History of Canada

Canada Flag

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, with distinct 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 neighbor, 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.


Canada Map Canada Map - Click for larger view

Canada is a federation of ten provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan) and three territories (Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut). Formally considered a constitutional monarchy, Canada is governed by its own House of Commons. While the governor-general is officially the representative of Queen Elizabeth II, in reality the governor-general acts only on the advice of the Canadian prime minister.


English and French are the only two official languages in Canada. All communications and services provided from the federal government are available in both languages. Most Canadians are functionally monolingual, although some parts of the country have both English and French speakers. Over a quarter of Canadians are bilingual or multilingual. Many people in Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City are at least conversationally bilingual.

English is the dominant language in all provinces except Québec, where French is dominant and actively promoted as the main language. However, there are numerous francophone communities scattered around the country.


Canadian culture is a term that embodies the artistic, culinary, literary, humour, musical, political and social elements that are representative of Canada and Canadians. Throughout Canada's history, its culture has been influenced by European culture and traditions, especially Britishand French, and by its own indigenous cultures. Over time, elements of the cultures of Canada's immigrant populations have become incorporated into mainstream Canadian culture. The population has also been influenced by American culture because of a shared language, proximity and migration between the two countries.

Canada is often characterized as being "very progressive, diverse, and multicultural". Canada's culture draws influences from its broad range of constituent nationalities, and policies that promote a just society are constitutionally protected. Canadian Government policies – such as publicly funded health care; higher and more progressive taxation; outlawing capital punishment; strong efforts to eliminate poverty; an emphasis on cultural diversity; strict gun control; and most recently, legalizing same-sex marriage – are social indicators of Canada's political and cultural values.

Canada's federal government has influenced Canadian culture with programs, laws and institutions. It has created crown corporations to promote Canadian culture through media, such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the National Film Board of Canada(NFB), and promotes many events which it considers to promote Canadian traditions. It has also tried to protect Canadian culture by setting legal minimums on Canadian content in many media using bodies like the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission(CRTC).

Weather and Climate

Canada Climate

Average winter and summer high temperatures across Canada vary from region to region. Winters can be harsh in many parts of the country, particularly in the interior and Prairie provinces, which experience a continental climate, where daily average temperatures are near −15 °C (5 °F), but can drop below −40 °C (−40 °F) with severe wind chills. In noncoastal regions, snow can cover the ground for almost six months of the year, while in parts of the north snow can persist year-round. Coastal British Columbia has a temperate climate, with a mild and rainy winter. On the east and west coasts, average high temperatures are generally in the low 20s °C (70s °F), while between the coasts, the average summer high temperature ranges from 25 to 30 °C (77 to 86 °F), with temperatures in some interior locations occasionally exceeding 40 °C (104 °F).

Entry Requirements

Before you plan your visit, you should find out if you need a visa to enter Canada. If you do not need a visitor visa, you will still need to meet specific requirements.. Starting between September and December 2013, citizens from 29 countries and 1 territory will need to give biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) when they apply for a visa.

If you need to give biometrics (fingerprints and photograph), and you are applying on paper, please do not mail in your application. Submit your application in person to the visa application centre (VAC) nearest you. VAC staff will check that your application is complete and will confirm that you have paid the correct fees before you can give your biometrics.

If you are applying from within the United States, submit your application online. You can apply online or on paper. If you need help, you can contact your nearest visa application centre (VAC).

Public Holidays

Canada Statutory Holidays 2015
Date Holiday Name Where it is Observed
January 1, Thursday New Year's Day National
February 16, Monday Islander Day PEI
Feb 16, Monday Louis Riel Day MB
February 16, Monday (Feb 9 in BC) Family Day BC, AB, SK, ON
February 16, Monday Viola Desmond Day NS
February 14, Saturday Valentine's Day Not a stat holiday
March 17, Tuesday St. Patrick's Day Not a stat holiday
April 3, Friday Good Friday National except QC
April 6, Monday Easter Monday QC
May 10, Sunday Mother's Day Not a stat holiday
May 18, Monday Victoria Day National
June 21, Sunday Father's Day Not a stat holiday
June 24, Wednesday St. Jean Baptiste Day QC
June 21, Sunday Aboriginal Day NWT
July 1, Wednesday Canada Day National
August 3, Monday Civic Holiday AB, BC, SK, ON, NB, NU
September 7, Monday Labour Day National
October 12, Monday Thanksgiving National except NB, NS, NL
October 31, Saturday Halloween Not a stat holiday
November 11, Wednesday Remembrance Day National except MB, ON, QC, NS
December 25, Friday Christmas Day National
December 26, Saturday Boxing Day ON


March break this year is March 16 - 20 (inclusive).

Daylight savings time stats on March 8 - move clock one hour forward - and it ends on November 1 when clocks move one hour back.

Travel Advisory

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Canada. Exercise normal security precautions.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Canada is a country filled with wonderfully friendly people, classy cities, and a diverse, beautiful landscape. From the ice in the Yukon, to beaches on the east coast, the mountains of Calgary to the rainforests of Vancouver, Canada is a country that is often skipped over on many world trips, and doesn't get as much attention as it should. It's a tremendously beautiful country with a lot to offer.

Rates can vary a lot depending on what city you're staying in. On average, you'll wind up paying about $30 USD for a dorm room at a hostel while you should expect to pay around $50 USD for a budget hotel room.

This is a big country, and it's hard to get around without a car. Within the city limits, you'll find great public transportation networks, especially the metro system which is about $2.75 USD for a one way ticket. There is a train service (VIA Rail) that runs from coast to coast and is very scenic, though not cheap. Companies like Greyhound and Red Arrow offer long-haul bus service across the country that are decent, but don't make for the comfiest of conditions. There have been numerous reported instances of theft, so be on your guard and watch your belongings. If you're going between provinces or staying a while in the country, consider renting a car for between $35-60 USD per day. As your last alternative, you can fly, but since the country has only two major airlines (WestJet and Air Canada) prices are often very high.

Canada has a lot of outdoor activities. No matter what part of the country you are in, there is always something to do. Costs range from $20-over 100 USD depending what you are doing and if you need a guide.

Tipping in Canada is much the same as it is in the U.S. In most cases, a tip in the range of 15% - 20% is perfectly acceptable.

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