An excerpt from the award-winning aerial documentary Over Canada: An Aerial Adventure, a millennium project sponsored by RBC and produced in 1999 by Gary McCartie, which depicts the Canadian landscape from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia.
As French explorers and fur traders pushed ever westward and southward, the area to which the name Canada applied increased rapidly, but its extent seems never to have been defined officially. In March 1762, after the CONQUEST, General Thomas GAGE informed General Jeffery AMHERST that the limits between Canada and Louisiana had never been clearly described. He could only state "what were generally believed ... to have been the Boundaries of Canada & give you my own Opinion." He judged "not only the [Great] Lakes, which are Indisputable, but the whole Course of the Mississippi from its Heads to its Junction with the Illinois" had been considered by the French to be part of Canada. This may be one reason why Britain temporarily abandoned the name and called the colony the Province of Québec.
Canada came into its own in 1791 when the CONSTITUTIONAL ACT (or Canada Act) divided Québec, then considerably enlarged, into the provinces of UPPER CANADA and LOWER CANADA. In 1841 they were joined to form the PROVINCE OF CANADA. In 1867 the BRITISH NORTH AMERICA ACT united the Province of Canada (divided into Ontario and Québec) with NS and NB to form "One Dominion under the name of Canada." The new area was relatively small, but it expanded rapidly. The purchase of RUPERT'S LAND in 1870 extended it to the Rocky Mountains and the Arctic Ocean; the addition of BC in 1871 created a Canada extending from sea to sea; PEI was added in 1873 and Britain handed over title to the arctic islands in 1880. This gave Canada substantially the present boundaries, except for Labrador and Newfoundland, which joined the federation in 1949. In a striking comment, the distinguished American historian Samuel Eliot Morison remarked that "never, since the Roman empire, have two local names received such a vast extension as Canada and St. Lawrence."
Author W. KAYE LAMB
Links to Other Sites
Parliament of Canada
The official source for current news and information about the Parliament of Canada. Also features online webcasts, Hansard, history notes and much more. Check out the useful "How Canadians Govern Themselves" paper from the Information and Documentation Branch.
Symbols of Canada
An illustrated guide to national and provincial symbols of Canada, our national anthem, national and provincial holidays, and more. Click on "Historical Flags of Canada" and then "Posters of Historical Flags of Canada" for additional images. From the Canadian Heritage website.
Canada: Places to Go
Click on the interactive map of Canada to explore photogenic tourist spots in every region of the country. From the Canadian Tourism Commission.
Constitutional Acts 1867 to 1982
The complete texts of the Constitutional Acts 1867 to 1982. From the Department of Justice Canada.
Library and Archives Canada
The website for Library and Archives Canada. Offers searchable online collections of textual documents, photographs, audio recordings, and other digitized resources. Also includes virtual exhibits about Canadian history and culture, and research aids that assist in locating material in the physical collections.
Maps of provinces and territories from "The Atlas of Canada," Natural Resources Canada.
Canada: A People's History
This CBC feature program highlights significant events, issues, and personalities in Canadian history.
This extensive Canadian Museum of Civilization resource details the exploits of Canada’s early explorers from the 16th to the 18th century. With many maps and illustrations.
Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers
Check this site for photos and information about specific grave sites of former Prime Ministers of Canada. From the website for the National Program for the Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers.
Celebrating Dominion Day 1867-1917
Browse the "Images Canada" collection for historical photos of Canadians celebrating "Dominion Day."
Keys to History
Search this "Keys to History" website for fascinating online exhibits about notable people, places, and events in Canadian history. From Montréal's McCord Museum.
Electoral Atlas of the Dominion of Canada (1895)
This website features an interactive map of the federal electoral boundaries in Canada as they existed in 1895. From Library and Archives Canada.
Geographical Names of Canada
Search the "Canadian Geographical Names Data Base" for the official name of a city, town, lake (or any other geographical feature) in any province or territory in Canada. See also the real story of how Toronto got its name. A Natural Resources Canada website.
A Collector's Passion - The Peter Winkworth Collection
View an extensive collection of distinctive paintings that document more than four centuries of Canadian history. Also features artist's biographies and notes about specific paintings. From the Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana at Library and Archives Canada.
Information on Canada’s history and geography, famous Canadians, the evolution of the Canadian government, what to do when visiting or touring Canada and much more. From the Government of Canada.
Search The Champlain Society digital collection for full text documents about Canadian history. Features first-hand accounts of Samuel de Champlain's voyages in New France and much more.
The Growth of an Empire
This article documents Canada’s complex relationship with Britain in the late 19th century. From the Canadian Military History Gateway.
Canadian Economic Development
This University of Toronto online course discusses key factors in Canada’s economic development. Read the lecture notes, peruse the graphics and listen to the lectures in RealAudio format.
Canada's Trading Revolution
The full text of "Canada's Trading Revolution," a 1995 lecture about international trade. From Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.
Important Moments in Canadian History
See a chronology of significant events in Canadian history. From the University of British Columbia.
BBC Country profile: Canada
Facts and figures about Canada and Canadian history from the BBC.
Four Directions Teachings
Elders and traditional teachers representing the Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, and Mi’kmaq share teachings about their history and culture. Animated graphics visualize each of the oral teachings. This website also provides biographies of participants, transcripts, and an extensive array of learning resources for students and their teachers. In English with French subtitles.
The Penguin History of Canada
A brief synopsis of “The Penguin History of Canada.” From the Penguin Group (Canada) website.
Treaty of Paris, 1783
Scroll down the page for an overview of the Treaty of Paris (1783.) Click on the “Treaty of Paris” link for more information. From the “Canada in the Making” website.
Historic Photos of Canada
The "Historic Photos of Canada" website offers hundreds of high resolution images of Canada’s first 50 years of nationhood, as seen through the lenses of the world’s earliest cameras.
Canadians share their photos and videos of trips across the country. A great way to sample Canada's scenic highlights and diverse recreational opportunities.
Canada Diamond Jubilee Broadcast
Listen to the festivities celebrating Canada's Diamond Jubilee on July 1, 1927. From CBC Digital Archives.
National Air Photo Library
NAPL On-Line allows clients to search and retrieve metadata for over three million air photos. Click on "Revised NAPL On-Line" to access their interactive map of Canada. From Natural Resources Canada.
Mary Pickford, Glenn Gould, Anne of Green Gables, and Captain Kirk: Canadians in the world's imagination
Robert Fulford ponders Canadian's age-old quest for a distinct national identity.
CIA - The World Factbook
A profile of Canada with pertinent data and statistics. From The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency of the US.
Canada: a three-minute journey
High-definition highlights from coast to coast to coast across Canada's 13 provinces and territories.
Canadas of the Mind
See online excerpts from a collection of essays about the convoluted evolution of Canadian nationhood in the 20th century. From Google Books.