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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

Member of the *Commonwealth and the first of Britain's colonies to have become independent as a *dominion. European settlement of Canada had begun with the arrival of the French explorer, Jacques Cartier, in 1534. From this there developed round the St Lawrence river a large area known as New France, of value primarily to the fur-traders (their main quarry being the Canadian beaver). From the late 17C the British were also active in the fur trade further north, after the foundation of the *Hudson Bay Company. But the main area of friction was on the southern border of Canada, between New France and the British colonies of *America. Tensions here led eventually to war, and the French territories were ceded to Britain after the capture of Quebec by *Wolfe in 1759 and of Montreal in the following year. The change was formalized by the treaty of Paris in 1763.

The forcible inclusion of some 60,000 French Canadians within a British colony led to problems which continue today, in the issue of Quebec and separatism. Meanwhile the British population in the area was being steadily increased, first by loyalists emigrating from the newly independent American colonies and later by waves of immigrants from Britain (in particular from Scotland). The inhabited areas of the country were extended west towards the Pacific, first by the fur-traders and then by the discovery of gold.

In 1864 the separate governments of the more advanced eastern colonies met to discuss a federal union. The result, after parliament in London had passed the British North America Act of 1867, was the establishing of a new country, the Dominion of Canada, consisting of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Other provinces soon joined (Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, 1870; British Columbia, 1871; Prince Edward Island, 1873; Yukon Territory, 1898; Alberta and Saskatchewan, 1905; and eventually Newfoundland, in 1949). The new country remained a monarchy, recognizing the British king or queen as head of state and setting the pattern for all members of the Commonwealth until India became a republic in 1949.

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