Back to my jr high social studies class we were kind of doing more on territorial topics but didn't talk much about the cultural and economical sides of it. I remember we didn't even talk about Canada's north. I know that Canadian Pacific Railway tied up the east and west coasts and brought the provinces under a confederation. It's the most significant part of the Canadian history of nation building in overall.
The Canadian Pacific Railway is the first thing that comes into my mind if thinking about nation building. If you look at things more closely whenever traveling along the cross nation railway, you will find lots of historical events tied into this. For example there were lots of properties supposedly owned by the CPR. In other words many hotels/ resorts at the tourist landscapes located along the railway were originally run by the corporation. That's how the modern Canada was shaped.
Speaking of the railways, the tarnished parts of it are the exploitation of the Chinese labourers and the Chinese Immigration Act/ head tax.
First thing I think of is the Bay, HBC incorporated in 1670, is older than Canada. And of course many people know its famous history of fur trade between the new land and European markets. This leads to the encounter between the aboriginals and Europeans, predominately the British and French pioneers. It also consists of the conflicts between the British and French.
In the 1800s the confrontations was intense between the HBC & North West Company.
What I could remember is after two decades they had signed the merger agreement and ended the hostility eventually.
The Trans-Canada Highway is definitely the most tremendous part of building the nation that connects different places from coast to coast, it's about 8000 km. I thought it might be the longest highway on Earth. After having checked that it's shorter than Highway 1 of Australia and Trans-Siberian Highway in Russia. But I think the Trans-Canada Highway is better in road quality. The construction began in 1950s and finally completed in 1970s. However it was opened by 1962. It really helps improve the logistics and freight.
I guess for many social studies classes at most schools that don't teach a lot about how the aboriginals did contribute to the national building of this country. They are always portrayed as being dependent. We only learn about some treaties and land claims. I doubt students might know their involvements in wars. So many of us still have some kind of stereotypes on their living in reserves, getting payments on subsidies, having sluggish lifestyle, and committing violent crimes. We have to know what are the causes to the social problems they are having. There hasn't been so successful so far after all.
Every year we get to know the names of those explorers but don't really talk about some other areas like interesting historical events. That's the reason why so many students just don't like social studies. I somehow agree with Will, it's pretty ironic in a way when we learn things or get people know about the Canadian natives but don't even realize how they're seeing our world. For example the oral history is the big part of their cultures. We do know some Metis descendants but most of whom aren't sure the heritage/ traditions well.
I think Canada really has its own way of "true autonomy" not until post WWII before that Canada was heavily influenced under the monarch of the British Empire in terms of making foreign policy, political decisions and shaping its cultural identity. At that time the PMs of Canada consciously/ voluntarily were responsible for reporting to the Crown. Until the Statute of Westminster was passed on December 11, 1931, Canada was truly able to form and pass own laws and constitutions.
Peace Bridge - connecting between Canada and the U.S. it's a major infrastructure built in the 20s.
Dated back to the years of American Revolutionary War, the American forces were trying to advance to Quebec however they were failed. It is known as the Battle of Quebec. I think the more interesting part of this battle is Colonel Benedict Arnold of the Patriot forces. The general, Montgomery was fallen right after the attack. Arnold was handing over the fort at Hudson River to the British later after the defeat at the battle. The ending is relatively a moral lesson: No matter how hard Arnold wanted to gain trust from the British after he had betrayed America, nobody really trusted or respected him both in London and Canada.
The uprising in Red River area in 1870s and the establishment of the province - Manitoba. Most of the rebels were Metis who led by Louis Riel but soon put down by the Canadian government. Louis fled to the U.S. However after 5 years or so he was charged of high treason and was executed.
He or this event is controversial to some historians and Manitobans. From the eye of Canadian government at that time he was a traitor. But he is now more likely portrayed as a founder of Manitoba and a forerunner of multiculturalism and tolerance.
Canada was submissive to the Crown at that time. It also raises a question from other people, why does Canada have so many differences than the U.S.? The way Canadians have gone through is undoubtedly pretty much more diverse, such as having various waves of immigration.
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was first shown in 1982. Canada since then has been unique comparing to other countries.
The loyalists, were the American colonists, migrated to Canada for supporting the British and Crown. There was a good number of Blacks who were escaping from slavery, indigenous people, and social minorities, namely the religious minorities. A couple reasons they were moving to Canada. They were discriminated down in the South, their properties and rights were stripped off by the revolutionary forces and others by large. Also, they believed the new land would rather promising and mild to political affairs. Many liked its idea of evolution but not "revolution". Throughout different eras Canadians have seen or been exposed to immigrants from different backgrounds and cultures, so most would likely adopt an attitude of observance prior to adoption. It makes us more tolerated. Maybe that's the cause to people of the U.S. would think we are more submissive than them.
To some people Canadian history of nation building sounds a bit plain. Some even say Canadians are conformists - they don't fully independent from the Brits and tradition and haven't really come up with their own' s. The political system is mainly inherited from the British Parliament and its monarch culture. The younger Canadians whom I know don't really like the senate and appointment system.
French colonial power had heavily affected the land of New France in North America in its 17th to 18th centuries. I know the most of its history in Eastern Canada is the contact with the Iroquois. Later on it expanded its trading routes and missionary work by settling further explorations on the new land. It however couldn't bring major impacts on rest of the regions in Canada. The Brits had the upper-hand though.