A Gateway to Canada

  • Added:
    Feb 05, 2013
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Canada Lynx Kitten
Canada Lynx Kitten
Photo by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region

When Jacques Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence River in 1535, he was looking for a way to China. He was not the first visitor to Canada`s east coast. The Vikings were there long before him – in the 10th century. Fishermen from different parts of Europe came in the 15th century. But when Cartier found the entrance to the St. Lawrence and sailed up the river, he found an easy way to the interior of this great land. On his trip up the river he saw whales and walruses – fish that look like horses and go on land at night, as he described the walruses.

There are still a few whales in the river, but no longer any walruses. After Cartier came settlers from France, England, other parts of Europe. Some stayed on small farms by the river, others moved on the interior where they hunted and traded with the Indians for furs. Many settled in the towns of Quebec and Montreal. Until 1759 both England and France claimed this land. The English finally won this dispute in a battle near Quebec, a battle in which the English and French commanders both died. For a long time ships that carried people and goods up the St. Lawrence could go only as far as Montreal because of the dangerous rapids there. In 1959 the first big ships went through a long channel that bypassed the rapids and went on up the river to the Great Lakes.

As these ships sail by the beautiful thousand islands, their passengers can see many attractive summer cottages where people are enjoying themselves, happy to be away from the big cities for a few weeks. Canada is the second largest country in the world. With an area of 9, 976, 185 square kilometers, it is almost as big as the whole of Europe. However, it has a population of only 27 million people. This is less than half the population of Britain.

Most of Canada`s people are the descendants of European immigrants: 45% from Britain and Ireland, 29% from France and 6% from Germany. Today a lot of immigrants come from Asia. Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada, has a large Asian population. The original inhabitants of Canada were the Inuit (or Eskimos) and the Indians, but today they are only 4% of the population. Most of them live in the north of Canada. In winter Canada is very cold and it has a lot of snow. Skiing, skating and ice hockey are all very popular.

Britain and France fought over Canada for nearly two hundred years. Finally in 1763 Britain took control. Canada is now an independent country, but the British Queen is still the head of state. Most of the population speak English, but about 6 million Canadians speak French as their first language. Most of the French speakers live in the province of Quebec. In fact, Montreal, in Quebec, has more French speakers than any other city in the world except Paris. Toronto is the largest city in Canada. Montreal is the second largest city. But neither is the capital city. The capital is Ottawa.  






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