Whilst I am visiting the Great White North (which is surprisingly green right now. LET DOWN), The GBOAT will feature Canadian themed posts. Hopefully raising a new level of cultural awareness will be great or something.
Canada was founded just like any other country: by a group of people going to a place that isn’t theirs and trying to take it. What makes the Canadian story unique, however, is the massive amount of time it took for Canada to finally get around to being a full fledged nation. Another primary defining characteristic was that France was SUPER interested in the region, which is never a good sign.
In the early 1600s, colonization was all the rage. During this time, the English were busy making colonies all down the eastern seaboard of what would become the United States. England, of course, was quite used to colonization, as they had taken it upon themselves to go all over the world, planting colonies in the name of mistreating everyone there. After all, this is the same nation who decided to turn the entire continent of Australia into a jail.
Meanwhile, the French had decided that whatever land the English had NOT claimed, they were going to try to. Therefore, they made colonies in the area north of the English colonies, then also to the southwest of the Great Lakes, and even on the coast of what is now Louisiana and Mississippi because why not? Never in history has the founding of multiple small and isolated colonies ever come back to haunt anyone, so surely the French would be fine.
However, the colonies in Canada (then known as New France due to probably a writer’s strike or something) took a major hit around the 1680s, when settlers stopped coming to the largest French settlements. Historians aren’t sure exactly why they stopped and British settlements kept growing, but it was likely due to the fact that the British colonies had plenty of fertile farmland and the French settlements had snow and a lot of fish from the Hudson Bay.
In the 1700s, tensions rose between the French and British in the New World, just as the relationship between the actual nations of France and Britain had been rough since forever. The French didn’t like that the British were encroaching on the Hudson Bay, and the British didn’t like not owning everything ever. Thus, a series of wars known as The French and Indian War broke out between 1689 to 1763.
Seeing as how the British outnumbered the French 10:1 and the French were PRETTY French, the 13 British colonies eventually made France give up nearly all of their colonies in the Americas. Of course, by this time, the 13 Colonies were getting a LITTLE tired of British rule without having a say in how they should be governed, so they decided to rebel shortly after the French and Indian Wars ceased. Apparently they didn’t bother warning the new Canadian territories that British rule sucked, because Canada stayed away from revolting.
While some residents of what is now Quebec and Nova Scotia felt for the Americans, the two provinces stuck with the British. Revolutionaries attempted to free Canada during the Battle of Quebec in the American Revolution, but were pushed back by British troops. This caused them to say, “Welp, we tried” and then never try again to get into Canada.
That’s not actually entirely true. During the War of 1812, when British and American forces said, “Sure, let’s try this again”, the Americans attempted to take Canadian territory instead of liberating it. They were repelled again, and then British troops sailed south and burned the White House, a historical moment that Canadians kind of needlessly take pride in despite not actually being a country yet.
After that, Canadians put up a massive “DO NOT DISTURB” sign and moved westward, claiming by 1986 all of the territory they now hold. At this point in time, since Canada was so large and Britain had begun completely forgetting that it was supposed to be an empire, the Canadians approached Britain about becoming self-governing. What this would entail is that Canada would rule themselves freely, but still technically be a British colony. So Britain would get the bragging rights of owning Canada SOLELY in paperwork, and Canada would be a country without having to fight a war, and would occasionally get visited by the Queen.
Finally, on July 1st, 1867, Canada became the Dominion of Canada: a self-governing nation/colony/dominion/thing that would get visited by the Queen.
Over the next hundred years, Canada grew quite successfully as a nation, somehow staying out of any major spotlights, conflicts, and kept everyone off their case by giving the world the best comedians. They kept close economic and trade ties to America, and kept close “putting on a good face and slapping monarchs on our money” with Britain. They steadily grew more and more independent of actual British rule, with a clear governing Prime Minister and Parliament. However, through all of this, the “ruling party” in name was still the British monarchy, and eventually, Canada decided this didn’t need to keep going.
Thus, in 1982, Canada approached Britain about the fact that was still only a gradual separation between the countries. This entire liberation process likely took so long because Britain had TOTALLY forgotten that it was once an empire and actually had colonies, and Canada was too polite to ask about it.
The Crown said, “Yeah, okay, I guess we should go ahead and finalize all of that, but here’s the deal: you will keep needlessly putting pictures of the Queen everywhere and act like The Crown actually matters to your country.” Canada was all like “Cool, so does that mean we get to take some British holidays off in order to honour the Queen ‘n stuff?” and Britain was like, “Sure yeah, but you have to refer to vacation as holiday, like we do,” and Canada said, “Cool”.
Thus, the Canada Act of 1982, which actually fully legalized the Constitution of Canada in Canada. Previously, it had only been an act of British Parliament, and was even located in Britain. With this final act, Canada, which had been a country for over a century, was officially and fully independent of British rule.
Canada didn’t go about becoming a country the same way as so many other places, but that’s what makes Canada so unique. Sure, it may have been a very gradual process, but it still happened. Thanks to that process, the rest of the world gets awesome maple syrup, good beer, and Colin Mochrie.
So thank you, Canada. And happy 30th birthday!