Canada History Summary


During the 11th century. Viking expeditions touched the Canadian coast in several places, founding settlements that had a short life and of which nothing was known in Europe. In 1497 Giovanni and Sebastiano Caboto, with an English expedition, went down to Capo Bretone; the Cortereal brothers, Portuguese, recognized the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador; later (1509), it seems that S. Caboto, again on behalf of the English, reached Hudson Bay. With a French expedition, Giovanni da Verrazzano (1524) carried out a systematic exploration of the coasts south of Cape Breton, repeated the following year by Estevão Gomes on behalf of the Spaniards. Jacques Cartier then made three trips (1534, 1535 and 1541) exploring the Gulf of San Lorenzo and going up the river to the site of Montréal; in the name of France he took possession of the country, since then known as Canada (perhaps from the Iroquois kanata “village”). Land exploration began at the beginning of 1600, with Samuel de Champlain, who between 1603 and 1615 traveled the San Lorenzo basin to Lake Huron, also founding in 1608 the city of Québec (future capital of New France), in which Richelieu imposed the government of the Company of New France. Étienne Brulé discovered the Lake Superior (1621) and Jean Nicollet of Michigan (1634). The French explorations then continued N of the lakes, up to touch (1672) the coast of Hudson Bay, which from 1668 (after maritime explorations, including those of Martin Frobisher and William Baffin) the crown of England had granted to the Company of the same name; Thus began a period of close Anglo-French competition between the Hudson’s Bay Company and similar French commercial companies engaged in an attempt to anticipate each other in the exploration of the O, through both specially organized expeditions and the individual action of hunters. of furs and traders. In the first decades of the 1700s, Lake Winnipeg and the Saskatchewan River were reached, later the Coppermine River and the Arctic coast, the Great Slave Lake, the Mackenzie River (1789) and finally, James Cook (1778), Spanish by Alessandro Malaspina (1791) and English by George Vancouver (1791-94). In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the systematic exploration of the West continued and above all of the Arctic which, in some ways, is still ongoing.


After 1713 France had planned to join Québec with a line of forts with New Orleans. The threat to the English colonies was averted with the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War which sanctioned the passage of New France to England (Treaty of Paris, 1763). The Quebec Act of 1774 guaranteed the rights of Franco-Canadians by defining the legal-administrative status of the colony. Increased the number of English following the American War of Independence, in 1791 the Constitutional Act divided Canada into the two provinces of Upper Canada (English) and Lower Canada (French). In 1840 the Reunion Act established the union of the two provinces into a single autonomous political entity with an Assembly in which they were represented equally. After the choice of Ottawa as the capital (1858), in 1867 the British North America Act marked the birth of the Dominion of Canada: having ascertained the inadequacy of the unitary solution for coexistence between Canadians of English and French origin, the country became a federation formed by the provinces of Québec (formerly Lower Canada), Ontario (formerly Upper Canada), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, each with ample local autonomy, while the federal government maintained the care of general matters.

In 1869 the Hudson’s Bay Company ceded its rights to the Northwest Territories; the Red River settlement became the province of Manitoba in 1870, British Columbia became the province of Canada in 1871 and Prince Edward Island in 1873. The last decades of the century were characterized by an expansion also towards French-speaking territories and by a notable economic development which transformed Canada and led, at the beginning of 1900, to new contrasts between the two linguistic groups.


Also thanks to his participation in the First World War (opposed by Québec), Canada in 1919 was admitted to the Peace Conference and to the League of Nations as an original member. In 1931 the Statute of Westminster sanctioned the independence of the dominions within the Commonwealth. The great depression of the 1930s caused the growth of social tensions and the birth of new political formations of socialist, moderately progressive or conservative inspiration that joined the two dominant parties: the Conservative party of Canada (since 1942 Progressive conservative party of Canada) and the Liberal party of Canada, who took turns leading the country since 1867. The Second World War gave an impetus to the industrial development of Canada (which bought Terranova in 1949) which since then has established close military and economic dependence ties with the USA (joining NATO in 1949).

In Québec, meanwhile, a new radical nationalism was developing, inclined to separatism, which led to the birth (1963) of a Front de libération du Québec, author of attacks and kidnappings (1970), and the growth of the Parti québécois (founded in 1968 with an independent and progressive program), which came to the provincial government following the electoral victory of 1976. After the advent of the new liberal leader P. Trudeau at the head of the federal government (1968), the Canada adopted a foreign policy economic and economic more autonomous from the USA (recognition of the People’s Republic of China in 1970, growth of relations with socialist countries and with those of the Third World, decrease of the military presence in Europe). Internally, Trudeau implemented a policy of protecting the French language and culture and promoting bilingualism. Québec’s separatist tendencies were defeated in a referendum held in the province in 1980. After lengthy negotiations, Trudeau managed to get the British Parliament to approve a constitutional reform (Constitution Act, 1982) which contained a charter of rights and freedoms, with provisions in matter of protection of the cultural pluralism of the country and of the rights of indigenous peoples, of control of the provinces over their own natural resources, etc.

According to itypeusa, the economic hardships that emerged from the mid-1970s and the recession of the early 1980s favored the clear victory of the Conservatives in the 1984 elections (confirmed in 1988). The new government, chaired by B. Mulroney, relaunched the policy of close alliance and collaboration with the USA. Following the failure (1992) of the proposed modification of the Constitution that would have favored the autonomy of Québec, there was the resumption of separatist tendencies in the province which, together with the growth of the claims of Indians and Inuit, called into question the structure of the federation. The elections of 1993 marked the return to government of the Liberal party with J. Chrétien, who had supported the reduction of unemployment through a policy of public works and cuts in military spending. The most significant datum of the consultations was, however, the clear affirmation of the Bloc québécois that it became the official opposition party. NAFTAentered into force in 1994 (➔ # 10132;), the Canadian political scene continued to be dominated by the question of Québec, where a referendum was held (1995) which sanctioned the defeat of the secessionists.

Federal government action focused on the country’s significant economic problems, while a large part of public opinion grew mistrust of US influence in the name of defending national identity. The liberal government, after sending troops to Afghanistan in the campaign against the Taliban regime (2001), he dissociated himself from US policy with respect to further military interventions in the Middle East. The 2006 elections saw the defeat of the liberals, involved in various financial scandals; the conservative minority government was formed, led by Prime Minister S. Harper, which strengthened its parliamentary representation in the early elections of 2008 but without achieving a self-sufficient majority. The early elections in May 2011 instead assigned the conservatives an absolute majority of seats (165 out of 308 in the House of Commons), while the consultations held in October 2015 brought the left back to the government after nine years, recording the clear victory of the party liberal, which hasobtained an absolute majority of seats (184 out of 338 against 102 for the conservatives), and whose leader J. Trudeau took over from Harper as premier, reconfirmed following the October 2019 general elections, in which the liberals obtained 156 seats (14 fewer than the absolute majority and 28 fewer than in 2015), against the 122 awarded by the conservatives. In August 2021, in order to strengthen his majority, Prime Minister Trudeau asked for the dissolution of Parliament and called early consultations; Held the following month, the elections awarded the Liberal Party 158 seats out of 338 in the House, forcing the politician to seek a majority to form the new executive.

Canada History Summary