Canada Day: the Story Behind the Holiday

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Part 2: One Big Country

Anyway, in 1841, the United Province of Canada came about, formed from the two former Canadas, East and West.

Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were still separate territories. British Columbia, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island were still on the loose. The vast Northwest Territories had yet to be carved up. And Quebec was Quebec.

On July 1, 1867, after years of debate, the Dominion of Canada was formed. The provinces were Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. This was a big step. For the first time, a central government (in Ottawa) had a place in governing all of the provinces. But this Canada wasn't the Canada we know today.

One piece of the puzzle fell into place when the Dominion bought the Northwest Territories in 1869. The next year, Manitoba came on board. British Columbia joined the Confederation (as it was being called) in 1871. Prince Edward Island joined in 1873.

Two more parts of the Canada we know today, Alberta and Saskatchewan, joined the Dominion in 1905. And in 1949, Newfoundland became the 10th province. The borders stayed the same for 50 years, until 1999, when Nunavut became the 11th province.

So what does Canada Day really celebrate? The beginning of a united country. From its earliest settlements by Native Americans, through French and English settlements and wars, Canada was a divided land. Some territories had banded together before 1867, but the Dominion Act was the first large step toward total unity, from sea to sea. Canada is today a very large country, with a very large population and a very large economy.

First page > A Collection of Territories > Page 1, 2

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David White