About Canada - History of Canada

"A Land of Incredible Variety"

CANADA is a land of incredible variety and the choices can be overwhelming. We hope that the fallowing portrait of Canada will provide you with a better understanding of what our country has to offer and how it can be used in a tour program.

Let's Start With Some History...

Canada is geologically ancient yet young in human history. This vital mix of old and new has been a constant theme throughout Canada's 10,000-year development. It is uncertain when exactly North America was first inhabited by human beings, but archaeological researchers have found artifacts dating back 40,000 years. It was not until some 15,000 years ago that man first migrated from Asia. People settled throughout the land, and this aboriginal population of over 50 tribes, consisted of a quarter of a million people at its peak. They lived in harmony with nature, until the arrival of the white man transformed the native way of life forever.

Even though Vikings settled on the shores of Newfoundland around the year AD 1000, John Cabot, an Italian navigator in the service of England, found rich fishing grounds off Canada's southeast coast, which lead to the European exploration of Canada. France took the lead in exploring the country and set up a colony in Eastern Canada in the early 1600's.

The main threat to the French settlement was the English troops that attacked the newly founded colony from the south. The battles went on for many years. Weakened by the lack of support from France, which at the time was too involved in European battles, the settlers finally had to surrender to the English.

In 1791 Canada was divided into Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec). In 1867, the French and English speaking Canadians created a united colony called ''The Dominion of Canada", which finally assigned the country to a federal state system under English authority. Widespread European settlement took place following the laying of the national railway's last tie in 1885, providing a physical link between the provinces and the territories.

Canada gained independence from Britain in 1931.

The Second Largest Country In The World

Covering almost ten million square kilometers, Canada is a land of open spaces and great variety. Each region has its own special character and unique geography. This combination of varied landscapes makes Canada one of the most interesting countries in the world to visit.

It is difficult to imagine the size of this country, which easily accommodates Great Britain 40 times. Canada has a population of 29 million people (1993) of which 80% live along the border to the United States.

Canada has over two million lakes and the longest shoreline bordering on only one country. It covers almost 7% of the world's surface. About 89% of the land has never been settled permanently, 2% of the country is covered by glaciers while 44% is covered by forests. Canada has 6 time zones and is surrounded by 3 oceans (Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic). The country stretches 4,600 km from north to south and 5,500 km from east to west. The most southern point (Middle Island in Lake Erie) is on the same latitude as the French Riviera and Rome. The most northern point (Cape Columbia on Ellesmere Island) is only 768 km from the North Pole.

People in Newfoundland live closer to Africans in Gambia than to Canadians in British Columbia. Ellesmere Island has Glaciers that are bigger than Ireland and Baffin Island is twice as big as New Zealand.

The Atlantic provinces are collectively known as THE MARITIMES. Geologically, Newfoundland is the oldest province. Nova Scotia is studded with white summer-houses, excellent inns and seafood restaurants. New Brunswick is well known for its great tides in the Bay of Fundy and the Fiddlehead (fern), a great Canadian delicacy. Prince Edward Island is a miniature paradise with its deep blue waters, golden beaches and red sandstone cliffs.

CENTRAL CANADA encompasses two provinces - Quebec and Ontario, which are home to two thirds of Canada's population. Remarkable characteristics of the area are the Great Lakes, the largest fresh water resource in the world, as well as the world famous Niagara Falls. Quebec differs greatly from the rest of Canada with its French "Joie de vivre" and culture.

The scenery changes as you continue west across the country into the PRAIRIES, the land where the proverbial buffalo roamed. This region stretches through Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberto with farmland as for as the eye can see. The Prairies are vast and covered with thousands of lakes.

The vast mountain range of the ROCKY MOUNTAINS rises above the province of Alberta. Settled initially by ranching families, Alberto is still cattle country. Alberto's foothills boost with great natural beauty and grandeur and to the south-west runs the stunning Banff-Jasper Highway renowned for Lake Louise and the massive Columbia Ice Field.

Crossing the continental divide into British Columbia and continuing west, we arrive at the PACIFIC COAST where the Coastal Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean. Rainforests with lush vegetation and a vast patchwork of mountains, lakes, forests and orchards characterize this port of the country.

To the north stretch the NORTH WEST TERRITORIES, which occupy more than one-third of Canada, much of it in the Arctic. It is the land of the magnificent aurora borealis, of the midnight sun and of 24-hour summer days. To the west is the YUKON TERRITORY, a huge region of big mountains and deep volleys stretching from the British Columbia forests to the Arctic coast of the Beaufort Sea. Kluane National Park is home to Mount Logon, Canada's highest mountain at 5951 meters.