Canada has a long history of colonization, and that had a big impact on the country as it is today. The Vikings were the first settlers to colonize Canada, around 1000 A.D. The Norse set up several settlements that lasted for about 500 years. When exploration began after Christopher Columbus landed in the New World, several different countries began to colonize the area that is now known as Canada. Each of these countries left a mark on the culture and history of Canada.
The French explored the area and set up several colonies that became known as New France. The first explorations began in 1543. The fur trade became one of the main reasons behind the colonization of Canada. The fur trade helped to claim a wide area of territory for France. Also, missionaries came to the territories, set up mission homes, and established cities in the territories. Many of the first settlers were also farmers. The most well-known colonies were Acadia and Canada (also known as New France). These colonies stayed French colonies until France lost the Seven Years' War in 1763 and ceded the colonies to Great Britain. The influence of the French is still seen in Canada: French is one of Canada's official languages. The colonies began on the eastern coast of Canada and at one point extended all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.
The British also colonized parts of Canada in the 1700s. Before it became part of Great Britain, Scotland set up a colony in the area now known as Nova Scotia. Great Britain also established several colonies in the area. The British colonized the Hudson Bay area and then staked claims on the land stretching west to the Pacific Ocean. Once the British took control over the rest of the colonies in 1763, exploration and settlement began to spread west. Like with France, the early British settlements and explorers were looking to take advantage of the fur trading, and then farmers followed and began to set up more permanent settlements around the country. Explorers also looked for a route to go from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean over land or by using the rivers.
The borders of Canada were set after the War of 1812, when the southern boundary was set at the 49th parallel. On July 1, 1867, Canada was officially formed as the Dominion of Canada and included Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. By 1873, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories, and British Columbia became part of the country as well. The Northwest Territories was further divided in 1905 to create the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Newfoundland joined in 1949.
The colonization of Canada affected the way that the country was settled. Most of the early settlers were French, especially in the 1600s. After 1763, more of the settlers began to come from Great Britain. British loyalists from the United States moved up to Canada after the Revolutionary War. The construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway opened immigration to the western territories and provinces in the 1880s.
Although the Dominion of Canada was set up in 1867, Canada was still closely tied to and dependent on the British Parliament. This meant that when Great Britain went to war, Canada was expected to go to war as well. Although the government was independent, Canada still needed the British Parliament to agree to make amendments to the constitution until 1982.
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By: Kim Morrisseau