Canada Day trivia

Who was the first Prime Minister of Canada?  This is a tricky question.  The first Prime Minister after Confederation in 1867 was John A McDonald.  But the Act of Union of 1841 merged Upper Canada and Lower Canada (now Ontario and Québec) into the United Province of Canada.  The first elected leader of the United Province of Canada was Robert Baldwin, with Louis Lafontaine as his lieutenant.

The union of Upper and Lower Canada was the results of the rebellions in 1837.  The one in Upper Canada was led by William Lyon Mackenzie and the one in Lower Canada by Louis Joseph Papineau.  The grievances were the same: a colonial administration that was deaf to the aspirations of the populace.

Confederation in 1867 added the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to Canada and established the new nation as entirely self-governing.  The remaining five provinces were added from 1870 to 1949.

Montréal was named the capital of the United Province in 1843.  In 1849 the elected government passed the Rebellion Losses Bill to compensate property owners who had suffered losses during the rebellions.  An angry English-speaking mob torched the legislature.  They thought it was OK to compensate English-speaking property owners, but not those who were French-speaking.

French and English are the official languages of Canada and people anywhere in Canada can deal with the Federal government in either language.  Eight provinces are officially English-speaking, Québec’s official language is French and New Brunswick is the only province that is officially bilingual, providing equal services in both languages.  All the other provinces provide some services in the non official language: especially education.

Fifty years ago the population of the USA was ten times as much as Canada’s.  Now it is only nine times as much: Canada 35 million; USA 315 million.

Québec City was founded in 1608 and is the oldest city in Canada.  The old part of the city is the only walled city north of Mexico.

The original French explorers and settlers (Jacques Cartier, Samuel Champlain, Marc Lescarbot, Pierre Esprit Radisson, Médard Chouart de Groseillères, for example) were Protestants trying to escape religious troubles in France.

Canadians you may not have heard of:

Jonathan Goforth of southwestern Ontario was one of the most active and effective missionaries to China (1888-1935).

William Featherstone of Montréal wrote the words of My Jesus I Love Thee before his seventeenth birthday.

Josiah Henson of Dresden, Ontario, an escaped slave, established an institute to teach agriculture and trades to fellow escaped slaves.  Harriet Beecher Stowe visited him and used the things he told her as the basis for Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Laura Secord of Queenston, Ontario.  During the war of 1812 she overheard American soldiers talking of their plan to ambush the troops at Beaver Dam.  She walked twenty miles through the bush to warn Lieutenant James FitzGibbon.  Two days later the Americans were ambushed by a party of 400 Indians and the American colonel, with 462 men, surrendered to Lieutenant FitzGibbon and his 30 soldiers.

Charles Saunders, the developer of Marquis wheat.  Red Fife wheat was the main variety grown in eastern Canada, but when the prairies began to open up for farming, Red Fife often froze before it was mature.  Dr. Saunders crossed Red Fife with Hard Red Calcutta and selected plants that were early maturing, high yielding, had stiff straw and whose kernels had the best milling and baking qualities.  Marquis began to be distributed to farmers in 1912 and by 1918 was grown on 20 million acres from southern Nebraska to northern Saskatchewan.  This was the wheat that made the Canadian prairies a bread basket for the world.

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