Like much of North America, native people lived in the area known as Canada for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived. Now known as First Nations and the Inuit people, the Vikings arrival in about 1000 AD forever altered their people's future, as well as that of the land. The Métis are descendants of the union of the First Nations and European immigrants. Led by Viking explorer Leif Erikson, the Europeans first landed in today's Newfoundland. True to Vikings nature, they may have been the first to arrive, but did not permanently settle here.
It wasn't until the beginning of the late 15th century that British and French colonial expeditions arrived and settled on the Atlantic coast. However, by 1763 France had ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America to Britain after the Seven Years' War. These colonies unified in 1867 as a federal dominion of four provinces. Meanwhile, the American Revolutionary War raged below, with many people in the new United States wanted to stay loyal to Britain. Thousands came north to Canada and settled in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Québec, and Ontario. They were called United Empire Loyalists. During the War of 1812, the United States tried to conquer Canada but were defeated.
On July 1, 1867, Canada was united under a federal government. Provinces and territories were further developed and began the process for increasing autonomy. Sir John A. Macdonald became the first prime minister. Manitoba, the Yukon territory, and the Northwest Territories became part of Canada in 1870. The Canadian Pacific Railway, finished in 1885, allowed for Canadians to travel across the nation and Western expansion increased. As the prairies populated, Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905. British Columbia joined in 1871, and Prince Edward Island in 1873.
Canada maintained close ties to Britain and fought for the British Empire in World War I. More Canadians died in this war than any other war. Its soldiers garnered pride for the new nation after its success in capturing Vimy Ridge from the Germans in France in 1917. Women were given the right to vote by the end of the war, partly because of the help they gave making weapons while the men fought in Europe. Striving for greater independence, Canada became it's own nation in 1931 and the Government of Canada was granted the rights to make all decisions about Canada.
During World War II, Canada also became involved. This time, however, they experienced far less success and the Dieppe Raid in 1942 where most of the soldiers were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner was a particularly sour note. The Canadian forces were important in 1944 at Normandy, and they liberated the Netherlands.
In 1949, Newfoundland and Labrador became the 10th province of Canada. Lester Pearson earned distinction for being instrumental in ending the Suez Crisis in 1956, winning the Nobel Peace Prize and alter the seat for prime minister. He was also noted for helping the design the distinctive Canadian flag with Maple Leaf in 1965. In 1982, the Canada Act formally ended the "request and consent" provisions of the Statute of Westminster 1931 in relation to Canada, meaning the British parliament no longer had a general power to pass laws extending to Canada at its own request.
For as far as Canada has come, the country is still developing. It is a vast nation, with many different people and issues. Today, many French Canadians wish to form their own country and separate from the rest of Canada. The province of Québec held a referendum (vote) in 1980 to separate, but it only earned 40% support. Another referendum in 1995 garnered almost 50% in favor - but still not enough.
In 1999, Nunavut was created as Canada's third territory. This was part of an agreement with the Inuit people. The people also continue to change with a large number of immigrants arriving everyday. Canada has a greater mix of people with different backgrounds than almost anywhere on Earth (after Australia).
Until 1834, the City of Toronto was known as the City of York, names by the British immigrants that first came to the area. Like the rest of Canada, native people lived where current Toronto exist for thousands of years before the Europeans began to arrive.
The first European, Etinne Brule, reached the area in 1615. In 1813, during the War of 1812, Americans forced the British out of the area. After a short period of time, the British created a massive explosion that led to the death of an American commander and many soldiers, the American's set fire to many buildings in the city, including government buildings. However, the Americans were never able to take possession of the city.
During the 19th century, the City of Toronto began to rapidly grow with big businesses including meat packing businesses, which led to the city to gain the nickname of "Hogtown". In 1867, Toronto was named the capital of Ontario. Growth of the city continued after World War II when the city experienced an influx of immigrants. The city continues to grow and continues to be a popular destination for immigrants, creating the diverse and multicultural city that exists today.
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