Discovery of Canada
Canada and the United States have many common geographical features, such as the Rocky Mountains, the five Great Lakes, plains and rivers. It is no wonder, that the history of Canada cannot be considered separately from the history of the United States. Both countries are independent now. Both, however, achieved their independence by completely different ways: Canada - by gradual constitutional changes which lasted for many years, and the USA - by the War for Independence.
The very first discovery of the New World (the territory of the present North American Continent) was made by Vikings. The proof of their sea travels to that land can be found in their songs, verses and prose which were transferred from older generations of Vikings to younger ones for many centuries. In 985 AD the sailors going from Island to Greenland were taken much farther westwards by the strong wind and they reached the territory of the Labrador Coast. Their stories about the forests on the new shore encouraged the other Vikings to sail there from Greenland for wood, because at home they felt the lack of that material for building houses and ships.
In 1000 AD Leif Erickson was the first European to get ashore on the territory of the North America. According to the legends of that time, that was the first journey the Vikings had made to the eastern shore of the continent. A settlement was founded on the place the Vikings had landed and it was called Vinland. Later, in 1963 the scientists discovered that the settlement of Vinland was situated in the northern part of New Land. The Vikings' settlements in Greenland died out in the 14th and 15th centuries, and, hence, their sea travels had stopped long before that time.
Re-Discovery and Exploration of Canada
In 1497 an Italian called John Cabot set off westwards of Bristol, England, to look for a new sea route to Asia for his master, the English king Henry XII. The result of the travel was his discovery of the eastern coast of Canada. Cabot, as well as Columbus, was sure he had landed on an Asian shore. During his second journey the next year, Cabot investigated the North American Coast, having landed in different parts from the Baffin Island to Maryland, but neither of those parts was marked on the map properly. Cabot's travels gave England the right to declare the eastern part of the North America of unexplored territory its property.
The most significant information Cabot got about the new land was that the coastal water of Canada had been incredibly rich with fish. Sea journeys were extremely profitable at that time, whether they were for spices and treasures to Asia or for fish to the North America. Almost every year since 1497 special ships had been fishing to the southeast from New Land and to the east from New Scotland. From time to time they went up the St. Lawrence River. Sometimes on the shore they met Indians who were eager to change their valuable furs to much less valuable items such as glass necklaces, beads and other non-valuable jewelry.
When it became quite obvious, that the newly discovered land was not Asia but another wild and unexplored continent, all the Europe was very disappointed. But gradually, this disappointment was changed by an interest to the North America and to Spanish and Portuguese explorers, coming back from the Caribbean Islands on the ships over-loaded with gold and silver. In 1524 the king of France Francisco I sent a Florentian sea traveler Giovanni da Verrazzano to investigate the possibilities of French involvement into the process of exploration the new land. Verrazzano explored the eastern coast of the North America from Northern Caroline to New Land and that gave France the right to declare the part of the new continent its state property.
Ten years later Francisco I decided to sent an expedition to explore the newly gained land. The leader of that expedition was Jack Cartier. During his sea journey in 1534 Cartier covered the route that had already been explored earlier. But that, however, was an official expedition, and the results of it were immediately reported to the king of France. The explorers told him about what and who they had seen on the new continent. Cartier visited many parts along the St. Lawrence River banks, gave them names and while being at Anticost Island he deduced that this place could have been a mouth of a long river.
The first known travel along the St. Lawrence River was made only the next year, when Cartier returned to the North America with a new expedition. Sailing along the river he reached an Indian village Stathcona not far from the place where Quebec is situated now. After covering 150 miles more up the river he reached the end of the water path, which was closed by a big island on the river. There he found another Indian village called Khochelaga. On its place a big Canadian city called Montreal is built now. From the hill behind the village he could see the thresholds closing the way to the unexplored part of the St. Lawrence River. Cartier and his companions had to spend a severe winter in Stathcona before they could set off back to France in spring. Many of them died because of cold and scurvies.
Failure of the First Attempt to Settle in Canada
In 1541 Cartier headed his third and, possibly, the last expedition to the St. Lawrence Strait. They made a stop at Cap - Rouge several miles up the river from Stathcona. That time Cartier had to be followed by Jean-Jack de la Rock de Roberville and a group of colonists. Having waited for them for the whole winter, Cartier set off home and met Roberville and his companions in St. John Harbour, New Land.
Cartier obeyed Roberville's order to accompany the colonists back to Quebec, though Roberville had a higher rank, and secretly set off to France at night. Roberville's expedition sailed up the river and made a tragic attempt to found a settlement on the place Cartier had spent the winter during his second expedition. By the next year about 60 colonists had been dead. Roberville decided to give up his plan of settling there and France stopped its attempts to explore the new continent for almost 60 years.
100-th Anniversary of Confederation
In 1967 a hundredth anniversary of the Act on the British North America was celebrated. It came into force in 1867 and made the foundations of the present state of Canada. In 1982 this act was substituted by a new Canadian Constitution. Queen Elizabeth II visited the Parliament Hill where she announced the document in public. That event finished the process of transmitting the constitutional power from Great Britain to Canada.
Separation of Quebec
At the beginning of 1960s Quebec was the center of propaganda of the separation of the province from Canada and forming a new French-speaking country. In 1969 both French and English were declared official languages of the country. In 1970 terrorists, who could have supported the idea of Quebec's separation, kidnapped and killed Pier Laport, the Minister of Labour and Immigration of Canada. The Federal Government sent the military troops to Quebec and an extreme situation was established there. In 1974 the French language became an official language of the province.
The Amendment to the Constitution made in 1987 declared Quebec to be "a separate society" and gave all the provinces the new rights. The House of Commons adopted the Amendment on June, 22, 1988, but on June, 23, 1990 it had to be cancelled because it had not been approved by New Land and Manitoba. A new set of constitutional changes was issued in 1992 by the Parliament Committee. This changes contained articles about decentralization of the federal power, electing the Senate and a specific attitude towards Quebec as a separate society. At the All - Canadian Referendum in October 1992 Canadians voted against all those constitutional changes. But the Quebec Referendum in 1995 again proved that the majority of the province population prefer Quebec to be a part of Canada.