In 1867, the Canadian Confederation resulted in Canada becoming a country. The Canadian Confederation is what we celebrate every year on July 1st.

But what was Canada before, if it wasn’t a country? There were people who lived in the territory, weren’t there?

Let’s do a little recap.
You have already learned:
– That the first inhabitants of the land were Indigenous Peoples, First Nations, and Inuit.
– That the French came to North America in the 16th century and founded the colony New France.
– That in 1763 there was a war between France and England. When this war (also known as the Conquest of New France) ended, France surrendered its colonies to England.
– Finally, that the Thirteen American colonies separated from Great Britain to form the United States of America in 1776.

Phew! But where is Canada in all this?

Well all the territory in North America that still belonged to Great Britain after the American Revolution, was called British North America. This territory was composed of different colonies, including the province of Canada (which got its name after Upper and Lower Canada joined in 1840).

These small colonies faced many problems. In order to solve them, they decided to join together to form one country, Canada. The colonies thought that they would be able to protect themselves better if they were united. They also thought that the economy would be better and that political problems would be less difficult.

On July 1, 1867, the British North America Act came into effect. This was the birth of Canada. But the Canada of 1867 was different from today: it was made up of only four provinces: Quebec and Ontario (which were known then as the Province of Canada) as well as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In the next few years, three more provinces and a territory joined the North America Act: Manitoba (1870), British Columbia (1871), Prince Edward Island (1873), and the Northwest Territories (1869).

Canada found a compromise to unite the provinces while allowing them to retain some autonomy. The compromise was federalism. Federalism is a system with two levels of government: a federal government to deal with issues that affect all provinces and provincial governments to deal with local issues that only concern one province. Canada still operates this way today. The federal government sits in Ottawa and Quebec’s provincial government sits in Quebec City.

Author:
National Service of the Social Universe. RECITUS. Translated by LEARN.

French if available (si disponible)