British North America – Canada
The first Whites to set foot on what later became known as Canada were the Vikings who established a settlement under Leif Ericson in Newfoundland around the year 1,000 AD. The Vikings did not, however, stay: either through conflict with the Amerinds or other difficulties, White contact with North America was lost until the 15th Century.
In search of a route to the East, the White explorer John Cabot, a Venetian in the service of England, sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. He was soon followed by Portuguese and other explorers who were seeking a water route to Asia through or around North America. In 1576, Martin Frobisher sailed to Baffin Island. In 1585, John Davis found and named Davis Strait.
First Amerind trade contacts
In the 1600s, permanent English communities grew up around Newfoundland’s Avalon peninsula, and French communities grew up on the island’s south coast. The first commercial contact with Canadian Amerinds was also started: the primary trade being animal furs.
From 1600, the French started seriously competing with the British for land in North America. The influx of Whites remained tiny: in 1663, New France had only 3,000 White settlers. In that year the French government disbanded the Company of One Hundred Associates, and established New France as a province of France ruled directly by a governor general in Quebec. A military force some 1,200 strong, arrived in 1665 to put an end to the Iroquois threat, and the French engaged in their first racial war on North American territory. After severely beating the Iroquois, who were forced to sue for peace, the French army established an increased military presence.
Growing rivalry between France and Britain led to a series of wars in the 1680’s known as the French and Indian Wars. At the time, Britain and France were involved in a general war in Europe, and the after effects played out in the colonies in North America.
The British had managed to ally themselves to the long-time French-foes, the Amerind Iroquois, and together forces from these two groups attacked the French settlements along the Saint Lawrence River between 1689 and 1697 (known as King William’s War). After ten years of inconclusive battles which descended into virtual guerrilla warfare, the warring parties signed a peace treaty (the Peace of Ryswick) in 1697. This treaty confirmed each territory’s borders as they were before the conflict had started.
In 1702, a new war, Queen Anne’s War, broke out between France and Britain, which ended disastrously for France: beaten, she was forced to cede major parts of her North American territories to the British, losing Newfoundland, Acadia and keeping the interior regions.
In the peaceful decades that followed, New France’s White population continued to grow and prosper: from 18,000 people in 1713, to 40,000 in 1737, and 55,000 in 1755.
In 1763, Amerind forces attacked the western outposts of the former territory of New France, where British troops had recently replaced the French. Most of these posts were in the central parts of New France (which now form the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin). The Amerinds in these areas resented the British occupation: as they saw that, unlike the White French, the British were intent on seizing the land for White settlement.
The result was that Amerind tribes in these regions joined the war against the British, even though many had been neutral during the war with the French. In this way Britain found itself switching from fighting the White French into fighting a race war with the Amerinds of Midwest America.
The Amerind attacks were however too weak to break the British troops— after several failed attempts to break the British lines the Amerind attackers evaporated and the war fizzled out. The French and Indian War was settled by the Treaty of Paris in 1763, in terms of which all of New France, with the exception of western Louisiana, was ceded to Britain. This added 65,000 White Frenchmen to the White British colonies in North America, and virtually doubled the size of the original British colonies in one swoop.
The Northwest Rebellion (1885)
A second Métis rising, the Northwest Rebellion, flared up in 1885, in the Saskatchewan valley as White settlement followed them into this region as well. Supported by a number of pure blood Amerinds (notably the Cree tribe), the Métis attacked a White force at Fort Carleton, forcing them to retreat south.
The White government then poured troops westward on the new railroad, and the Métis were defeated at the battle of Batoche in May 1885, with the rebel Métis leader being captured and hanged for treason in November of that year.
Canadian Amerinds overrun by immigration
In 1873, Canada created the Northwest Mounted Police, now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or Mounties, to administer the territories and keep order there. Part of their charter was to negotiate treaties with the Amerind tribes, with the intention of opening the Interior Plains to agriculture.
By 1901, Canada’s Amerind population was barely two percent of the population—some 100,000 individuals, a stark lesson of how quickly a race can be dispossessed of its land by the forces of immigration alone.
20th century immigration
The last quarter of the 20th century has seen Canada become the focus for a large wave of Third World immigration: the extent and consequences of this are discussed in the last two chapters of this book.