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The making of Canada
John Cabot, an Italian sea captain in the pay of the British, discovered Can-ada in 1497, five years after Columbus discovered America. He planted a huge cross on the shore and sailed home, with the news that he had reached north east China , the land of the Great Khan , and that the sea was full of fish.
In 1534 , the French explorer, Jacques Cartier, sailed right down the St.Lawrence River until he could go no further. Among the great forests along the shore he met Indians who welcomed him, but in return he kidnapped some of their chiefs . He was the first European to treat the Indians with cruelty and treachery. It was almost another hundred years before French colonists settled on the banks of the St Lawrence and founded Quebec. They were sent there to give food and shelter to the French fur traders, who were carrying on a profitable trade with the Indians.
By the middle of the 18th century, the French in North America realized that they could not avoid a fight to the death with the British and their American colonists, but back in France the French king , Louis XV , was too busy with his wars with Prus-sia to bother much about what was going on in the ‘ Land of Ice and Snow’. So the French troops in Canada did not receive the supplies they needed so badly, and the few ships that did try to get through were usually captured by British warships.
Yet this colonial war ended in a famous battle. The British surprised the French by climbing the cliffs at Quebec in the middle of the night. After their defeat , the French were forced to give up each inch of land in North America. But the British allowed the French colonists , all 60,000 of them , to stay on, and they did no try to change the French way of life or their religion. The French were all Catholics. But the British warned them that Louis XV of France was no longer their King. Their King, from now on, would be King George III of England.
At that time there were very few British colonists in Canada. The first British settlers in Canada were American refugees who refused to fight against the British army in the Revolutionary War , because they felt they were more British than Ameri-can. They called themselves Loyalists, but their fellow Americans accused them of being traitors and took away their possessions. 80,000 Loyalists helped the British to defend Canada against Americans during the Revolutionary War.
During the first half of the nineteenth century one million immigrants, mostly British, settled in Canada, but there were hardly any French immigrants from France. However, the French Canadians‘ birth rate was high, so that in just over two centuries the French Canadian population increased from 60,000 to 6 million.
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