Canada has 38.3 million people. Canada is the second largest country in the world in area (after Russia), covering 9.98 million square kilometres. It is bigger than the whole of the European Union, 30 per cent larger than Australia and three times larger than India. It is one of the world’s most sparsely populated countries (fourth lowest population density in the world). Canada shares an 8,890-km long border with USA (including Alaska) – the longest border in the world not patrolled by military forces. Canada’s capital is Ottawa (4th largest city), and its three largest cities are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Eighty-one percent of the total population resides in cities. About 90% of Canada’s population is concentrated within 160 kilometres of the Canada / USA border. Beginning in the 16th century, British and French expeditions explored and later settled along the Atlantic coast. After various armed conflicts, France ceded nearly all its colonies in North America in 1763. Canada crafted what many observers consider to be a model multicultural society, welcoming immigrant populations from every other continent. Canada is officially bilingual in English and French. Quebec, a Canada province with Montreal as its largest city, exhibits French adaptations: more than three-fourths of its population speaks French as their primary language. The French character in Quebec is reflected in differences in religion, architecture, and schooling. Canada ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, and education. A highly developed country, Canada has the 24th highest per-capita income globally and 16th highest ranking in the Human Development Index.

  1. In about 2,000 words, I will describe major events that affected Canada from 1900 to the present.
  2. 1900 – Four years earlier in 1896, gold was found and a gold rush began as miners and adventurers poured in, mainly from USA. Other minerals were also found: copper, lead, zinc, and silver. These discoveries stimulated railway and town construction and brought thousands of permanent residents. By the 1930s, Canada had become a major mining country. At the same time, the land rush to the Prairies widened the country’s agricultural base. As was often the case, the development of the west disturbed the relations of English and French in Canada.
  3. 1903 – The United Kingdom (on behalf of Canada) and USA settle the Alaska boundary dispute on the border with British Columbia (in Canada).
  4. 1905 – Alberta and Saskatchewan are partitioned out of the Northern Territories to become the eighth and ninth provinces of Canada.
  5. 1910 – Royal Canadian Navy is established. The measure was bitterly opposed by the French nationalists in Quebec, who argued that conscription in Britain’s army would follow. Their clamorous opposition led to the defeat of the government candidate in a Quebec by-election in 1911.
  6. 1914 – Canada achieves one long coast-to-coast railway (the Canadian Pacific). 
  7. 1914 (to 1918) – World War One. Great Britain declares war on Germany, bringing Canada into the war. Canada was almost totally unprepared. An initial contingent of 33,000 troops sailed for England in October 1914 to lay the foundation for the creation of the 1st Canadian Division. In April 1915, the Canadians saw their first major action in the Second Battle of Ypres (Belgium, where German forces first used poison gas as a weapon). In the spring of 1917, Canada introduced compulsory military service – conscription – in response to a growing manpower crisis in the Canadian army. Conscription tore Canada apart. French Canada had never been enthusiastic about the war, and many fewer French Canadians volunteered for military service than did English Canadians.
  8. 1918 – World War One. Out of approximately 625,000 who served, about 60,000 were killed in action or died in active service, and another 173,000 were wounded.
  9. 1918 – Prohibition (ban on alcohol beverages) in Canada is enacted federally.
  10. 1918 – Women gain right to vote in federal elections, but First Nations women can only vote if they give up their status and treaty rights.
  11. 1918 – Canadian Air Force is established.
  12. 1918 – Spanish flu epidemic arrived with servicemen on board a ship. About 50,000 Canadians died from the epidemic.
  13. 1919 – Prohibition in Canada ends federally.
  14. 1920 – Canada is admitted as a full member of the League of Nations.
  15. 1929 – Great Depression begins resulting in widespread poverty and unemployment for the next decade. With its economy so heavily dependent on natural resource extraction, Canada was especially hard hit by the Great Depression.
  16. 1931 – Statute of Westminster is passed (proclaimed) ending all legislative supremacy of the British Parliament over the dominion parliament and made Canada a sovereign state sharing a common crown.
  17. 1939 (to 1945) – World War Two. Canada, with its parliament’s support, declared war on Germany. After Britain, Canada was (prior to USA’s entry into the war in December 1941) the second most powerful of Germany’s adversaries. In 1942, the Mackenzie King government called a national plebiscite asking Canadian voters to release it from that pledge not to order a conscription; nearly two-thirds of Canadian voters supported conscription, though in Quebec three-fourths opposed it. During the war, the government mobilises Canadian money, supplies, and volunteers to support Britain. Canada expands its small navy into the third largest in the world, after USA and Britain. It had 363 ships and 100,000 sailors (of whom 6,700 were women). By the end of the war, more than 1,000,000 Canadians (about 50,000 of whom were women) had served in the three services. Total casualties were lower than in the previous war, still some 42,000 were killed or died in service, and 54,400 were wounded.
  18. 1942 – Following the Japanese strike on Pearl Harbour, the federal government interns 22,000 Japanese men, women and children in British Columbia for the remainder of the war. The government apologized for the Japanese internment in 1988.
  19. 1945 – Canada joins the United Nations.
  20. 1947 – The Canadian Citizenship Act 1946 comes into force creating a new, separate, Canadian legal citizenship for all British subjects born, raised, or resident in Canada and automatic citizenship for all those born in Canada after this date.
  21. 1949 – Newfoundland, the last British colony in North America, enters Dominion of Canada as the tenth province.
  22. 1950 – In the two decades after 1950, Canada enjoyed unprecedented growth and prosperity. Much of the private capital came from USA.
  23. 1959 – The Saint Lawrence Seaway, which is a system of canals and channels in Canada and USA that permits oceangoing vessels to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes of North America, is officially opened. It was a joint project between Canada and USA.
  24. 1960 – First Nations people are granted the right to vote in federal elections without having to give up their status and treaty rights.
  25. 1964 – A new national flag of Canada was adopted after much debate. The Senate gave its approval on 17 December 1964. Queen Elizabeth signed the royal proclamation on 28 January 1965 and the new flag, with its red maple leaf and side bars, flew officially for the first time on 15 February 1965.
  26. 1967 – French President Charles de Gaulle, who saw in Quebec a means to raise French prestige in the world, visited Quebec during Expo 1967 (the World’s Fair) and received an extraordinarily emotional reception. In an apparently calculated move, Charles De Gaulle encouraged Quebec separatism and created a furore. Charles De Gaulle was rebuked by the Canadian government, but his visit contributed to and reflected the growing separatist movement in Quebec.
  27. 1968 – Pierre Trudeau, a constitutional lawyer, French, who is against separatism, became Prime Minister of Canada. Pierre Trudeau was chiefly concerned with maintaining the unity of Canada and the good relations of English and French Canadians.
  28. 1969 – Implementation of official bilingualism – English and French.
  29. 1970 – The government invokes the War Measures Act to apprehend the Front de liberation du Quebec (FLQ), a separatist paramilitary group in Quebec that was responsible for over 160 violent incidents that killed eight people, and in October 1970 had kidnapped a British official (later released) and Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte, who they killed. The FLQ collapses. Founded in the early 1960s, FLQ had the aim of establishing an independent and socialist Quebec through violent means.
  30. 1976 – Summer Olympic Games held in Montreal, Quebec.
  31. 1979 – Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark, 39, took power with a minority government.
  32. 1980 – Pierre Trudeau becomes prime minister for a second time.
  33. 1980 – A referendum on Quebec independence is held, resulting in a majority (59.56%) of the province voting to remain in Canada.
  34. 1982 – Canada achieves total independence from Great Britain.
  35. 1984 – John Turner became the Prime Minster of Canada when Pierre Trudeau resigned. But later Progressive Conservative Party won a landslide victory and its leader Brian Mulroney, a lawyer from Quebec, became Prime Minister of Canada.
  36. 1995 – Another referendum on Quebec independence is held. A majority (50.58%) of the province votes to remain in Canada.
  37. 1996 – As prosperity returned to the country, enthusiasm for independence in Quebec waned.
  38. 2005 – Same sex marriage is legalised.
  39. 2008 – In the House of Commons, Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally apologises to the survivors of the Indian Residential School System on behalf of the Government of Canada. The Indian Residential School was a system where approximately 86,000 Indigenous peoples in Canada were at some point between 1879 and 1997 enrolled as residential children. These boarding schools attempted to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. As of March 2016, a total of C$1,622,422,106 (more than a trillion) has been paid to 79,309 former students. An additional C$3.18 billion has been paid to 31,103 former students as of March 2019, through IAPs (Independent Assessment Process) which are for damages suffered beyond the norm due to the Indian Residential School.
  40. 2008 – Canada survived the global economic downturn that began in 2008 better than most of its partners in the Group of Eight (G8), partly because of the country’s closely regulated banking system.
  41. 2010 – Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, British Columbia.
  42. 2015 – Justin Trudeau, son of Pierre Trudeau, becomes Prime Minster of Canada.
  43. 2017 – A “lone wolf” shooter attacked a mosque in Quebec during evening prayers, killing six people and wounding a number of others. The suspect in the shooting, a student, was known to be a virulent opponent of immigration – particularly by Muslims – and was a supporter of right-wing nationalists.
  44. 2018 – Canada was locked in a diplomatic dispute with China that came about from the Canadian government’s decision in December 2018 to arrest Meng Wanzhou, a high-profile executive for Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, in response to an extradition request from USA. China immediately protested the arrest of Meng Wanzhou (daughter of the founder of Huawei) in Vancouver on USA’s charges that Huawei had committed fraud related to the company’s alleged dealings with Iran, in violation of USA-imposed sanctions. A second charge alleged that Huawei had stolen technology from T-Mobile. Seemingly as retribution for Meng Wanzhou’s arrest, China apprehended a pair of Canadians – a former diplomat and a businessman – and accused them of spying.
  45. 2021 – The unmarked graves of 215 children were confirmed through the use of ground penetrating radar on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School – at one time the largest residential school in the country. Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation called the finding an “unthinkable loss”. One month after the confirmation of 215 unmarked graves at a former residential school, ground-penetrating radar revealed an estimated 751 graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Cowessess First Nation territory. The Marieval school was open from 1899 to 1997 and was administered by the Catholic Church until 1968.
  46. 2021 – Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, arrested on a USA warrant in 2018, was released, and soon after the two Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig held in China were also released.
  47. 2020 (to 2022) – COVID-19 pandemic caused more than 38,000 deaths in Canada.
  48. 2022 – Canada has 38.3 million people.
    © Comasters May 2022.

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