left). A protest in 2013 by members of the Nipissing First Nation and non-Aboriginal supporters in Ottawa over weakened environmental laws (right).

A series of high-profile resistance movements and events—the grassroots Idle No More movement (2012-present), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2008-2015), and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2016- present), to name but a few—have awakened the country to the urgency of Indigenous issues. Some Canadians look to history to make sense of the legacies that inform native people’s struggles today.

On the other hand, uncomplicated and idealized visions of Canada’s past abound at the popular, public level.

Many assume that the Canadian motto “Peace, Order, and Good Government” informed the practice of Canadian “Indian” policy. Instead, violence, disorder and mismanagement, and a colonizing government have characterized Indigenous peoples’ experiences with the state.

A 1777 depiction of French and Indian fur traders (left). Students of St. Anne’s Indian Residential School in Fort Albany, Ontario around 1945 (right).

Birthdays and National Origin Stories

"It has been very trying for Indigenous populations to have their existence annulled—that’s what the last 150 years have been. The 150 th anniversary has to be marked by the fact that things have to change. We must confront our colonial thinking and attitudes and redefine what Canadian-ness means. We must move beyond the false notion that Canada was founded by the French and the English, recognizing that we started off with the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, and have become a society that thrives on diversity and knows how to share resources fairly among everyone." – Karla Jessen Williamson (Inuk), June 2017.

A century and a half ago, three colonies in British North America united to form the new Dominion of Canada. Popular understanding of this moment often refers to the “birth” of an independent country. On July 1, 1867, the four new provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec) constituted a tiny fraction geographically of what has become Canada today.

Canada in 1867 was hardly an independent nation. It had no power to negotiate agreements with external foreign nations, no standing army, no national flag or anthem, and no power to amend its own constitution.

An 1884 painting depicting the Conference at Quebec in 1864, which settled the basics of confederation for the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick (left). A 2017 sign in Montreal emphasizing 375 years of colonization, oppression, and resistance since European arrival (right).

Subsequently borders to the provinces were expanded and the country grew as other colonies and British-claimed territories joined or were added (Manitoba and the Northwest Territories in 1870 British Columbia in 1871 Prince Edward Island in 1873 Yukon Territory in 1898 Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905 Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949 and Nunavut, created in 1999).

However, Confederation as a process was not a democratic creation—there were no plebiscites (except in the cases of Newfoundland and Nunavut) and until the most recent additions, several groups were excluded from direct participation, Indigenous peoples among them. When Indigenous peoples did have input—for example, when Manitoba entered the Confederation in 1870—it was quickly disregarded.

Given they formed the majority population in all of the western and northern provinces when each joined Canada, lack of consultation followed by subjugation are more historically accurate descriptors of what Confederation meant for the Indigenous peoples.

Canada was created on top of Indigenous territories. Indigenous peoples’ place in the national narrative of the “birth” of Canada has been minimized and viewed as peripheral to the dominant culture’s stories.

The history Canadians don’t like to tell is that Canada’s nation-building has come at the expense of its Indigenous peoples.

A map of the population density of indigenous people at the start of the 21st century (left). An 1836 map depicting the estimated areas of First Nation tribes in the 1600s (right).

“What is it about us you don’t like?” The Erasure of Indigenous Peoples

Canada identifies three different Indigenous peoples (constitutionally referred to as Aboriginal peoples) within its borders: First Nations are “Indians” and the federal government recognizes both collectivities (First Nations) and individuals, defining persons as either having legal “Indian status” or as being a “non-status Indian” according to colonially imposed criteria (which include residency, previous identification, and blood quantum).

A group of Chehalis First Nations around 1910 (left). Métis at Fort Dufferin in Manitoba who were hired as scouts for a border survey in 1872 (right). An Inuit family in 1917 (bottom).

The second group is the Inuit (singular: Inuk), formerly labeled Eskimos, who are the original people of North America’s arctic. The third group are the Métis, people of Indigenous and European ancestry who emerged from distinct communities and historic circumstances, such as the fur trade, to embrace an Indigenous identity and culture distinct from either their Indigenous or European roots.

Collectively, the Aboriginal Peoples make up 4.9% of Canada’s current population.

The Canadian Minister of the Interior explaining the terms of Treaty #8, an agreement between Queen Victoria and various First Nations of the Lesser Slave Lake area over land and entitlements, in 1899 (left). Prince Arthur at the Mohawk Chapel in Brantford, Ontario with the Chiefs of the Six Nations in 1869 (middle). Nakoda chieftains meeting with King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II in Calgary in 1939 (right).

In a practical sense, the formal creation of the Dominion of Canada did not constitute a dramatic departure from earlier Indigenous-settler relations. “Indians” fell under federal jurisdiction and relations with Indigenous peoples were expected to follow existing policies and practices established by the British and their colonies. Hence the legal standing of existing treaties and reserves established prior to 1867 was recognized and adopted by Canada.

So too were general principles, such as those laid out in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 (working out the details of the peace at the end of the Seven Years War/French-Indian War) and ratified by many Indigenous nations at the Treaty of Niagara in 1764, which stipulated that only the Crown could negotiate with Indigenous nations and there would be no land surrenders without Indigenous consent.

This proclamation is significant because it meant that Canada tacitly recognized some degree of Indigenous sovereignty and ownership over the territories it inhabited, even as it frequently contradicted this fact through actions.

Indigenous-settler relations were by no means unproblematic prior to Confederation. But what Indigenous people believed were nation-to-nation agreements of peace, the Canadian government viewed as real estate deals intended to extinguish Indigenous claims to land ownership and designed to remove or restrict rights of access to resources.

When the first prime minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald, developed what he termed his “National Policy” in the late 1870s, one of its three central facets was the resettlement of Indigenous lands in the West by immigrant newcomers. Homesteading policies (such as the 1872 Dominion Lands Act) were created even before treaties were signed, suggesting that expediency and opportunity trumped genuine regard for Indigenous land rights.

Indian reserves (rather than reservations, as they are called in the United States) were Crown lands allegedly held in trust by the state for First Nations (and the majority remain so to this day). Yet in practice Canada has found all sorts of ways to cut off pieces of them, or to lease them out to logging or mining companies. Reserve residents have not received full market value for these land appropriations at any point.

The Indian Act in 1876 consolidated all existing legislation relating to First Nations into one place under the jurisdiction of the newly created Canadian federal government. It and subsequent amendments and revisions gave First Nations themselves no choice and little input. Although the new country was actively negotiating treaties with individual First Nations in the 1870s, the Indian Act unilaterally made many First Nations people wards of the state.

The Department of Indian Affairs was created in 1880 to administer the act and it remains in force today, though under the name “Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.” The Indian Act and its bureaucracy ensured them a negative and inequitable experience. By 1939, it also included Inuit in its mandate.

Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development signs in the Canadian Museum of History (left, right).

The Indian Act implemented a myriad of regulations, controls, and limits on Indigenous peoples designed to crush their way of life and it created Indian agents who administered the rules and constantly monitored reserve communities.

It restricted Indigenous cultural practices, such as the potlatch, and banned the wearing of Indigenous regalia in public. Plains people needed Indian agent permission to sell their livestock or crops, and even to come and go on their reserves. Indigenous hunting and fishing were restricted, and many traditional economic activities, such as fishing weirs, were forbidden by law.

An 1859 painting of the Klallam people of Port Townsend, WA during a potlatch (left). An 1894 painting of a potlatch ceremony held by the Kwakwaka’wala-speaking people of British Columbia (right).

The Indian Act also assaulted traditional systems of governance, hereditary or otherwise, by imposing new political systems and elected band councils that mirrored Western models but subordinated them to the Canadian state. In short, it impeded the ability of Indigenous peoples to function as independent, self-governing peoples.

The Indian Act defines “Indianness.” It created a legal category—“status Indian”—and by extension, non-status Indians. In the United States, membership criteria are determined by the Indigenous nation. However, in Canada both the First Nation or Indian band and the status of the particular person have been largely determined by the Canadian state. Whereas Native Americans gained U.S. citizenship in 1924, in Canada, status Indians were not legally Canadians, nor could they vote in national elections until 1960.

Having status (which includes a mixture of blood quantum and previous identification as an “Indian”) affected whether someone could live on a reserve, hold membership in a First Nation band, receive treaty rights, access government programs, and claim “Aboriginal rights” under Canadian law. Those without status were denied access to these benefits.

The Indian Act could remove status, voluntarily or involuntarily, through a series of enfranchisement acts that set certain criteria based on perceived levels of acculturation or education. It also “de-Indianized” significant numbers of First Nations’ peoples through a gender-biased administrative sleight of hand. Until only a few decades ago in Canada when a status Indian woman married a non-status man, she ceased to be an Indian, as did her children.

In fact, the assumption that “Indianness” was patrilineal was a feature of the Indian Act and Canada’s definition of status Indians until legislation in 1985, which also turned over the right to determine membership to First Nations. Over 100,000 Indigenous individuals since then have applied to regain their status and status for their children.

The calculation of “Indianness” however remains truly flawed in the eyes of many Indigenous peoples. One must “reapply” to regain lost status the government will not automatically reinstate status and requires rigorous, sometimes unobtainable, evidence to prove ancestry.

“I want to get rid of the Indian problem” and the Question of Genocide

"This year, the federal government plans to spend half a billion dollars on events marking Canada's 150th anniversary. Meanwhile, essential social services for First Nations people to alleviate crisis-level socio-economic conditions go chronically underfunded. Not only is Canada refusing to share the bounty of its own piracy it's using that same bounty to celebrate its good fortune. Arguably, every firework, hot dog and piece of birthday cake in Canada's 150th celebration will be paid for by the genocide of Indigenous peoples and cultures." – Pamela Palmater (Mi’kmaq), March 2017.

Canada’s intention to eliminate any separate Indigenous identity was official Canadian Indian policy for a long time.

Duncan Campbell Scott, Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Canada (1913-1932), put it bluntly in the speech he gave in 1920: “I want to get rid of the Indian problem. … Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department.”

Scott’s tenure was marked by particularly coercive policies and damaging legislative constraints for Canada’s Indigenous peoples, especially in terms of cultural repression and educational subjugation.

Canadian Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Duncan Campbell Scott, in 1933 (left). Richard Henry Pratt with a student at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in the 1880s (right).

Scott’s words eerily echo that other well-known quotation by a U.S. administrator, Captain Richard H. Pratt, in 1892: “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one … In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

If you kill the “Indian in him” or her, if you completely rid yourself of not merely, in Scott’s words, “the Indian problem,” but of any communal or individual identification of Indigeneity, but you don’t actually physically kill people, is it genocide? When we call it something else—assimilation, imperialism, acculturation—do we fail to capture the gravity of willfully eliminating a people as a people, culture, or society? Do we miss the process of cultural genocide?

Indigenous Canadians Today

Today, Canada is home to about 1.7 million citizens of Aboriginal descent (or about four per cent of the total population), the majority of whom identify as members of specific tribal communities, or First Nations, that have existed for centuries. About half a million Canadians identify as mixed-race Métis people (see above) while only about 65,000 consider themselves Inuit.

Aboriginal people are relatively evenly spread across Canada, though they are most concentrated in the prairie provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where First Nations and Métis people comprise more than 15 per cent of the population. The small northern territories of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are the only parts of Canada where Aboriginal people (in this case, Inuit) outnumber whites, though these territories have less than 83,000 people in all. Most Canadian Aboriginals speak English as their first language, though there have been persistent efforts to preserve traditional Aboriginal languages, with Cree and Inuktitut remaining the best known and most widely spoken.

In many ways, Indigenous Canadians are little different from any other type of Canadian. They work, raise families, vote in elections, and otherwise participate as full members of Canadian society. In other ways, however, their lives are quite different indeed, due to the continued existence of Aboriginal treaties and Indian reserves, which regulate and control Indigenous Canadian life in manner that is exclusive, distinctive, complicated, and — more often than not — deeply controversial.

Assembly of First Nations

The highest representative body for Aboriginal interests in Canada is the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), a congress of representatives of Indigenous nations from across Canada. The chairman of the organization acts as a national advocate for Native interests, and in recent years has started being treated as a national figurehead for the entire Aboriginal community of Canada. Seen here, AFN chair Perry Bellegarde (left, b. 1962) lays a wreath during 2016 Remembrance Day commemorations in Ottawa.

European contact and early exploration

At the beginning of the 9th century ce , seaborne Norse invaders pushed out of the Scandinavian Peninsula to Britain, Ireland, and northern Europe. In the mid-9th century a number of Norse craft reached Iceland, where a permanent settlement was established. Near the end of the 10th century the Norse reached Greenland and ventured to the coast of North America. At L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland are the remains of what are believed to be as many as three Norse settlements. According to available evidence, the Norse settlers and the Inuit (whom the Norse called Skraeling) initially fought each other but then established a regular trade relationship. The Norse settlements were soon abandoned, probably as the Norse withdrew from Greenland.

Europeans did not return to northern North America until the Italian navigator Giovanni Caboto, known in English as John Cabot, sailed from Bristol in 1497 under a commission from the English king to search for a short route to Asia (what became known as the Northwest Passage). In that voyage and in a voyage the following year, during which Cabot died, he and his sons explored the coasts of Labrador, Newfoundland, and possibly Nova Scotia and discovered that the cold northwest Atlantic waters were teeming with fish. Soon Portuguese, Spanish, and French fishing crews braved the Atlantic crossing to fish in the waters of the Grand Banks. Some began to land on the coast of Newfoundland to dry their catch before returning to Europe. Despite Cabot’s explorations, the English paid little heed to the Atlantic fishery until 1583, when Sir Humphrey Gilbert laid claim to the lands around present-day St. John’s, probably as a base for an English fishery. The French also claimed parts of Newfoundland, primarily on the north and west coasts of the island, as bases for their own fishing endeavours. The fishery ushered in the initial period of contact between the First Nations and the Europeans. Although each was deeply suspicious of the other, a sporadic trade was conducted in scattered locations between the fishing crews and the First Nations, with the latter trading furs for iron and other manufactured goods.

Sitting Bull leads his people into Canada

Nearly a year after the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull and a band of followers cross into Canada hoping to find safe haven from the U.S. Army.

On June 25, 1876, Sitting Bull’s warriors had joined with other Native peoples in the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana, which resulted in the massacre of George Custer and more than 200 troops of the 7th Cavalry. Worried that their great victory would provoke a massive retaliation by the U.S. military, the Native Americans scattered into smaller bands. During the following year, the U.S. Army tracked down and attacked several of these groups, forcing them to surrender and move to reservations.

Sitting Bull and his followers, however, managed to avoid a decisive confrontation with the U.S. Army. They spent the summer and winter after Little Bighorn hunting buffalo in Montana and fighting small skirmishes with soldiers. In the fall of 1876, Colonel Nelson A. Miles met with Sitting Bull at a neutral location and tried to talk him into surrendering and relocating to a reservation. Although anxious for peace, Sitting Bull refused. As the victor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull felt he should be dictating terms to Miles, not the other way around.

Angered by what he saw as Sitting Bull’s obstinacy, Miles stepped up his campaign of harassment against the chief and his people. Sitting Bull’s band continued to roam about Montana in search of increasingly scarce buffalo, but the constant travel, lack of food and military pressure began to take a toll. On this day in 1877, Sitting Bull abandoned his traditional homeland in Montana and led his people north across the border into Canada.

Sitting Bull and his band stayed in the Grandmother’s Country—so called in honor of the British Queen Victoria𠅏or the next four years. The first year was idyllic. The band found plenty of buffalo and Sitting Bull could rest and play with his children in peace. The younger warriors, though, soon tired of the quiet life. The braves made trouble with neighboring tribes, attracting the displeasure of the Canadian Mounties. While the Canadian leaders were more reasonable and sensitive about Native affairs than their aggressive counterparts to the south, they became increasingly nervous and pressured Sitting Bull to return to the U.S.

Ultimately, though, Sitting Bull’s attempt to remain independent was undermined by the disappearance of the buffalo, which were being wiped out by Native Americans, settlers and hide hunters. Without meat, Sitting Bull gave up his dream of independence and asked the Canadian government for rations. Meanwhile, emissaries from the U.S. came to his camp and promised Sitting Bull’s followers they would be rich and happy if they joined the American reservations. The temptation was too great, and many stole away at night and headed south. By early 1881, Sitting Bull was the chief of only a small band of mostly older and sick people.

Finally, Sitting Bull relented. On July 10, 1881, more than five years after the fateful battle at the Little Bighorn, the great chief led 187 Native peoples from their Canadian refuge to the United States. After a period of confinement, Sitting Bull was assigned to the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota in 1883. Seven years later he was dead, killed by police when he resisted their attempt to arrest him for his supposed participation in the Ghost Dance uprising.

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George Henry (Maungwudaus) was an exotic figure to the European audiences his troupe performed dances and exhibitions for between 1845 and 1848, after which the group toured Canada and the U.S. (Image information: Unknown photographer/Library and Archives Canada/e011154379 daguerreotype, 14 x 10.9 cm.)

An early image of Western Canada. According to the photographer&rsquos notes, the sparse landscape is a result of a grasshopper infestation that wiped out the prairie grasses. The skull is a dramatic detail that speaks volumes about the remote and forbidding terrain. (Image information: Humphrey Lloyd Hime/Library and Archives Canada/C-018694 salted paper print from a salted paper negative.)

Canada was one of the last regions of the Americas to be invaded, and early settlers reported on the severity of the climate and told tales of tough living. This encampment is from William Notman&rsquos &ldquoCaribou Hunting Series&rdquo &mdash created in the confines of his Montreal studio in 1866. (Image credit: William Notman/McCord Museum, Montreal.)

Niagara Falls has always been a popular tourist destination, even as surrounding attractions come and go. (Image credit: Alexander Henderson/McCord Museum, Montreal.)

This convention of delegates from the legislatures of Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island began the formal discussions that led to Confederation three years later. (Image credit: George P. Roberts/Library and Archives Canada/C-000733.)

On November 7, 1885, at 9:22 a.m., in Craigellachie, British Columbia, Donald Smith drove in the famous Last Spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which then extended from Montreal to Port Moody. The act fulfilled the federal government&rsquos 1871 commitment to B.C. that it would link the province to Eastern Canada. Smith&rsquos first swing at the spike bent it, so it was pulled and replaced with a fresh one Smith carefully tapped home. He retrieved the bent one and made strips out of it, fashioning them into diamond encrusted broaches for the wives of local VIPs. (Image credit: Alexander Ross/Library and Archives Canada/C-003693.)

The power of portraiture is evident in this shot of Louis Riel. Most people are naturally guarded when having their portrait taken, revealing of themselves only what they&rsquore comfortable with. But a skilled photographer can find ways to inject the sitter&rsquos personality into the image.

Although Riel was specifically committed to preserving Métis culture, he has come to be viewed as an early proponent of multiculturalism. He was hanged for treason on Nov. 16, 1885, at the North-West Mounted Police barracks in Regina. (Image credit: Notman Studio/Library and Archives Canada/C-002048.)

Prisoners at work on Don, Toronto, c. 1890

Workers and incarceration were not common subjects for early photographers. This is a rare shot that depicts both, in a beautifully composed photograph that subtlety illustrates the power of one over many. (Image credit: J. Ed Terryberry/Courtesy Stephen Bulger Gallery.)

The First World War changed the nature of warfare, and among the casualties left in its wake was the end of heroic myths about the glory of serving one&rsquos country. By 1916, photography had improved such that portable cameras and faster films, coupled with better methods of reproduction, enabled photographers to bring previously hidden details into homes around the world. (Image credit: Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-000396.)

Frederick Varley, A. Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris, Barker Fairley, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, and J. E. H. MacDonald. c. 1920

Following the Great War was a time of prosperity in Canada, during which elements of our cultural identity flourished. Although our art scene extends well beyond the talents of a handful of men, the Group of Seven&rsquos works remain definitive illustrations of the Canadian landscape, and of artistic practice in the early 20th Century. (Image credit: Arthus Goss / F 1066, Archives of Ontario, I0010313.)

The unbridled prosperity of the 1920s came to an abrupt end victims of the Great Depression relied on soup kitchens like this one in Montreal, captured here in 1931. (Image credit: Library and Archives Canada/PA-168131)

Wait for Me, Daddy, Eighth Street, New Westminster, BC, October 1, 1940

The little boy in this photograph literally became the poster child for families separated by the Second World War. The chance shot of five-year-old Warren Bernard escaping his mother&rsquos grasp to touch his father&rsquos hand &ldquowent viral&rdquo: it was published all around the world, including in Life magazine. A copy of the photo hung in every school in British Columbia during the war. (Image credit: Claude P. Dettloff/University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Special Collections, Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs, UL_1246.)

Mid-century technological advancements enabled photographers to capture important moments in remote locations. Using 35mm cameras, Richard Harrington worked in more than 120 countries over 50 years. In 1950, he visited Padlei and found that the community was starving due to a change in the migratory patterns of the caribou they relied on for food. Harrington shot this iconic photograph before cutting his trip short to get help for the community. (Image credit: Richard Harrington/Library and Archives Canada/PA-112083.)

Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto, 1956

The 1950s saw broader segments of the population succeed financially, and many took up the pursuit of pleasure. Lutz Dille fled Germany after the Second World War and experienced life in several European countries before he settled in Toronto, which he found to be a bustling and accepting place. (Image information: The Estate of Lutz Dille/Courtesy Stephen Bulger Gallery.)

Continued prosperity and higher levels of education were among the factors that helped build a more confident generation of young Canadians, who were eager to embrace all that life had to offer. This scene encapsulates the extent to which the old guard stood apart from the new. (Image credit: The Estate of Albert Kish/Courtesy Stephen Bulger Gallery.)

Paul Henderson, game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series

If you&rsquore like me, you saw only a blur. I watched the game on a TV with poor reception (with my Grade 5 class in the room where we normally took French lessons), but it was the most exciting thing I&rsquod ever seen. This picture summed it all up. (Image credit: Frank Lennon/Toronto Star/Getty Images.)

Robert Stanfield, North Bay, Ontario, 1974

Photography has the power to cement reputations. While Progressive Conservative Leader Robert Stanfield was usually adept at passing the ball around with his aides, a photographer caught this miscue &mdash and suddenly Stanfield&rsquos appeal started to wane. His rivals, Pierre Trudeau&rsquos Liberals, would go on to win a majority. (Image credit: Doug Ball/The Canadian Press.)

Buckingham Palace, May 7, 1977

Another classic moment from Doug Ball, this one captured at a G7 summit in London. Here, Pierre Trudeau does a pirouette as Elizabeth II and other heads of state go to dinner. Luckily the act was caught on film &mdash for many Canadians, it symbolizes the country&rsquos adolescence. (Image credit: Doug Ball/The Canadian Press.)

Terry Fox, Ontario, July 13, 1980

One of Canada&rsquos greatest heroes, Terry Fox set an example that continues to inspire millions of people around the world. His determination and spirit are evident in this silhouette, taken in the early morning as he resumed his Marathon of Hope. (Image credit: Peter Martin.)

Space Shuttle Endeavour, Mission: STS-72, launched January 11, 1996

Growing up in the 1960&rsquos, I was fascinated by NASA space missions, and envious of Americans, who were seemingly at the forefront everything. The Canadarm was first tested in orbit in 1981, and it would go on to fly in 90 missions &mdash and that made me feel proud of my country. (Image credit: NASA)

Signing of the Constitution, April 17, 1982

Canada&rsquos relationship with the British monarchy is all about tradition. Here, Pierre Trudeau, near the end of his career, looks on as Elizabeth II signs the Constitution. (Image credit: Ron Poling/The Canadian Press.)

The British North America Act came into effect July 1, 1867, and the following year, Governor General Lord Monck signed a proclamation officially recognizing the anniversary of that event. In 1879, July 1 became a statutory holiday, eventually to be known as Dominion day and later Canada Day. (Image credit: Barbara Spohr)

This photograph of sentry Patrick Cloutier and Anishinaabe warrior Brad Larocque contains a multitude of meanings. To me, it represents two cultures, brought face to face but not sure how to interact. The silence in the photograph speaks volumes. (Image credit: Shaney Komulainen/The Canadian Press.)

A huge Canadian flag is passed along a crowd that came to Montreal in support of Canadian unity, Oct. 27, 1995

Three days after this photograph was taken, Quebeckers voted to remain a part of Canada. The decision was really to carry on compromising &mdash an important attribute of many successful relationships. (Image credit: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Canada continues to grow and shape its identity. There is evidence all around that illustrates where we are as a nation &mdash the good and the bad. And that knowledge should point us in the right direction when it comes to mapping out our future. (Image credit: Geoffrey James/Courtesy Stephen Bulger Gallery.)

Stephen Bulger is the owner of the Stephen Bulger Gallery of photography in Toronto.

Canada: A People's History

The complete landmark documentary series follows events from pre-history to 1990. Charting the country's past, this series chronicles the rise and fall of empires, the clash of great armies and epoch-making rebellions. The vibrant story is one of courage, daring and folly, told through the personal testimonies of the everyday men and women who lived it — trappers and traders, pirates and prospectors, soldiers and settlers, saints and shopkeepers. Teacher Resource Packages are available to help you maximize classroom presentation of the series — Grades 5-9 or Grades 10-12. These guides are supported by additional background material and downloadable blackline masters which can be found here.

Two new episodes were added in 2017, offering educators and students an unprecedented visual resource to support Canadian history, geography, civics, politics and issues courses. The rich video resource is supported by two Teacher Resource Packages.


Most Canadians were born in Canada and came from the original founding peoples. But over the past 200 years, many newcomers have helped to build and defend this country’s way of life.

Today, many ethnic and religious groups live and work in peace as proud Canadians. Until the 1970s, most immigrants came from European countries. Since then, the majority have come from Asian countries.

About 20 per cent of Canadians were born outside Canada. In Toronto, Canada’s largest city, this number is over 45 per cent. Immigrants like you are a valued part of Canada’s multicultural society.

For more information on the Canadian people, read the Discover Canada guide.

Watch the video: Red Fife. Η Ιστορία ενός αγαπημένου παραδοσιακού σταριού στον Καναδά Sharon Rempel


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