Our History

Aboriginal peoples

Aboriginal peoplesWhen Europeans explored Canada they found all regions occupied by native peoples they called Indians, because the first explorers thought they had reached the East Indies. The native people lived off the land, some by hunting and gathering, others by raising crops. The Huron-Wendat of the Great Lakes region, like the Cree and Dene of the Northwest, were hunter-gatherers. The Iroquois were hunters and farmers. The Sioux were nomadic, following the bison (buffalo) herd. The Inuit lived off Arctic wildlife. West Coast natives preserved fish by drying and smoking. Warfare was common among Aboriginal groups as they competed for land, resources, and prestige.

The arrival of European traders, missionaries, soldiers, and colonists changed the native way of life forever. Large numbers of Aboriginals died of European diseases to which they lacked immunity. However, Aboriginals and Europeans formed strong economic and military bonds in the first 200 years of coexistence which laid the foundations of Canada.

Exploring a river, naming Canada

Between 1534 and 1542, Jacques Cartier made three voyages across the Atlantic, claiming the land for King Francis I of France. Cartier heard two captured guides speak the Iroquoian word kanata, meaning “village.” By the 1550s, the name of Canada began appearing on maps.

Royal New France

Royal New FranceIn 1604, the first European settlement north of Florida was established by French explorers Pierre de Monts and Samuel de Champlain, first on St. Croix Island (in present-day Maine), then at Port-Royal, in Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia). In 1608 Champlain built a fortress at what is now Quebec City. The colonists struggled against a harsh climate. Champlain allied the colony with the Algonquin, Montagnais, and Huron, historic enemies of the Iroquois, a confederation of five (later six) First Nations who battled with the French settlements for a century.

The French and the Iroquois made peace in 1701. The French and Aboriginal people collaborated in the vast fur-trade economy, driven by the demand for beaver pelts in Europe. Outstanding leaders like Jean Talon, Bishop Laval, and Count Frontenac built a French Empire in North America that reached from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.

Struggle for a continent

In 1670, King Charles II of England granted the Hudson’s Bay Company exclusive trading rights over the watershed draining into Hudson Bay. For the next 100 years the Company competed with Montreal-based traders. The skilled and courageous men who travelled by canoe were called voyageurs and coureurs des bois, and formed strong alliances with First Nations.

English colonies along the Atlantic seaboard, dating from the early 1600s, eventually became richer and more populous than New France. In the 1700s France and Great Britain battled for control of North America. In 1759, the British defeated the French in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham at Quebec City — marking the end of France’s empire in America. The commanders of both armies, Brigadier James Wolfe and the Marquis de Montcalm, were killed leading their troops in battle.

The province of Quebec

The province of QuebecFollowing the war, Great Britain renamed the colony the “Province of Quebec.” The French-speaking Catholic people, known as habitants or Canadiens, strove to preserve their way of life in the English-speaking, Protestant-ruled British Empire.

A tradition of accommodation
To better govern the French Roman Catholic majority, the British Parliament passed the Quebec Act of 1774. One of the constitutional foundations of Canada, the Quebec Act accommodated the principles of British institutions to the reality of the province. It allowed religious freedom for Catholics and permitted them to hold public office, a practice not then allowed in Britain. It established English criminal law and French civil law.

United empire loyalists

In 1776, the thirteen British colonies to the south of Quebec declared independence and formed the United States. North America was again divided by war. More than 40,000 people loyal to the Crown, called “Loyalists,” fled the oppression of the American Revolution to settle in Nova Scotia and Quebec. Joseph Brant led thousands of Loyalist Mohawk Indians into Canada. The Loyalists came from Dutch, German, British, Scandinavian, Aboriginal and other origins and from Presbyterian, Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Jewish, Quaker, and Catholic religious backgrounds. About 3,000 black Loyalists, freedmen and slaves, came north seeking a better life. In turn, in 1792, some black Nova Scotians, who were given poor land, moved on to establish Freetown, Sierra Leone (West Africa), a new British colony for freed slaves.

Abolition of slavery

Slavery has existed all over the world, from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East to the Americas. The first movement to abolish the transatlantic slave trade emerged in the British Parliament in the late 1700s. In 1793, Upper Canada, led by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, a Loyalist military officer, became the first province in the Empire to move toward abolition. In 1807, the British Parliament prohibited the buying and selling of slaves, and in 1833 abolished slavery throughout the Empire. Thousands of slaves escaped from the United States, followed “the North Star,” and settled in Canada via the Underground Railroad, a Christian anti-slavery network.

A growing economy

The first companies in Canada were formed during the French and British regimes and competed for the fur trade. The Hudson’s Bay Company, with French, British, and Aboriginal employees, came to dominate the trade in the northwest from Fort Garry (Winnipeg) and Fort Edmonton to Fort Langley (near Vancouver) and Fort Victoria — trading posts that later became cities.

The first financial institutions opened in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Montreal Stock Exchange opened in 1832. For centuries Canada’s economy was based mainly on farming and on exporting natural resources such as fur, fish, and timber, transported by roads, lakes, rivers and canals.

The War of 1812

The War of 1812After the defeat of Napoleon’s fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), the Royal Navy ruled the waves. But Americans resented British interference with their shipping. The USA believed that it would be easy to conquer Canada and launched an invasion in June 1812. Canadian volunteers and First Nations, including Shawnee led by Chief Tecumseh, supported British soldiers in Canada’s defence. In July, Major-General Sir Isaac Brock captured Detroit but was killed while defeating an American attack at Queenston Heights, near Niagara Falls. In 1813, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles de Salaberry and 460 soldiers, mostly Canadiens, turned back 4,000 American invaders at Châteauguay, south of Montreal. The Americans burned Government House and the Parliament Buildings in York (now Toronto). In retaliation in 1814, the British burned down the White House and other public buildings in Washington, D.C. The leader of that expedition, Major General Robert Ross, died in battle soon afterwards and was buried in Halifax with full military honours.

The war ended in 1814, when both sides gave back any territory they had captured. The British paid for a costly defence system including the Citadels at Halifax and Quebec City, the naval drydock at Halifax, Fort Henry at Kingston, and the Rideau Canal between Kingston and Ottawa. Today these are important historic sites and popular tourist attractions. The present-day Canada-U.S. border is partly an outcome of the War of 1812, which ensured that Canada would remain independent of the United States.

Rebellions of 1837–38

In the 1830s, reformers in Upper and Lower Canada believed that progress toward full democracy was too slow. Some believed Canada should adopt American republican values or even try to join the United States. When armed rebellions occurred in 1837–38 in the area outside Montreal and in Toronto, the rebels did not have enough public support to succeed. They were defeated by British troops and Canadian volunteers. A number of rebels were hanged or exiled; some exiles later returned to Canada.

Lord Durham, an English reformer sent to report on the rebellions, recommended that Upper and Lower Canada be merged and given Responsible Government. This means that the ministers of the Crown must have the support of a majority of the elected representatives in order to govern. Controversially, Lord Durham also said that the quickest way for the Canadiens to achieve progress was to assimilate into English-speaking Protestant culture. This recommendation demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of French Canadians, who sought to uphold the distinct identity of French Canada.

Some reformers, including Sir Étienne-Paschal Taché and Sir George-Étienne Cartier, later became Fathers of Confederation, as did a former member of the voluntary government militia in Upper Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald.

Responsible government

In 1840, Upper and Lower Canada were united as the Province of Canada. Reformers such as Sir Louis- Hippolyte La Fontaine and Robert Baldwin, in parallel to Joseph Howe in Nova Scotia, worked with British governors toward responsible government.

The first British North American colony to attain full responsible government was Nova Scotia in 1847–48. In 1848–49 the governor of United Canada, Lord Elgin, with encouragement from London, introduced responsible government.

This is the system that we have today: if the government loses a confidence vote in the assembly it must resign. La Fontaine, a champion of democracy and French language rights, became the first leader of a responsible government in the Canadas.

Confederation

From 1864 to 1867, representatives from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada, with British support, established a new country called the Dominion of Canada. There would be two levels of government, federal and provincial. Each province would keep its own legislature and have control of such areas as education and health. The British Parliament passed the British North America Act in 1867, after three conferences of representatives of the colonies held in Charlottetown, Quebec City, and London.

The birth of Canada, on July 1, 1867, is known as Confederation. The men who established Canada are called the Fathers of Confederation. Until 1982, July 1 was celebrated as “Dominion Day” to commemorate the day that Canada became a self-governing Dominion. Today it is officially known as Canada Day.

Dominion from Sea to Sea

Sir Leonard Tilley, an elected official and Father of Confederation from New Brunswick, suggested the term Dominion of Canada in 1864. He was inspired by Psalm 72 in the Bible which refers to “dominion from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth.” This phrase embodied the vision of building a powerful, united, wealthy, and free country that spanned a continent. The title was written into the Constitution, was used officially for about 100 years, and remains part of our heritage today.

Time Line of Provinces and Territories

1867 — Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick
1870
— Manitoba, Northwest Territories (N.W.T.)
1871
— British Columbia
1873
— Prince Edward Island
1880
— Transfer of the Arctic Islands (to N.W.T.)
1898
— Yukon Territory
1905
— Alberta, Saskatchewan
1949
— Newfoundland and Labrador
1999
— Nunavut

Canada’s First Prime Minister

Canadas First PM john-a-macdonaldIn 1867, Sir John Alexander Macdonald, a Father of Confederation, became Canada’s first Prime Minister. Born in Scotland on January 11, 1815, he came to Upper Canada as a child. He was a lawyer in Kingston, Ontario, a gifted politician, and a colourful personality. Parliament has recognized January 11 as Sir John A. Macdonald Day. His portrait is on the $10 bill.

Sir George-Étienne Cartier was the key architect of Confederation from Quebec. A railway lawyer, Montrealer, close ally of Macdonald, and patriotic Canadien, Cartier led Quebec into Confederation and helped negotiate the entry of the Northwest Territories, Manitoba, and British Columbia into Canada.

Challenge in the west

When Canada took over the vast northwest region from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1869, the 12,000 Métis of the Red River were not consulted. In response, Louis Riel led an armed uprising and seized Fort Garry, the territorial capital. Canada’s future was in jeopardy. How could the Dominion reach from sea to sea if it could not control the interior?

Ottawa sent soldiers to retake Fort Garry in 1870. Riel fled to the United States, and Canada established a new province, Manitoba. Riel was elected to Parliament but never took his seat. Later, as Métis and Indian rights were again threatened by westward settlement, a second rebellion in 1885 in present-day Saskatchewan led to Riel’s trial and execution for high treason, a decision that was strongly opposed in Quebec. Riel is seen by many as a hero, a defender of Métis rights, and the father of Manitoba.

After the first Métis uprising, Prime Minister Macdonald established the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1873 to pacify the West and assist in negotiations with the Indians. The NWMP founded Fort Calgary, Fort MacLeod, and other centres that today are cities and towns. Regina became its headquarters. Today, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP or “the Mounties”) are the national police force and one of Canada’s best-known symbols. Some of Canada’s most colourful heroes, such as Major General Sir Sam Steele, came from the ranks of the Mounties.

A Railway from Sea to Sea

British Columbia joined Canada in 1871 after Ottawa promised to build a railway to the West Coast. On November 7, 1885, a powerful symbol of unity was completed when Donald Smith (Lord Strathcona), the Scottish-born director of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), drove the last spike. The project was financed by British and American investors and built by both European and Chinese labour. Afterwards the Chinese were subject to discrimination including the Head Tax, a race-based entry fee; the Government of Canada apologized in 2006 for this discriminatory policy. After many years of heroic work, the CPR’s “ribbons of steel” fulfilled a national dream.

Moving westward

Canada’s economy grew and became more industrialized during the economic boom of the 1890s and early 1900s. One million British and one million Americans immigrated to Canada at this time.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier became the first French-Canadian prime minister since Confederation and encouraged immigration to the West. His portrait is on the $5 bill. The railway made it possible for immigrants, including 170,000 Ukrainians, 115,000 Poles, and tens of thousands from Germany, France, Norway, and Sweden to settle in the West before 1914 and develop a thriving agricultural sector.

The First World War

The First World WarMost Canadians were proud to be part of the British Empire. Over 7,000 volunteered to fight in the South African War (1899-1902), popularly known as the Boer War, and over 260 died. In 1900, Canadians took part in the Battles of Paardeberg (“Horse Mountain”) and Lillefontein, victories that strengthened national pride in Canada.

When Germany attacked Belgium and France in 1914 and Britain declared war, Ottawa formed the Canadian Expeditionary Force (later the Canadian Corps). More than 600,000 Canadians served in the war, most of them volunteers, out of a total population of 8 million.

On the battlefield, the Canadians proved to be tough, innovative soldiers. Canada shared in the tragedy and triumph of the Western Front. The Canadian Corps captured Vimy Ridge in April 1917, with 10,000 killed or wounded, securing the Canadians’ reputation for valour as the “shock troops of the British Empire.” One Canadian officer said: “It was Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade…. In those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation.” April 9 is celebrated as Vimy Day.

Regrettably, from 1914 to 1920, Ottawa interned over 8,000 former Austro-Hungarian subjects, mainly Ukrainian men, as “enemy aliens” in 24 labour camps across Canada, even though Britain advised against the policy.

In 1918, under the command of General Sir Arthur Currie, Canada’s greatest soldier, the Canadian
Corps advanced alongside the French and British Empire troops in the last Hundred Days. These
included the victorious Battle of Amiens on August 8, 1918 – which the Germans called “the black day of the German Army” – followed by Arras, Canal du Nord, Cambrai, and Mons. With Germany and Austria’s surrender, the war ended in the Armistice on November 11, 1918. In total 60,000 Canadians were killed and 170,000 wounded. The war strengthened both national and imperial pride, particularly in English Canada.

Women get the vote

At the time of Confederation, the vote was limited to property-owning adult white males. This was common in most democratic countries at the time. The effort by women to achieve the right to vote is known as the women’s suffrage movement. Its founder in Canada was Dr. Emily Stowe, the first Canadian woman to practise medicine in Canada. In 1916, Manitoba became the first province to grant voting rights to women.

In 1917, thanks to the leadership of women such as Dr. Stowe and other suffragettes, the federal government of Sir Robert Borden gave women the right to vote in federal elections — first to nurses at the battle front, then to women who were related to men in active wartime service. In 1918, most Canadian female citizens over 21 were granted the right to vote in federal elections. Due to the work of Thérèse Casgrain and others, Quebec granted women the vote in 1940.

Canadians remember the sacrifices of our veterans and brave fallen in all wars up to the present day in which Canadians took part, each year on November 11: Remembrance Day. Canadians wear the red poppy and observe a moment of silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to honour the sacrifices of over a million brave men and women who have served, and the 110,000 who have given their lives. Canadian medical officer Lt. Col. John McCrae composed the poem “In Flanders Fields” in 1915; it is often recited on Remembrance Day:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Between the wars

After the First World War, the British Empire evolved into a free association of states known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. Canada remains a leading member of the Commonwealth to this day, together with other successor states of the Empire such as India, Australia, New Zealand, and several African and Caribbean countries.

The “Roaring Twenties” were boom times, with prosperity for businesses and low unemployment. The stock market crash of 1929, however, led to the Great Depression or “Dirty Thirties.” Unemployment reached 27% in 1933 and many businesses were wiped out. Farmers in Western Canada were hit hardest by low grain prices and a terrible drought.

There was growing demand for the government to create a social safety net with minimum wages, a standard work week, and programs such as unemployment insurance. The Bank of Canada, a central bank to manage the money supply and bring stability to the financial system, was created in 1934. Immigration dropped and many refugees were turned away, including Jews trying to flee Nazi Germany in 1939. The D-Day Invasion, June 6, 1944 In order to defeat Nazism and Fascism, the Allies invaded Nazi-occupied Europe. Canadians took part in the liberation of Italy in 1943–1944. In the epic invasion of Normandy in northern France on June 6, 1944, known as D-Day, 15,000 Canadian troops stormed and captured Juno Beach from the German Army, a great national achievement shown in this painting by Orville Fisher. Approximately one in ten Allied soldiers on D-Day was Canadian. The Canadian Army liberated the Netherlands in 1944–45 and helped force the German surrender of May 8, 1945, bringing to an end six years of war in Europe.

The Second World War

The Second World WarThe Second World War began in 1939 when Adolf Hitler, the National Socialist (Nazi) dictator of Germany, invaded Poland and conquered much of Europe. Canada joined with its democratic allies in the fight to defeat tyranny by force of arms.

More than one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders (Newfoundland was a separate British entity) served in the Second World War, out of a population of 11.5 million. This was a high proportion, and of these 44,000 were killed. The Canadians suffered losses in the unsuccessful defence of Hong Kong (1941) from attack by Imperial Japan, and in a failed raid on Nazi-controlled Dieppe on the coast of France (1942).

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) took part in the Battle of Britain and provided a high proportion of Commonwealth aircrew in bombers and fighter planes over Europe. Moreover, Canada contributed more to the Allied air effort than any other Commonwealth country, with over 130,000 Allied air crew trained in Canada under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) saw its finest hour in the Battle of the Atlantic, protecting convoys of merchant ships against German submarines. Canada’s Merchant Navy helped to feed, clothe, and resupply Britain. At the end of the Second World War, Canada had the third-largest navy in the world.

Modern Canada

Trade and economic growth

Modern CanadaPostwar Canada enjoyed record prosperity and material progress. The world’s restrictive trading policies in the Depression era were opened up by such treaties as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), now the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 1951, for the first time, a majority of Canadians were able to afford adequate food, shelter, and clothing. Between 1945 and 1970, as Canada drew closer to the United States and other trading partners, the country enjoyed one of the strongest economies among industrialized nations. Today, Canadians enjoy one of the world’s highest standards of living — maintained by the hard work of Canadians and by trade with other nations, in particular the United States.

International roles

The Cold War began when several liberated countries of eastern Europe became part of a Communist bloc controlled by the Soviet Union under the dictator Josef Stalin. Canada joined with other democratic countries of the West to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance, and with the United States in the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD).

Canada joined international organizations such as the United Nations (UN). It participated in the UN operation defending South Korea in the Korean War (1950-53), with the loss of 500 dead and 1,000 wounded. Canada has taken part in numerous UN peacekeeping missions in places as varied as Egypt, Cyprus, and Haiti, as well as in other international security operations such as those in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

Like Australia, New Zealand, and other countries, Canada developed its national independence gradually with a capacity to make significant contributions.

A modern society

As social values changed in the postwar economic boom, Canada became a more flexible and open society. Canadians believe in the equality of men and women. Many took advantage of expanding secondary and postsecondary educational opportunities and a growing number of women entered the professional work force.

Most Canadians of Asian descent had in the past been denied the vote in federal and provincial elections. In 1948 the last of these, the Japanese-Canadians, gained the right to vote. Aboriginal people were granted the vote in 1960. Canada welcomed thousands of refugees from Communist oppression, including 50,000 who escaped Soviet tyranny in Hungary in 1956. Rules that gave preference to Europeans were removed from immigration laws in the 1960s. With the victory of North Vietnam in 1975, many Vietnamese fled from Communism, including over 50,000 who sought refuge in Canada.

As prosperity grew, so did the ability to expand social assistance programs. The Canada Health Act ensures common elements and a basic standard of coverage. Unemployment insurance (now called “employment insurance”) was introduced by the federal government in 1940. Old Age Security was devised as early as 1927, and the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans since 1965. Publicly funded education is provided by the provinces and territories.

French-Canadian society and culture flourished in the postwar years. Quebec experienced an era of rapid change in the 1960s known as the Quiet Revolution. Many Quebecers sought to separate from Canada. In 1963 Parliament established the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. The result was the Official Languages Act (1969), which guarantees French-language rights and services in the federal government across Canada. In 1970 Canada helped found La Francophonie, an international association of French-speaking countries.

The movement for Quebec sovereignty gained strength but was defeated in two referendums in the province in 1980 and 1995. The autonomy of Quebec within Canada remains a lively topic — part of the dynamic that continues to shape our country.

At the same time the idea of multiculturalism, as a result of 19th and 20th century immigration, gained a new impetus. By the 1960s, one-third of Canadians had origins that were neither British nor French, and took pride in preserving their distinct culture in the Canadian fabric. Today, diversity enriches Canadians’ lives, particularly in our cities.

Arts and culture in Canada

Arts and culture in CanadaCanadian artists have a long history of achievement in which Canadians take pride. Artists from all regions reflect and define our culture and forms of creative expression and have achieved greatness both at home and abroad. Canadians have made significant contributions to literature in English and in French. Novelists, poets, historians, singers, and songwriters have brought Canadian stories to light.

In the visual arts, Canada is historically perhaps best known for the Group of Seven, founded in 1920, who developed a style of painting to capture the rugged wilderness landscapes. Emily Carr painted the forests and Aboriginal artifacts of the West Coast. Les Automatistes of Quebec were pioneers of modern abstract art in the 1950s, most notably Jean-Paul Riopelle. Kenojuak Ashevak pioneered modern Inuit art with etchings, prints, and soapstone sculptures.

Canada has a long and respected performing arts history, with a network of regional theatres and world-renowned performing arts companies. The films of Denys Arcand have been popular in Quebec and across the country, and have won international awards. Other noteworthy Canadian filmmakers include Norman Jewison and Atom Egoyan. Canadian television has had a popular following.

Sports have flourished as all provinces and territories have produced amateur and professional star athletes and Olympic medal winners. Basketball was invented by Canadian James Naismith in 1891. Many major league sports boast Canadian talent and in the national sport of ice hockey Canadian teams have dominated the world. In 1996 at the Olympic Summer Games, Donovan Bailey became a world record sprinter and double Olympic gold medallist. Chantal Petitclerc became a world wheelchair racer and Paralympic champion. One of the greatest hockey players of all time, Wayne Gretzky, played for the Edmonton Oilers from 1979 to 1988.

In 1980, Terry Fox, a British Columbian who lost his right leg to cancer at the age of 18, began a cross-country run, the “Marathon of Hope,” to raise money for cancer research. He became a hero to Canadians. While he did not finish and ultimately lost his battle with cancer, his legacy continues through yearly fundraising runs in his name. In 1985, fellow British Columbian Rick Hansen circled the globe in a wheelchair to raise funds for spinal cord research.

Canadian advances in science and technology are world renowned and have changed the way the world communicates and does business. Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis were pioneer thinkers. Science and research in Canada have won international recognition and attracted world-class students, academics and entrepreneurs engaged in medical research, telecommunications, and other fields. Since 1989, the Canadian Space Agency and Canadian astronauts have participated in space exploration, often using the Canadian-designed and -built Canadarm. Gerhard Herzberg, a refugee from Nazi Germany, John Polanyi, Sidney Altman, Richard E. Taylor, Michael Smith, and Bertram Brockhouse were Nobel Prize-winning scientists.

Great Canadian discoveries and inventions

Canadians have made various discoveries and inventions. Some of the most famous are listed below.

  • Alexander Graham Bell — hit on the idea of the telephone at his summer house in Canada.
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier — invented the snowmobile, a light-weight winter vehicle.
  • Sir Sandford Fleming — invented the worldwide system of standard time zones.
  • Mathew Evans and Henry Woodward — together invented the first electric light bulb and later sold the patent to Thomas Edison who, more famously, commercialized the light bulb.
  • Reginald Fessenden — contributed to the invention of radio, sending the first wireless voice message in the world.
  • Dr. Wilder Penfield —was a pioneering brain surgeon at McGill University in Montreal, and was known as “the greatest living Canadian.”
  • Dr. John A. Hopps — invented the first cardiac pacemaker, used today to save the lives of people with heart disorders.
  • SPAR Aerospace / National Research Council — invented the Canadarm, a robotic arm used in outer space.
  • Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie — Co-CEOs of Research in Motion (RIM) — a wireless communications company known for its most famous invention, the BlackBerry.

inventionsThe prosperity and diversity of our country depend on all Canadians working together to face challenges of the future. In seeking to become a citizen, you are joining a country that, with your active participation, will continue to grow and thrive.