CANADA, as a geographical designation, has had in history a variety of meanings. Originally, it comprised an extensive range of country reaching, under the French, as far as even the Mississippi, away beyond the boundary lakes. It was subsequently lim ited to a region chiefly in the basin of the St. Lawrence—including in that term both the lakes and the river. C., in the souse in which that word is most generally known, was, in 1791, divided into two provinces, Ontario and Quebec, or 1. pper and Lower Canada.* These two sections were reunited in 1840; but became separate members of the confederation—the Dominion of Canada—in 1867. The country composed of these two provinces extends eastwards from a line drawn between lake Superior and James bay, a branch of Hudson's bay, to the gulf of St. Lawrence. Northward, it reaches from the Canadian lakes and the St. Lawrence to the high ridge of land which separates the rivers of C. from those of the region long known as the 'Hudson bay territory, but since 1870 forming a part of the Dominion oeCanada. C. is bounded n. by the (former) Hudson bay territory; e., by the gulf of St. Lawrence; s., by the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and the lakes Erie and Ontario; w., by lakes St. Clair, Huron, and Superior; and n.w., by the Indian territories. The area of C. is about 331,280 sq.m., of which 121,260 are in the province of Ontario, and 210,020 in the prov ince of Quebec. The principal river of C. is the St. Lawrence, and its most important tributaries are all from the left. The St. Lawrence drains an area of 565,000 miles. The Ottawa, 450 m. long, forms the boundary between Ontario and Quebec. The St. Maurice, nearly 400 m. in length, and the Saguenay, noted for its fine scenery, rank as rivers of the first magnitude, according to European analogies. The only affluents from the right worth naming are the Richelieu, the St. Francis, and the Chaudiere; and even of these subordinate streams, the last two are totally Canadian, while the first, as the outlet of lakes Champlain and George, belongs to the United States only in part.
In 1535, Jacques Cartier, a French navigator, b. at St. Malo in 1494, entering the St. Lawrence on the festival of the saint of that title, took nominal possession of I\ orth America iu the name of his king, Francis 1. It was not, however, till nearly a century later (1608) that Quebec was taken formal possession of. From that stronghold, France ruled for 150 years a vast region, extending eastward to Acadia— Nova Scotia—west ward to lake Superior, and down the Mississippi to Florida and Louisiana. In 1759, a small British army-5000 in number—under the command of gen. Wolfe (q.v.). virtually wrenched La Nouvelle France, on the " plains of Abraham," from her first European rulers by the taking of Quebec. Isle aux Noix, and forts Oswegatchic and Levis, suc cessively passed into the hands of the British, and then Montreal was beleaguered and taken by gen. Amherst with an army of 17,000 men. The capitulation of that city, which was signed 1760, brought to a final close the era of French dominion in Canada. The people of. the conquered country were secured, by the terms agreed to, in the free exercise of their religion; and peace was concluded between Britain and France in 1763.
In that year, a small portion of the recently acquired territory was organized by royal proclamation under English laws. In 1774, the new province was extended by parliamentary enactment, and that under French laws, down the Ohio to its confluence with the Mississippi, and up the latter stream to its source. Finally, C. receded to its present limits in 1783, giving up to the American republic the sites of six sovereign states—Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. In 1791, it was divided, under separate legislatures, into two sections—the eastern retaining French institutions, and the western receiving those of England; and these sections, again, after political discontent had in each ripened into armed insurrection, were re-united for legislative purposes in 1840.