Map of British America, 1891, Van Antwerp, Bragg & Co.
British America published by Van Antwerp, Bragg, and Company in The Eclectic Elementary Geography, 1891.
Canada is the world's second largest country. It is located in North America between latitudes forty-one and eighty-four degrees and longitudes fifty-two degrees west and one hundred forty-one degrees west. Due to its vast size and northern position, Canada has a low population density, with some areas of the country being almost completely uninhabited. The climate ranges from temperate in the southern coastal regions to tundra in the arctic north. Canada's coasts border the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. The interior landscape contains many lakes and rivers that drain into one of the oceans or Hudson Bay. There are eight forest regions in Canada containing a variety of flora and fauna. Canada is also home to several active volcanic zones.
The country is comprised of ten provinces and three territories. Each province receives its powers and authority directly from the Constitution. They are co-sovereign and have their own crown represented by a lieutenant-governor. Territories are part of the federal realm and have only those powers granted to them by the federal government. While Canada is a dominion of the United Kingdom it is an independent nation. The move toward independence occurred gradually throughout its history. The Constitution Act of 1867 was the first step, with the Confederation of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec. In 1870 Manitoba became the fifth province and the Northwest Territories were created. British Columbia joined the following year and Prince Edward Island followed in 1873. The Yukon territory was formed in 1898 from a portion of the Northwest Territories. It borders Alaska and British Columbia. Saskatchewan and Alberta joined the confederation as provinces in 1905 having formerly been part of the Northwest Territories. Newfoundland and Labrador became the tenth province in 1949. Nunavut is the newest territory and it encompasses most of the northern islands and a portion of the northern central mainland. It was officially separated from the Northwest Territories in 1999.
The first people entered North America during the last ice age. They passed along the Bering land bridge from Siberia into what is now Alaska. As the glaciers began to recede, people started migrating east and south into Canada and beyond. By the fifteenth century there was an indigenous population estimated to have been between two hundred thousand and one million people. The first known attempt at European colonization was around 1000 A.D. when the Norse had a short lived settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows. Europeans wouldn't travel across the Atlantic to Canada again until after Columbian discovery of the New World. In 1497 John Cabot explored the coast for England and Jacques Cartier investigated the St. Lawrence River for France in 1534. Samuel de Champlain established the first permanent settlements at Port Royal in 1605 and Quebec City in 1608. England settled a number of colonies on Newfoundland and a series of wars between the two colonial powers and several native groups broke out between 1689 and 1763. At the end of the Seven Years War in 1763, New France was ceded to England and the Province of Quebec was created. The Province was divided into Upper and Lower Canada in 1783 to accommodate English loyalists after the American War of Independence. In 1840 they were rejoined as the Province of Canada only to be separated again in 1867 to form the Provinces of Ontario (Upper Canada) and Quebec (Lower Canada).
- Naomi Bean