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Ever wondered how Canada became a country?


We didn’t claim independence like the United States, but did you know that Canada used to be a British settlement? Canada is a mixture of Aboriginal, French and English cultures that came together to form one big country from sea to shining sea. Let’s see what interesting facts Mr. Orlando can tell us about how Canada became a country!

Canada became a country through a process called Confederation in 1867.

Proclamation of Canadian Confederation made several months before the signing of the documents.

In the early 1800s, several colonies covered the land that would one day be Canada. However, they realized that they could be much stronger if they worked together as one nation, instead of several tiny ones. Our beautiful country came together after several heated debates and conferences that made up a process called confederation. The terms of confederation were agreed upon and signed on July 1st, 1867. That’s why we celebrate Canada Day on July 1st. First Nations and Inuit people had already lived on the land that would become Canada for thousands of years, but they were not consulted or included in the discussions about confederation, which wasn't fair at all.

Before Canada was a country, each province was its own independent government.

Map of Canada at Confederation. Wikimedia/Golbez/CC BY-SA 3.0

Before 1867, Canada was made up of several independent British colonies that are now provinces: British Columbia, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island. Back then, Ontario and Quebec were just one colony called the Province of Canada. Confederation involved the huge task of uniting all these governments into one.

Newfoundland became Canada's 10th province on March 31, 1949.

Mr. Joseph Smallwood signing the agreement that admitted Newfoundland into Confederation.

While almost all of the other provinces became part of Canada when the idea was first proposed, Newfoundland held out. The maritime province was doing quite alright on its own and didn’t need the protection or cost of joining Canada. However, Newfoundland finally joined Canada in 1949 after many years of persuasion. In 2001, the province's name was officially changed to include Labrador.

Canada gained full control over its constitution in 1982.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Wikimedia/Marc Lostracci/CC BY 2.0

In 1982, Canada patriated its constitution. This means that before 1982, the British Government could in theory still change Canada’s laws if they wanted to. However that all changed when Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and England’s Queen Elizabeth changed the British North America Act into the Canadian Constitution Act. This meant that only Canada had the authority to change its own laws. The constitution was also updated with our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which give Canadians their civil rights under federal law.

Nunavut became Canada's newest territory in 1999 with Iqaluit as its capital.

The flag of Nunavut.

Nunavut, or "Our Land" in the Inuktitut dialect of the Inuit, is a territory that was established in 1999, subdivided from the Northwest Territories. In an act of reconciliation, this land was restored to the Inuit people who lived there long before the British and French arrived. Over three quarters of the population is Inuit and the four official languages of the territory are: Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English and French.