Images of Ontario now on Flickr

Ontario is the most populous and second largest province of Canada. It is bordered by Manitoba to the west and Quebec to the east. The landscape is extremely varied, with three distinct regions defining the province: the Hudson’s Bay Lowlands, the Canadian Shield, and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Lowlands. Ontario was populated by First Peoples approximately 10,000 years ago and today’s indigenous communities, such as the Algonquin, Huron and Iroquois, can trace their origins to that time. European explorers arrived in the 17th century and initially conducted basic trade and exploration. After the American Revolution the population increased as an influx of British Loyalists moved northwards. After the War of 1812 another wave of immigration came from Europe.

Black and white photograph of nine women wearing dresses, coats and hats standing in front of a residential building.

Group of African-Canadian women in front of the YWCA boarding house at 698 Ontario Street, Toronto, Ontario (MIKAN 3191591)

Upper Canada was established in 1791 and included what is now known as southern Ontario. In 1837, the Upper Canada Rebellion took place against the British government-appointed administrators and in favour of responsible government. The rebellion was quickly put down, but in 1841 the new Province of Canada was formed. The colony formerly known as Upper Canada became Canada West, while the colony formerly known as Lower Canada became Canada East. In 1848, Canada West was awarded self-government. This power-shift was influenced largely by the continuing population growth of the province, mainly of English-speaking settlers. By the 1850s, Canada West was enjoying considerable economic strength due to the continued influx of immigrants who moved, along with many locally born citizens, to urban centres where industrial jobs were available. During the 1860s, Canada West participated in a series of conferences, along with Canada East, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, to work out the terms of confederation. This led to the establishment of the Dominion of Canada in 1867.

Did you know?

  • Ontario has over 200 reported ethnic languages, and 26% of the population identifies as a visible minority.
  • In 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the permanent location of the nation’s capital.
  • Oliver Mowat, Premier of Ontario from 1872 to 1896, fought for provincial rights and greatly decentralized the power of the federal government over provincial affairs.

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Images of Nunavut now on Flickr

Nunavut is the easternmost and newest of Canada’s three territories, sharing a border with the Northwest Territories to the west and Manitoba to the south. It is the largest of all the provinces and territories of Canada and includes most of the Arctic Archipelago. The region has been home to a continuous population of First Peoples for roughly 4,000 years. The Inuit are the dominant group in Nunavut, forming the majority of the population in all communities. Europeans first began exploring the area in the late 16th century while searching for the Northwest Passage.

Black and white photograph of three men sitting outside in a row wearing parkas and smiling.

Three Inuit men (L to R: Lucas, Bobbie and Johnnie) posing for a photograph outside, Port Burwell, Nunavut (MIKAN 3223586)

Throughout the Cold War, the Canadian government forced many Inuit from northern Quebec to relocate to the northern reaches of what was then the Northwest Territories, in an effort to assert its sovereignty over the Arctic Archipelago. The Canadian government compensated their descendants for the hardship several decades later in response to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. In the late 1970s, inhabitants of what is now Nunavut began discussions with the federal government about the creation of a separate territory. This came to fruition in 1999 when Nunavut became the third Canadian territory, giving the Inuit greater autonomy.

Did you know?

  • The name Nunavut is from the Inuktitut dialect of Eastern Arctic Inuit and translates into “Our Land.”
  • Nunavut recognizes four official languages: English, French, Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun.

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Images of Nova Scotia now on Flickr

Nova Scotia is one of three Maritime provinces in Canada, with New Brunswick to the northwest and Prince Edward Island to the north across the Northumberland Strait. The Mi’kmaq are the dominant First Nations group in the area, with ancestral roots tracing back 10,000 years.

Interactions between First Nations groups and French settlers early during the fur trade were positive overall, and Nova Scotia in time became part of the area called Acadia. Yet, over the course of the 18th century, Britain gained control of all of France’s possessions in North America and renamed these colonies. After the American Civil War, the migration of Loyalists northward drove up the British colonial population, as settlers with grants claimed the land and pushed the Mi’kmaq to the margins of their territory.

Black and white photo of two women and a man standing on the edge of a dirt road near the coast looking at the ocean

Tourists with Mike Sullivan’s Bus take in the view at Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia (MIKAN 3265746)

Nova Scotia was awarded responsible government in 1848, ahead of the other British colonies, and took part in the road to Confederation. It became one of the first Canadian provinces in 1867 under pro-Confederation leader Charles Tupper. However, many Nova Scotians were largely against it, voting for an anti-Confederation government in the following provincial election.

Did you know?

  • Nova Scotia is Latin for “New Scotland,” named for its first Scottish settlers during the British colonial period.
  • Nova Scotia was home to the largest free Black settlement in North America, inhabited by Black Loyalists who migrated north after the American Revolution.

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Images for the Northwest Territories now on Flickr

The Northwest Territories is one of three territories in northern Canada, bordered by Yukon to the west, Nunavut to the east, and Alberta, Saskatchewan and a portion of British Columbia to the south. The northern section of the territory makes up part of the Arctic Archipelago, which is usually covered in ice. Many Inuit and First Nations people lived in the area when explorers and European settlers arrived beginning in the late 16th century. European trade developed in the 18th century, dominated by the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company.

A black-and-white photo of six men. Three men are mounted on horses, and three are unmounted standing next to two horses.

Buffalo patrol near cabin south of Fort Smith, Northwest Territories (MIKAN 3362561)

The Northwest Territories entered into confederation in 1870 after Canada purchased the land from the Hudson’s Bay Company. However, Britain did not transfer the Arctic Archipelago to Canada until 1880. The boundaries of the Northwest Territories fluctuated over the next century as different provinces and territories were created or grew in size; it finally settled to its current boundaries in 1999, when Nunavut was formed from the Northwest Territories.

Did you know?

  • The name “Northwest Territories” originates from the colonial period, when the British used the term to describe all the land to the northwest of Rupert’s Land.
  • The Northwest Territories has eleven official languages, including English, French, Cree, Chipewyan, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey, and Tłįchǫ.

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New additions to Newfoundland and Labrador album now on Flickr

A black-and-white photograph of four men in kayaks with a rocky outcropping in the background.

Four men kayaking, Turnavik, Labrador (MIKAN 3377220)

Land was sighted in June 1497 after just over a month of travel, and John Cabot is credited with the second discovery of North America, and Newfoundland which celebrates the event as Discovery Day.

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Images of New Brunswick now on Flickr 

New Brunswick is one of Canada’s three Maritime provinces, sharing  its border with Quebec to the north, Nova Scotia to the southeast, the United States to the west, and Prince Edward Island, which lies off its east coast. First Nations in New Brunswick (the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy) are the descendants of First Peoples that inhabited the area around 9,000 years ago. When the French arrived in the region in 1604, the Mi’kmaq welcomed them and taught them how to survive off the land. However, the French eventually claimed the Maritimes as a colony, naming it Acadia.

A black-and-white photograph of three women ad two children standing in a potato field.

Three First Nations women, a young girl and infant standing in a potato field, Woodstock, New Brunswick (MIKAN 3425858)

Over the course of the 18th century, the French gradually lost the territory to the British. The Acadians, descendants of French settlers, refused to pledge allegiance to the British, preferring to remain neutral. As a result, thousands were subjected to deportation in 1755 and 1758. Throughout the 19th century, New Brunswick would experience a significant population growth as a result of migration from the British Isles, Loyalists from the United States, and the return of some Acadians. New Brunswick would eventually become one of the four original provinces of Canadian Confederation in 1867, with Fredericton as its capital.

Did you know?

  • New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in Canada. The majority of the population is English-speaking, but there is a large Francophone community (33%).
  • Forestry traditionally dominated the New Brunswick economy as forests cover about 83% of the province. This industry was connected to shipbuilding and to the pulp and paper industry.

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Images for Manitoba now on Flickr

Manitoba is the easternmost prairie province, situated roughly in the centre of Canada and bordered by Saskatchewan to the west and Ontario to the east. First Nations peoples have inhabited this region for over 10,000 years.

The Hudson’s Bay Company controlled the region from 1670 to 1869, when the land was sold to Canada with no consideration for its inhabitants. The sale of the land, the exclusion of its residents in the creation of a local government, and the start of infrastructure projects without consultation with the local inhabitants resulted in the Red River Resistances of 1869-70 and 1885, led by Métis leader Louis Riel and the supporters of the Métis Nation.

In response to the first Resistance, the Manitoba Act of 1870 created the province of Manitoba, which promised land grants to the Métis Nation. However, these promises were broken and the Métis were forced westward by increasing white settlement.

During this challenging period, the newly formed province covered little more than the Red River Valley area. However, increasing migration and settlement of the area by people moving westwards spurred the growth of settlements across the region and enhanced the importance of Manitoba within Confederation.

A black-and-white photo of a pregnant woman, two children and a man harvesting potatoes.

Harvesting potato crop, Manitoba (MIKAN 3367935)

Did you know?

  • Manitoba is considered to be the Métis Nation Homeland as the fur trade resulted in significant mixing in this area between First Nations peoples and Europeans.
  • Winnipeg experienced booming growth at the turn of the 20th century, but it was short lived and was followed by decades of depression, drought, labour unrest and two world wars.
  • In January 1916, Manitoba became the first province to grant women the right to vote and hold provincial office. However, First Nations and Asian Canadian women were excluded from these rights.

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Beyond Vimy: The Rise of Air Power, Part 1

A banner that changes from a black-and-white photograph of a battle scene on the left to a colour photograph of the Vimy Memorial on the right.Library and Archives Canada is releasing its latest podcast episode, “Beyond Vimy: The Rise of Air Power, Part 1”.

April 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the attack and capture of Vimy Ridge, when all four divisions of the Canadian Corps worked together for the first time. During the First World War, over 25,000 Canadians served with the British Flying Service as pilots, observers and mechanics, and even though the Battle of Vimy Ridge is better known as a ground offensive, many of the preparations for the assault on Vimy took place in the air. In Part 1 of this episode, we sit down with Bill Rawling, historian and author of the book Surviving Trench Warfare, and Hugh Halliday, author and retired curator at the Canadian War Museum, to discuss the role Canada and her allies played in the air over Vimy Ridge and Arras in April 1917, a month known as “Bloody April.”
A black-and-white photograph of a biplane with two aviators in the cockpits: one is piloting and the other is at the machine gun.

A Curtiss JN-4 gun installation, pilot’s gunnery, Royal Flying Corps, Canada, School of Aerial Gunnery at Camp Borden, Ontario, 1917 (MIKAN 3404272)

To view images associated with this podcast, here’s a direct link to our Flickr album.

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Images for British Columbia now on Flickr

British Columbia is Canada’s westernmost province—a mountainous area bordering the Pacific Ocean whose population is mainly centred in its southwestern corner. The province’s name was chosen in 1858 and New Westminster, a settlement on the mainland, became the capital. When the mainland and island colonies joined in 1866, the island city of Victoria was designated the capital instead. British Columbia joined the Canadian Confederation in 1871, making it the 6th province.

Did you know?

  • British Columbia’s majestic landscapes and interesting geological features are the result of a thick sheet of ice that covered the province during the ice age.
  • Paleoamericans arrived in the Pacific Northwest 12,000–20,000 years ago and the region has since seen the development of Aboriginal communities on the provincial coast, and in the richly diverse interior.
  • The introduction of the fur trade in the early 19th century and the discovery of gold along the Lower Fraser River in 1858 saw an increase in settlers and the establishment of permanent towns. The 20th century brought industrialization and the intense exploitation of natural resources. Consequently, environmental and natural resource preservation would become a priority for the province in the post-war period.
  • British Columbia is one of the most ethnically diverse provinces in the country, with the highest percentage of visible minorities, most notably from Asian and South-Asian descent.

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Images for Alberta now on Flickr

Alberta is the most westerly of Canada’s three Prairie provinces, sharing borders with British Columbia to the west and Saskatchewan to the east. Paleoamericans first settled in the area at least 10,000 years ago, differentiating over time to become First Nations groups. The Hudson’s Bay Company controlled the area from 1670 to 1870, when the territory was acquired by the newly formed Canadian government. In 1905, Alberta joined Canadian Confederation as the country’s ninth province.

A black-and-white photograph showing a woman and child walking down a wooden platform along a train.

People walking along platform at train station in Ponoka, Alberta (MIKAN 3303597)

Western Canada experienced major growth during the 20th century. Settlers travelled from other provinces and from Europe to farm the land of the Prairies and to populate its cities. Alberta welcomed settlers of many different backgrounds, and became the third most diverse province in the country. The population boom helped spur the economy, but the Great Depression and Dust Bowl slowed its progress… at least, until the discovery of oil in 1947.

Did you know?

  • About 100 million years ago, not only was Alberta part of the Western Interior Seaway, it was also home to dinosaurs! Specimens from at least 38 different types of dinosaurs have been discovered in the province.
  • A long-time rivalry has existed between Alberta’s two major cities, Edmonton (the capital) and Calgary (the larger of the two). There have been many areas of contention, but by far the most important these days is… you guessed it—sports!

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