Canada is an independent nation and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name Canada is from an Indian word meaning “village” or “settlement.” Ottawa is the capital. Canada is the secondlargest country in the world, occupying all of North America north of the United States except Alaska. While it ranks 31st in population, Canada is an important power in world affairs. A democratic nation with traditional and strong ties to the Englishspeaking world, Canada is an active participant in United Nations affairs and a valued member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to which it contributes both armed forces and political support. Strong both industrially and agriculturally, Canada is also in the upper ranks of the economically important nations of the world.
The first inhabitants were the ancestors of the modern Indians and Inuit—the Canadian “First Nations.” The first Europeans to set foot in North America were the Vikings, who reached Canada in a.d. 1001 and spent the winter on the northern coast of Newfoundland . In the late 15th and early 16th centuries, European explorers again reached Canada in their search for a sea route, the Northwest Passage, to the Far East. Among them were John Cabot and Henry Hudson for England , and Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain for France. Cabot made voyages to the New World in 1497 and 1498; Cartier in 1534, 1535, and 1541; Hudson in 1609 and 1610; while Champlain undertook five voyages beginning in 1603. These voyages caused both En gland and France to claim large and vaguely defined areas that included what is now Canada. The French under Champlain were the first to colonize the country, the earliest permanent settlement being made at Quebec in 1608. The French developed the fur trade, and such men as the sieur de La Salle, Louis Hennepin, Louis Jolliet, and Jacques Marquette were pioneer explorers of the inland regions, including the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. The English, by establishing the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1670, competed with the French for the fur trade. Each side had Indian allies, the Hurons being the chief supporters of the French and the Iroquois of the English.
The first warfare between the rivals occurred in 1613 when American colonists destroyed Port Royal, Nova Scotia, now Annapolis Royal. In 1629 the English captured Quebec. Between 1689 and 1763, four European wars between the French and English were also fought in North America. The last, from 1754 to 1763, was known in North America as the French and Indian War. It ended after Great Britain once more captured Quebec in 1759. The treaty of 1763 gave the British possession of Canada. The Quebec Act of 1774 created the province of Quebec, which took in the area E of the Mississippi River and N of the Ohio River, as well as eastern Canada. When the American Revolution began, the colonists tried to get the Canadians to join them in rebellion, but neither the English-speaking nor the French-speaking inhabitants were persuaded. The Americans invaded Canada and captured Montreal in 1775 but later had to retreat. In 1777 the British used Canada as a starting point for an invasion of New York but were defeated at Saratoga. During the War of 1812 several battles were fought on Canadian soil between the Americans and the British and Canadians with mixed results and no permanent advantage to either side. The final section of the boundary between Canada and the United States, in the Far West, was not settled until 1846.
The British changed colonial boundaries and governmental systems several times in the 19th century until in 1867 the British North America Act established the Dominion of Canada, with arrangements for a democratic form of government. At first the dominion consisted of four provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. Since then six more provinces have been admitted: Manitoba in 1870, British Columbia in 1871, Prince Edward Island in 1873, Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905, and Newfoundland in 1949. There are three other governmental units, the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
The discovery of gold in the Klondike area of the Yukon brought a short-lived rush of prospectors in 1897 and 1898. In World War I Canada sent an army to Europe to fight on the side of the Allies. After the war, Canada joined the League of Nations and in the 1920s established its own diplomatic service. In 1931 the British Parliament’s Statute of Westminster made the dominions, such as Canada, completely self-governing. The Canadian army, navy, and air force played important roles in World War II.
Modern Canada is a developed, industrialized nation of more than 31 million people with a diverse economy. Its major cities are Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg. In recent years, the old differences between English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians has again come to the fore, chiefly in Quebec, over such matters as teaching language in schools. There is also a conflict between the central government and some of the provinces over the sharing of the profits and taxes from Canada’s extremely valuable energy resources. In October 1980 the government asked the British Parliament to transfer from London the British North America Act of 1867, to Canada so that the dominion could control and amend its own political and governmental affairs. Canada received this constitution in 1982, but Quebec did not ratify the constitution.
In 1984 the Meech Lake Accord proposed changes in the constitution bringing in Quebec as a culturally “distinct society,” but it was rejected by English-speaking Canada in 1990 as Newfoundland and Manitoba failed to ratify it. In 1992 voters also rejected the Charlottetown Accord that would have modified the constitution to suit the Quebecois. In 1992 Canada, the United States, and Mexico negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that established a North American free-trade zone starting in 1994. In 1998 the government issued a formal apology to Canada’s indigenous people for 150 years of mistreatment and established a fund for reparations. In 1999 Canada split the Northwest Territories, creating the Inuit dominated territory of Nunavut out of the eastern part. In 2000 a bill was passed making it harder financially for Quebec to secede from the nation. Canada supported the United States after the terrorist attacks of 2001 by helping travellers strand ed after the hijackings, and later, by sending forces to Afghanistan. Canada opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.Vancouver Island
Everyone is familiar with the city of Vancouver and it is a must-see when visiting Canada. Not as many people recognize or know about Vancouver Island, located off of The West Coast of the continent. In fact, Vancouver Island is located across from United State's State of Washington, and is accessible via ferry through: San Juan Islands from Anacortes, from Port Angeles on Olympic Peninsula, or from Vancouver on mainland B.C. (British Columbia).
Vancouver Island is most famous for its city of Victoria, a quaint and beautiful place. It is also home to attractions and landmarks such as Butchart Gardens, the surfing town of Tofino, and the wilderness up north. Northbound, you can take a ferry to Prince Rupert, and if you wanted to, you could take another ferry to Alaska. This island has a breadth of natural views and challenges and a host of options to other locations.Banff National Park
Banff National Park is located in Alberta and is Canada’s first national park. It is also the nation’s most visited and largest of national parks. If you are seeking a hike to remember, its views are breathtaking and wildlife is plentiful. Mammals include Bison, Grizzly Bears, Bighorn Sheep, Wolves, and Bald Eagles, among many other species.Niagara Falls
No trip to Canada is complete without a visit to Niagara Falls. This series of three waterfalls sitting on The border between Ontario and New York, makes for amazing views and attractions for a family visit. Ontario's side of The Falls is called "Horseshoe Falls" and features amazing views.
What makes Niagara so great is it not only has stunning scenes of The Falls, but observation towers, premier shopping, souvenirs, restaurants, casinos, high rise hotels, and on-the-water boat tours. Queen Victoria Park is the prime viewing point for Niagara, where The Falls are illuminated and fireworks are displayed every night during summertime.Montreal
For a great family vacation, try visiting Montreal. As the second largest city in Canada, Montreal is the financial and cultural capital of Quebec. If you want to use some of the French you learned in High School, Montreal has the largest French-speaking population outside of Paris. This metropolis has a downtown district, an entertainment district, a historic quarter, and great sights such as Olympic Tower and historic buildings in the Old Montreal area.
For families, you can let your kids have a good time at water and theme parks.Quebec City
If you really want to hit a city with historic roots and sights, head to Quebec City. This capital of The Quebec province uses its French heritage, language, and architecture to appear more like a European village. Vieux Quebec is the city’s historic district and overlooks St. Lawrence River. The cobblestone streets offer a charming walk to attractions such as Palace-Royale and The Citadel. This is where the first North American-French settlement was located.
The iconic Chateau Frontenac is one of the most photographed hotels in North America and is a stunning tourism spot.Whistler
Lastly, for skiers among you, Whistler mountain is the place to be. Whistler and Blackcomb mountains feature the Whistler Resort, which is the largest and beloved alpine ski destination in all of North America.
Whistler and Blackcomb is located in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia along a scenic drive route called the Sea-to-Sky Highway.
While you’re at Whistler skiing and enjoying the mountain life, you can visit three villages, Whistler Village, Upper Village, and Creekside. For transportation, take the "Peak 2 Peak" gondola to get from the villages to the mountains.