Immigration to Canada

Immigration and its role in the making of Canadian history is an exciting account of a people, representing many backgrounds and beliefs, who united over a span of centuries to carve out a new nation from an uncharted wilderness. Fortitude, heroism, and discernment were the hallmarks of these transworld emigrants, whose self-renewing vitality created one of the grandest national epics in the history of the western world: The birth and the coming of age of Canada.

Just as England was being invaded for the last time by William the Conqueror in 1066, the amazing story of Canada was about to begin with the exploration of its eastern coast by other Viking warriors. These Norsemen established the first Canadian settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows, in northern Newfoundland. Shortly thereafter, however, this Viking outpost was abandoned; and no known visitors would appear on Canadian shores until almost 500 years later.

Yet once Canadian exploration resumed, it would continue virtually unabated until the present day. This resumption began in earnest when the English explorer, John Cabot, landed in 1497 either on the coast of Newfoundland or Cape Breton Island. Cabot, who had been commissioned by Henry VII of England to discover new trade routes to China and India, claimed all of Canada for his King.

Thirty-seven years later, the French explorer, Jacques Cartier, sailed into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, landing eventually on the Gaspe shore of what is now Quebec. In so doing, he claimed the vast new land for his King, Francis I.

Following Cartier, at the beginning of the next century, was Samuel de Champlain, sometimes called the Father of New France. Together with Sieur de Monts, Champlain founded Quebec, the first permanent settlement in Canada. Shortly thereafter, his followers established a missionary center within Quebec named Ville Marie. In 1642 its name was changed to Montreal.

Two years after he assumed personal rule of France, the most glorious of all French kings, Louis XIV, made Canada a province of his kingdom. This was done in 1663; and one hundred years later, there would be about 60,000 French settlers in the new province.

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