Even though we can’t pronounce sesquicentennial we are going to celebrate our 150th birthday. Here is a quick look at where we have been.
Leading the Country – liquor, ghosts and smoke
- Canada’s first Prime Minister was Sir John A. MacDonald, renowned for negotiating confederation, a rail line across Canada – all the while as Canada’s most famous drunk.
- William Lyon Mackenzie King was Canada’s wartime Prime Minister; he led the country out of the Great Depression and during the Second World War. He was a bachelor with a weird habit of consulting spiritualists and mediums about how best to run the country.
- Today’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau hasn’t yet made his mark. He tried and failed to bring in a different voting system, piled up way more public debt than expected and hopes to legalize marijuana. He is probably the first Prime Minister to admit to smoking a joint.
We are Big and Cold
- Canada’s population at Confederation was about 3.5 million people. Today we are 35 million. 75 years ago in 1942, the population was about 11.5 million and in 1967 it was 20 million.
- Canada is the second largest country by land mass – almost 10 million square kilometres. Our population density (3.3 people per sq. km,) second lowest in the world – just behind Botswana.
- But we rule at coastlines – 243,977 kilometres – more than anyone else.
- We are tied with Russia as the coldest country, which explains why we perfected the toque.
All of Us Came from Away
- Modern humans started migrating out of Africa about 100,000 years ago.
- Humans didn’t get around to living in the Americas until around 13,000 to 14,000 years ago. Still – that was before the invention of the wheel.
- Over time people populated Canada and developed 6 linguistic – cultural areas. Arctic, Sub-arctic, Northwest Coast, Plateau, Plains, and Eastern Woodlands.
- Academics still have bun fights guessing the number of Aboriginals in North America at the time the Europeans started moving in. Some say 12 million but others think maybe only 1-2 million. The impact of epidemics brought by Europeans is also a huge unknown.
- In Canada, French immigration began in 1604 for about 150 years. British immigration followed for almost another 150 years.
- Multicultural Immigration really got rolling around 1900 for 20 years when aggressive immigration programs brought 3 million people to Canada. About half came to the settle on the prairies.
- Asians and Indians arrived in BC to work the railroads and fishery.The Great Depression and the World War Two put a crimp in immigration but it boomed again after the war and into the prosperous 1960s and ‘70s.
- A liberal immigration policy in the 1980’s brought a million immigrants – and in the 1990s 2 million
- Canada is a haven for migrants seeking refuge from world events- Draft dodgers from the USA, boat people from Vietnam, Hong Kong residents fleeing Communist Chinese rule and unrest in Africa and the Middle East.
- Fat and Mostly Happy
- Canada’s economic development can be divided into 5 (mostly positive) eras:
- Confederation to 1900 – the former colonies began creating a transcontinental economy
- 1900 to 1930 – the economy became industrialized, and grew a prairie grain economy.
- 1930 to 1950 – was mostly unstable as result of the Great Depression and World War II.
- 1950 to 1975 – saw sustained year over year positive economic growth.
- 1975 – to today the economy experiences spurts and recessions driven by our resources in the global market and our trade relationship with the USA.
We are Canadian!
- We are most fortunate that our ancestors showed up. Whether by land bridge over the Bering Sea or by plane from Syria last month.
- Most of us have a pretty diverse pedigree. My children can boast some ancestors who were aboriginal, a Hudson Bay explorer, Irish peasants, United Empire Loyalists, English brew-masters and Mennonite farmers fleeing Russian communists.
- Canada is always in the running on any list of best place to live in the world.
Let’s celebrate our 150th birthday – because right after that we have to get back to working hard on the next 150!