It is believed that the Indians and Inuits are the only true native Canadians. They had been living in the land that is now Canada for over years before any Europeans had even seen the country. The rest of the people living in Canada are new Canadians, who have been transplanted there from other parts of the world, particularly from Europe.
The first Europeans to come to North America were probably the Icelandic colonizers of Greenland. According to Icelandic sagas, Leif Ericson landed at a place called Vinland around 1000 AD. Archeological evidence suggests that Nordic people established some settlements in Labrador and Newfoundland. However, they were not permanent and thus not very important in the story of development of Canada.
The second wave of European exploration t ook place after CH. Columbus landed on San Salvador in In the years that followed, explorers kept running into North America. Many of them, under governmen t auspices, attempted to reach the Asia's riches by crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
John Cabot, an Italian seaman in the service of the King of England, reached Newfoundland and Cape Breton in On the basis of his voyage, England later claimed the entire territory. Another explorer, who was very important for Canada's history, was Jacques Cartier. He sailed up the Saint Lawrence River, claiming the land for France. The first permanent settlers were the French who came in the 17 th century and called their colony in the St. Lawrence valley - New France. The adventures of the first explorers are still very exciting to read, however the hardship and tortures they endured are hard to believe.
The main rivals of the French in the colonization process were the English. They were constantly in war. When the Seven Years' War ended in 1763 with the Peace of Paris, New France was turned over to Britain. The only places left to France were the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon. The conquest of the France placed the British as rulers of French colonists. To avoid troubles, two successive governors, James Murray and Sir Guy Carleton persuaded the Crown to pass the Quebec Act in This Act extended the territory of Quebec. It also permitted the French to use their civil law and gave the Roman Catholic Church some special privileges. This was very important for the French Canadians in Quebec, because they could keep their traditions and customs.
In the early 1900's Canada had its own government elected by the people. The government collected and spent its own taxes, made its own laws but its powers were still very limited. Canada could not sign treaties with other countries, had no representatives at international meetings, and had no foreign embassies. This situation changed shortly after World War I. Canada was given a membership in the League of Nations and in 1920, it established its first treaty with a foreign country. Finally the Statue of Westminster in 1931 made Canada an independent nation.
As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Canada regards the monarch of England as its sovereign. The monarch's representative in Canada is the Governor General who is appointed by the monarch on the advice of the Canadian Government. The Governor General is a symbol of unity and has no real powers, but opens Parliament, signs bills that have been passed by Parliament, welcomes important guests to the country, and attends special functions on behalf of the monarch.