Origin of Canada

History of Canada

Origin of Canada

Culture & Facts of Canada

Frequently Asked Questions


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Origin of Canada

The word Canada has an interesting correlation of historical incidents. It is said that Jacques Cartier, the French explorer met two young native Indians in 1535. On inquiring about the routes that surrounded the area, the young lads mentioned ‘kanata’, which is a Huron-Iroquois word meaning a hamlet or village. Cartier adopted the name to refer Stadacona (today’s Quebec City), and also to refer to the complete area surrounding it, subject to chief Donnacona.

Amusingly, by the year 1547, even maps showed the name Canada being referred to every place north of the St. Lawrence River. Cartier also christened the St. Lawrence River as the “Riviera` du Canada”. This name was used for quite some time and remained the same until 1600s. During the 1600s, the name often came to be vaguely used to refer Nouvelle France (New France) and by 1700s, it included areas up till the west and south of Canada.

It has been a subject of great interest to anthropologist and has led to many fictitious folk tales attempting to resolve the origin of the name Canada. One such blunder refers to a tale that Cartier once visited the shores to find nothing and referred to it in a map as ‘aqui` nada’ meaning ‘there is nothing here’. Rumours also point to early Spanish explorer Hennepin who did not like the country and hence called it Capa di Nada, meaning Cape Nothing!

During early 1700s, Canada referred to all lands of the present day American Midwest and as far south as today’s Louisiana. However, the first official use of the name Canada took place in the year 1791. It was when the Province of Quebec got separated into colonies of Upper and Lower Canada. Second major use of the name in paper was with the unison of Upper and Lower Canada again in 1841. The Province of Canada became a dominion in the year 1867 under four important province of federation-- Province of Canada, New Brunswick & Nova Scotia.

Following are the provinces and territories falling under the province of Canada that carry historical significance,

  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • Alberta
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • New Brunswick
  • Northwest Territories
  • Ontario
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

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