Canada: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, history, size, population, and government in the country of Canada.



Location--Canada forms the northern half of the North American continent, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific; flanked by huge islands on either coast, and sharing a 3,897-mi. southern border with the U.S. Canada also shares a border with the U.S. in Alaska.

How Created--The St. Lawrence River valley was the 1st part of the area to be explored by Europeans. Through the efforts of Samuel de Champlain the 1st permanent settlement in Canada was founded in 1608 at Quebec on the banks of the great river.

The word "Canada" probably comes from the Iroquois Indian word Kanata or Kanada, meaning "a group of huts." The French had a more grandiose name for the colony: New France. Voltaire was not deceived: "A few acres of snow!" he called it derisively.

In 1760, by which time there were 60,000 French settlers in the St. Lawrence valley area, Britain conquered Canada. The new leaders were content to leave the French undisturbed, preoccupied as they were with the rebellious Colonies to the south. During the American Revolution, 40,000 to 60,000 Loyalists moved to Canada, especially to the upper St. Lawrence region (Ontario), confirming British control. Thereafter, the independent nation of Canada evolved as the result of a mostly peaceful, evolutionary process of political integration. In 1867, the British Parliament passed the British North America Act, providing that "the Provinces of Canada [Quebec, Ontario], Nova Scotia and New Brunswick shall form one Dominion under the name of Canada." Other British North American territories were included as provinces in the Dominion later: Manitoba (1870), British Columbia (1871), Prince Edward Island (1873), Alberta and Saskatchewan (1905), Newfoundland (1949).

By 1931, when the British passed the Statute of Westminster, Canada was an independent nation, a voluntary partner in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Size--3,851,809 sq. mi. (9,976,139 sq. km.), second largest nation in the world. A country so vast that air-mapping still discovers "new" northern frontiers.

Population--23 million: British descent, 44%; French, 27%; other Europeans, 24%; Asian, Indian, Eskimo, and others, 5%. 45.7% Roman Catholic, 20.1% United Church of Canada (Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians), 13.2% Anglican Church of Canada, 4.5% Presbyterian, 3.6% Lutheran, 3.3% Baptist, 9.6% others.

Who Rules--Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II. (She told a Toronto audience on June 23, 1973, "I want the crown to be seen as a symbol...." This is a statement of the reality of the situation.) The Queen is represented by Jules Leger, governor-general, who took office in January, 1974, appointed by the Prime Minister, who is the head of the government. There is also a Parliament consisting of a Senate and a House of Commons.

Who REALLY Rules--A hot question in Canadian politics. Warnings have been sounded since the mid-'5os that the real power is vested in American corporations. There is no doubt of Canadian dependence on American markets and capital. American investment fueled the boom in the Canadian economy after W.W.II. The "branch plants" of American companies proliferated. In 1973, the U.S. took 68% of Canadian exports, and supplied 71% of imports.

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