The world’s longest land border is between the United States and our neighbor to the north.  Most Americans, however, would find it difficult to talk about the country of Canada for more than a few minutes.  Join Active Minds for a full hour on what makes Canada unique and special, including their history and current challenges.

Key Lecture Points

  • Canada is the second largest country in the world with a population that is 1/10 of the United States. It possesses abundant natural resources that include the world’s third largest proven oil reserves.  Canada is the US’s largest foreign supplier of oil.
  • Canada’s sweeping history includes the ancient origins of Native tribes (whom the Canadians refer to as First Nations people).  The story of Europe in Canada can be traced back to the Vikings who came to North America in 1000.  Later explorations by England and France set the stage for colonial competition for the land and the valuable fur it produced.  Multiple wars between France and England on the continent were mirrored in colonial conflict in the Americas, culminating in so-called French and Indian War (1755-63) where France lost all of its Canadian land to England.  The relationship between the English and French Canadians has remained a delicate political and social matter ever since.
  • British Canada gravitated gradually toward greater autonomy in a way that differed markedly from the abrupt and violent US Revolution that severed ties with England in 1776.  Notably, in 1867, with British assent, the colonies of Canada formed the Confederation of provinces and made Canada a self-governing “Dominion” of the British Empire.  Thereafter, Canada expanded territorially with the purchase of Rupert’s Land—1/3 of Canada—from the Hudson’s Bay Company and the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885 that opened the door to the Canadian west for a flood of immigrants.
  • Economic and political issues facing Canada today include the current downturn in oil prices, impatience with the US’s indecision on the Keystone pipeline and upcoming elections in October 2015.

Exploration Questions

  • What are the parallels between US and Canadian history?  What are the differences?
  • Describe 3 major historical events in Canadian history and how they continue to influence current Canadian life.
  • What are the major political and economic issues Canada faces today?

Reflective Questions

  • What do you think Canada would be like if Quebec had separated from Canada in 1995?
  • Is there one single sport that dominates American life and defines our national identity like hockey does for Canada?  If so, which one?  Why?

More to Explore

Books For Further Reading

  • Oliver, Neil.  The Vikings: A New History.   Pegasus Books, 2014.  336 pages. Written by an archaeologist and historian, the author explores the Vikings and how they built an empire that reached from Scandinavia as far west as North America and as far east as Baghdad.
    Click here to order
  • Douaud, Patrick C. (editor) The Western Metis: The Profile of a People.   Canadian Plains Research Center, 2007.  326 pages. This book describes the origins of the Metis, their role in the fur trade and the resistance movements of 1869-70 and 1885.
    Click here to order
  • Moogk, Peter N.  La Nouvelle France:  The Making of French Canada—A Cultural History.   Michigan State University Press, 2000.  340 pages.  The author discusses the history of the troubled relationship between French-speaking and English-speaking Canada.
    Click here to order