Aboriginal peoples in Canada include the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. The descriptors "Indian" and "Eskimo" are falling into disuse. Archaeological and Indigenous genetic studies support a human presence in the northern Yukon from 26,500 years ago, and in southern Ontario from 9,500 years ago. Old Crow Flats andBluefish Caves are two of the earliest archaeological sites of human (Paleo-Indians) habitation in Canada. Among the First Nations peoples, there are eight unique stories of creation and their adaptations.These are the earth diver, world parent, emergence, conflict, robbery, rebirth of corpse, two creators and their contests, and the brother myth. The characteristics of CanadianAboriginal civilizations included permanent or urban settlements, agriculture, civic and monumental architecture, and complex societal hierarchies. Some of these civilisations had long faded by the time of the first permanent European arrivals (c. late 15th–early 16th centuries), and have been discovered through archaeological investigations. The aboriginal population is estimated to have beenbetween 200,000 and two million in the late 1400s. Repeated outbreaks of European infectious diseases such as influenza, measles and smallpox (to which they had no natural immunity), combined with other effects of European contact, resulted in an eighty-five to ninety-five percent aboriginal population decrease post-contact. The Métis culture of mixed blood originated in the mid-17thcentury when First Nation and Inuit married European settlers. The Inuit had more limited interaction with European settlers during the early periods.
Europeans first arrived when Norse sailors (often referred to as Vikings) settled briefly at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around AD 1000; after the failure of that colony, there was no known further attempt atCanadian exploration until 1497, when Italian seafarer Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) explored Canada's Atlantic coast for England. In 1534 Jacques Cartier explored Canada for France. French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in 1603 and established the first permanent European settlements at Port Royal in 1605 and Quebec City in 1608. Among French colonists of New France, Canadiensextensively settled the Saint Lawrence River valley and Acadians settled the present-day Maritimes, while French fur traders and Catholic missionaries explored the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and the Mississippi watershed to Louisiana. The French and Iroquois Wars broke out over control of the fur trade.
The English established fishing outposts in Newfoundland around 1610 and established theThirteen Colonies to the south. A series of four Intercolonial Wars erupted between 1689 and 1763. Mainland Nova Scotia came under British rule with the Treaty of Utrecht (1713); the Treaty of Paris (1763) ceded Canada and most of New France to Britain after the Seven Years' War.
The Royal Proclamation (1763) carved the Province of Quebec out of New France and annexed Cape Breton Island toNova Scotia. St. John's Island (now Prince Edward Island) became a separate colony in 1769. To avert conflict in Quebec, the British passed the Quebec Act of 1774, expanding Quebec's territory to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. It re-established the French language, Catholic faith, and French civil law there. This angered many residents of the Thirteen Colonies and helped to fuel theAmerican Revolution.
The Treaty of Paris (1783) recognized American independence and ceded territories south of the Great Lakes to the United States. Around 50,000 United Empire Loyalists fled the United States to Canada. New Brunswick was split from Nova Scotia as part of a reorganization of Loyalist settlements in the Maritimes. To accommodate English-speaking Loyalists in Quebec, the...