Sunday, 1 July 2012

CASE 411 - The history of Canada

According to the North American archeological and Aboriginal genetic evidence, North and South America were the last continents in the world with human habitation. During the Wisconsin glaciation, 50,000 – 17,000 years ago, falling sea levels allowed people to move across the Bering land bridge (Beringia) that joined Siberia to north west North America (Alaska). At that point, they were blocked by the Laurentide ice sheet that covered most of Canada, which confined them to Alaska for thousands of years.
Around 16,000 years ago, the glaciers began melting, allowing people to move south and east into Canada. The exact dates and routes of the peopling of the Americas are the subject of an ongoing debate. The Queen Charlotte Islands, Old Crow Flats, and Bluefish Caves are some of the earliest archaeological sites of Paleo-Indians in Canada. Ice Age hunter-gatherers left lithic flake fluted stone tools and the remains of large butchered mammals.

The history of Canada covers the period from the arrival of Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago to the present day. Canada has been inhabited for millennia by distinctive groups of Aboriginal peoples, among whom evolved trade networks, spiritual beliefs, and social hierarchies. Some of these civilizations had long faded by the time of the first European arrivals and have been discovered through archaeological investigations. Various treaties and laws have been enacted between European settlers and the Aboriginal populations.
Beginning in the late 15th century, French and British expeditions explored, and later settled, along the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America to Britain in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the British Empire, which became official with the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and completed in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.

Over centuries, elements of Aboriginal, French, British and more recent immigrant customs have combined to form a Canadian culture. Canadian culture has also been strongly influenced by that of its linguistic, geographic and economic neighbour, the United States. Since the conclusion of the Second World War, Canadians have supported multilateralism abroad and socioeconomic development domestically. Canada currently consists of ten provinces and three territories and is governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.
With the end of the Seven Years' War and the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763), France ceded almost all of its territory in mainland North America, except for fishing rights off Newfoundland and two small islands where it could dry that fish. In turn France received the return of its sugar colony, Guadeloupe, which it considered more valuable than Canada. The new British rulers retained and protected most of the property, religious, political, and social culture of the French-speaking habitants, guaranteeing the right of the Canadiens to practice the Catholic faith and to the use of French civil law (now Quebec law) through the Quebec Act of 1774. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 had been issued in October, by King George III following Great Britain's acquisition of French territory. The proclamation organized Great Britain's new North American empire and to stabilize relations between the British Crown and Aboriginal peoples through regulation of trade, settlement, and land purchases on the western frontier.

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