About Canada

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Canada is a country occupying most of northern North America. It is the world's second-largest country by total area, and extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean. Canada shares land borders with the United States to the northwest and south.

Inhabited first by aboriginal peoples, Canada was founded in 1867 as a union of British colonies (some of which were formerly French colonies). It gained independence from the United Kingdom in an incremental process that ended in 1982. It remains a Commonwealth Realm with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.

Canada is a federal constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democracy. Comprising ten provinces and three territories, Canada is a bilingual and multicultural country, with both English and French as official languages at the federal level. A technologically advanced and industrialized nation, Canada maintains a diversified economy that is heavily reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade — particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship.

Etymology

The name Canada comes from a word in the language of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians meaning "village" or "settlement." In 1535, inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the word to direct explorer Jacques Cartier towards the village of Stadacona. Cartier used the word 'Canada' to refer to not only that village, but the entire area subject to Donnacona, Chief at Stadacona. By 1545, European books and maps began referring to this region as Canada.

The French colony of Canada referred to the part of New France along the Saint Lawrence River and the northern shores of the Great Lakes. Later, it was split into two British colonies, called Upper Canada and Lower Canada until their union as the British Province of Canada in 1841. Upon Confederation in 1867, the name Canada was officially adopted for the new dominion, which was referred to as the Dominion of Canada until the 1950s. In fact, Canada's founders, led by Sir John A. Macdonald wished their new nation to be called the "Kingdom of Canada", however the British Colonial Office at the time worried it would anger the Americans and requested "Dominion" to be used instead. As Canada increasingly acquired political authority and autonomy from Britain, the federal government increasingly simply used Canada on state documents and treaties. The Canada Act 1982 refers only to "Canada" and, as such, it is currently the only legal (and bilingual) name. This was reflected again in 1982 with the renaming of the national holiday from Dominion Day to Canada Day.

History

Aboriginal tradition holds that the First Peoples inhabited parts of Canada since the dawn of time. Archaeological studies support a human presence in northern Yukon to 26,500 years ago, and in southern Ontario to 9,500 years ago. Europeans first arrived when the Vikings settled briefly at L'Anse aux Meadows circa AD 1000.

The next Europeans to explore Canada's Atlantic coast included John Cabot in 1497 for England and Jacques Cartier in 1534 for France. French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in 1603 and established the first permanent European settlements at Port Royal in 1605 and Quebec City in 1608. Among French colonists of New France, Canadiens extensively settled the St. Lawrence River valley, Acadians settled the present-day Maritimes, while French fur traders and Catholic missionaries explored the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay and the Mississippi watershed to Louisiana. The French and Iroquois Wars broke out over control of the fur trade.

The English established fishing outposts in Newfoundland around 1610 and colonized the Thirteen Colonies to the south. A series of four Intercolonial Wars erupted between 1689 and 1763. Mainland Nova Scotia came under British rule with the Treaty of Utrecht (1713); the Treaty of Paris (1763) ceded all of New France to Britain following the Seven Years' War.

The Royal Proclamation (1763) carved the Province of Quebec out of New France and annexed Cape Breton Island to Nova Scotia. It also restricted the language and religious rights of French Canadians. In 1769, St. John's Island (now Prince Edward Island) became a separate colony. To avert conflict in Quebec, the Quebec Act of 1774 expanded Quebec's territory to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, and re-established the French language, Catholic faith, and French civil law in Quebec; it angered many residents of the Thirteen Colonies, helping to fuel the American Revolution. The Treaty of Paris (1783) recognized American independence and ceded territories south of the Great Lakes to the Unites States. Approximately 50,000 United Empire Loyalists fled the United States to Canada.New Brunswick was split from Nova Scotia to recognize Loyalist settlements in the Maritimes. To accommodate English-speaking Loyalists in Quebec , the Constitutional Act of 1791 divided the province into French-speaking Lower Canada and English-speaking Upper Canada, granting each their own elected Legislative Assembly.

Canada was a major front in the War of 1812 between the United States and British Empire. Its defence contributed to a sense of unity among British North Americans. Large-scale immigration to Canada began in 1815 from Britain and Ireland. The timber industry would also surpass the fur trade in importance in the early 1800s.

The desire for Responsible Government resulted in the aborted Rebellions of 1837. The Durham Report(1839) would subsequently recommend responsible government and the assimilation of French Canadians into British culture. The Act of Union (1840) merged The Canadas into a United Province of Canada. French and English Canadians would work together in the Assembly to reinstate French rights. They later established responsible government in 1849, as would all British North American colonies.

The signing of the Oregon Treaty by Britain and the United States in 1846 ended the Oregon boundary dispute, extending the border westward along the 49th parallel, and paving the way for British colonies on Vancouver Island (1849) and in British Columbia (1858). Canada launched a series of western exploratory expeditions to claim Rupert's Land and the Arctic region. The Canadian population grew rapidly because of high birth rates; British immigration was offset by emigration to the United States, especially by French Canadians moving to New England.

Law

Canada's judiciary plays an important role in interpreting laws and has the power to strike down laws that violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court and final arbiter and is led by the Right Honourable Madam Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Its nine members are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. All judges at the superior and appellate levels are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the prime minister and minister of justice, after consultation with non-governmental legal bodies. The federal cabinet appoints justices to superior courts at the provincial and territorial levels. Judicial posts at the lower provincial and territorial levels are filled by their respective governments (see Court system of Canada for more detail).

Common law prevails everywhere except in Quebec, where civil law predominates. Criminal law is solely a federal responsibility and is uniform throughout Canada. Law enforcement, including criminal courts, is a provincial responsibility, but in rural areas of all provinces except Ontario and Quebec, policing is contracted to the federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Culture

Canadian culture has historically been influenced by British, French, and Aboriginal cultures and traditions. It has also been influenced by American culture because of its proximity and migration between the two countries. American media and entertainment are popular if not dominant in Canada; conversely, many Canadian cultural products and entertainers are successful in the US and worldwide. Many cultural products are marketed toward a unified "North American" or global market.

The creation and preservation of distinctly Canadian culture are supported by federal government programs, laws and institutions such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Canada is a geographically vast and ethnically diverse country. There are cultural variations and distinctions from province to province and region to region. Canadian culture has also been greatly influenced by immigration from all over the world. Many Canadians value multiculturalism, and see Canadian culture as being inherently multicultural. Multicultural heritage is enshrined in Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

National symbols are influenced by natural, historical, and First Nations sources. Particularly, the use of the maple leaf, as a Canadian symbol, dates back to the early 18th century and is depicted on its current and previous flags, the penny, and on the coat of arms. Other prominent symbols include the beaver, Canada goose, common loon, the Crown, and the RCMP.

Canada's official national sports are ice hockey (winter) and lacrosse (summer). Hockey is a national pastime and the most popular spectator sport in the country. It is the most popular sport Canadians play, with 1.65 million active participants in 2004. Canada's six largest metropolitan areas - Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton - have franchises in the National Hockey League (NHL), and there are more Canadian players in the league than from all other countries combined. After hockey, other popular spectator sports include curling and football; the latter is played professionally in the Canadian Football League (CFL). Golf, baseball, skiing, soccer, volleyball, and basketball are widely played at youth and amateur levels, but professional leagues and franchises are not as widespread. Canada will host the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia.

Victoria British Columbia Canada

Victoria, British Columbia is always in season! Victoria has the mildest climate in Canada, and is a place so green all year that flowers fall out of the sky and even the lamp posts bloom. It is no wonder that it is called The Garden City!  The wild beauty of the Pacific coast and the adventure of the great outdoors are within the city limits and ocean and mountain vistas will follow you wherever you go.

Victoria remembers its colourful history with First Nations totem poles, heritage architecture and afternoon tea, and bustles with the energy of a university town, having the University of Victoria, Canada within its limits. Shop windows are full of British imports, Native art and the latest trends. Restaurants and cafés serve the freshest cuisine. The harbour is alive with the romance of an era when tall ships moored alongside the wharf and evenings glitter as lights twinkle and cast their magic from atop the landmark British Columbia Legislative Buildings.

The Garden City is a year-round tourism destination that offers a friendly, safe haven for all visitors. Getting here is very easy, and, once here, you will feel a million miles away.  With a clean environment and charming ambience, it is no surprise that Victoria, BC is one of the world's favourite destinations.