abolition (ch. 7)

Refers to putting an end to the institution of slavery. In Britain, a single piece of legislation resulted in the abolition of slavery in 1834. Abolition in Upper Canada was initiated by John Graves Simcoe in 1793.

aboriginal title (ch. 7)

Indigenous ownership of land, territory, or other material resources.

absentee landlords (ch. 7)

Also called proprietors, the main landowners on Prince Edward Island, whose land was allocated to them in a lottery held in London in 1767. Few of them visited the island and few attended to the responsibilities they were given as landlords. Most, however, attempted to charge significant rents to their tenant farmers in the colony.

absolutism (ch. 3)

A system of government in which authority is vested in the monarch with no provision for any kind of institutional opposition.

Acadian Expulsion (ch. 6)

The removal of Acadians and other francophones from Île Royale after 1745, and accelerating after 1755 as the British forcibly removed the larger portion of the colonist population. In French, it is called Le Grand Dérangement.

African American slaves (ch. 7)

Chattel slaves, principally from Africa, who worked primarily on plantations. Slavery occurred throughout North America in both European and Indigenous communities. Some African American (as opposed to African Caribbean) slaves were later freed, depending on their role in the American Revolution.

agricultural revolution (ch. 2)

In the context of the Archaic era, the development of the first farming societies in the Americas.

anglicization (ch. 7)

British policy of replacing French culture — language, customs, laws, and Catholic religion — with those of Anglican/Protestant Britain.

anthropogenic (ch. 2)

Made or modified by humans.

archaeological record (ch. 2)

Any evidence regarding past societies and civilizations that is derived from the use of archaeological techniques and methods.

Archaic period (ch. 2)

The era described by archaeologists and anthropologists as roughly 10,000 to 3000 years BP.

archives (ch. 1)

Collections of original documents, including print-based objects, like personal letters, official reports, journals, newspapers, maps, government papers, and so on. Archival collections may also include photographs, music (in a variety of forms), and textiles. Technically, your own collection of original materials is an archive, but for the purposes of history courses, archives are official repositories that may or may not be open to the public.

aristocracy (ch. 3)

A privileged social class whose power is usually derived from birth, heredity, and almost exclusive ownership of land, as well as close connections with the clergy, the government, and with the Crown. As a form of government, an aristocracy is a system in which a small and wealthy elite holds power to the exclusion of others.

Attawandaron (ch. 5)

An Iroquoian people located in the contact and post-contact periods in what is now southwestern Ontario. Also known as the Neutral.

Aztecs (ch. 2)

A Mesoamerican civilization and polity that collapsed in the early 16th century. The Aztecs developed many agricultural techniques and administrative customs that influenced societies around the Gulf of Mexico. Their influence may have spread up the Mississippi River as well.

baby boom generation (ch. 1)

Individuals born in the post-Depression era of c. 1939 to 1964.

Battle of Sainte-Foy (ch. 6)

Battle on April 28, 1760, near the citadel of Quebec with the French/Canadien forces attacking the British. General Murray repeated many of the errors Montcalm made only months before. The British survived (but not without suffering more than a thousand casualties) by hunkering in the fortress until British naval reinforcements arrived.

Before the Common Era (BCE) (ch. 2)

The time period before our current one. This term, along with CE, aligns exactly with the Christian dating system, dividing time approximately 2000 years ago.

Before the Present (BP) (ch. 2)

A dating system based on the use of radiocarbon dating that uses January 1, 1950, as its baseline. Therefore, 10,000 years BP equals 10,000 years before New Year’s Day, 1950.

Bering land bridge (ch. 2)

The land form that connected Eurasia and North America between Siberia and Alaska 50,000 to 10,000 years BP. Made mostly of land that was exposed by falling sea levels, it is a possible historical route for human migration from Asia to the Americas. Also called Beringia.

Black Death (ch. 3)

Also called simply “the plague,” a highly contagious disease reckoned to have reduced the total human population by 25% and as much as half of Europe's population in the 14th century. In its aftermath, there was social and religious upheaval from China to the British Isles.

Blackfoot Confederacy (ch. 5)

Also known as the Niitsitapi, an alliance centred in the western Plains, in territory that extended from what is now southern Alberta into Montana. Consisting of the Piikáni (Piegan), Siksika (Blackfoot), Káínawa (Kainai, Blood), Tsuut’ina (Sarcee), and A’aninin (Gros Ventre).

bourgeois (ch. 6)

Originally someone who lived in the town (French: bourg; German: burg; English: borough), typically associated with merchants, professionals, etc. By the 18th century, the bourgeoisie emerged as a distinct social class, a “middle class.”

brewing (ch. 7)

The production of beer, like the distilling of whisky, was a means of adding value to surplus grain being grown in Upper and Lower Canada beginning in the 1780s. John Molson of Montreal was an early participant in brewing and — like many Canadians who followed in his footsteps in the liquor production trade — amassed a great fortune.

British North America (ch. 7)

Term used intermittently after 1783 to describe the colonies left to Britain after the Revolution. Initially, these included Newfoundland, the Province of Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. Subsequently, the list would increase to include new colonies (Cape Breton Island and New Brunswick), a partitioned colony (Upper and Lower Canada), and — in very general terms — Rupert’s Land (which was not administered by a Crown delegate). Vancouver Island and British Columbia would also be regarded as part of British North America before Confederation.

buffalo jump (ch. 2)

A kind of site found on the Plains that is associated with highly coordinated bison hunts conducted by Indigenous communities.

Cahokia (ch. 2)

Thought to be the largest of the Mississippian towns/cities. Located near present-day St. Louis, it is believed to have crested around 1050 CE and collapsed around 1350 CE.

Cajuns (ch. 4)

Francophone settlers in Louisiana descended mostly from Acadiens.

capitalism (ch. 9)

Capitalism is the system in which the means of production (farms, factories, etc.) are privately owned and capable of being bought and sold. It generally depends on wage labour. Capitalism is also a system of social relations based on the right of the individual to move capital to wherever it will generate the greatest benefits.

cayuse (ch. 5)

Regional word for “horse” in the Cordillera and western Plains. Derived from the Cayuse First Nation, who were responsible for significant advances in breeding in the 18th century. Another variant is cayoosh.

censitaires (ch. 4)

Also known as “habitants,” the rent-paying tenants of the seigneurs. The rent is known as the cens.

Chateau Clique (ch. 7)

The Chateau Clique were a highly influential cadre of economic and social leaders who fashioned themselves politically as the British (or Tory) Party in Lower Canada. Their numbers included prominent merchants like James McGill and John Molson. Their agenda included assimilation of the French Catholic population and perpetuating a hierarchical social and political order.

chattel slavery (ch. 3)

Ownership of a human being as a piece of property.

Chemin du Roy (ch. 6)

The “King’s Road,” built in the 1730s; a major infrastructure project in its time. One of the longest continuous roads in North America, it connected seigneuries on the north shore of the St. Lawrence.

Chesapeake Affair (ch. 7)

A British attempt during the Napoleonic Wars to reduce American shipping to France by capturing U.S. shipping vessels and impressing (forcing) sailors into the British Navy. In 1807, the USS Chesapeake, a warship, was bombarded and captured by the HMS Leopard; four sailors were seized and tried for desertion from the British Navy, one of whom was subsequently hanged. The Americans regarded this as an act of aggression, and the incident fomented war fever in some quarters.

chiefdom (ch. 2)

A form of organization based on a hierarchy of chiefs that followed the leader of the most important group.

Chinook (ch. 5)

A trade dialect developed on the West Coast comprising elements from several Indigenous languages and subsequently adopting words from various European languages. Also known as chinuk wawa.

Church of England (ch. 3)

The state church in England established under Henry VIII in opposition to Roman Catholicism. Also known as the Anglican Church.

civil rights movement (ch. 1)

In the United States, a movement principally in support of improved legal and civil rights for Black Americans. The movement is regarded as running from 1954 to 1968. It produced other movements associated with demands for rights for other groups that have historically faced prejudice and systemic marginalization.

Clergy Reserves (ch. 7)

Created by the Constitutional Act (1791), land parcels set aside (one-seventh of all public lands) in Upper Canada for the use of the Church of England (a.k.a. Anglican Church). There were smaller Clergy Reserves in Lower Canada as well.

Clovis (ch. 2)

A prehistoric Paleo-Indian culture. Named for the archaeological site in New Mexico where it was first identified, the Clovis culture is identifiable by the kinds of projectile heads it produced.

coastal migration theory (ch. 2)

An alternative to the Bering land bridge theory that posits that the first human arrivals in the Americas arrived by sea, following the arc of the North Pacific icefield and skirting Beringia.

Code Noir (ch. 4)

Introduced under Louis XIV in 1685, the Code Noir established the ground rules for slavery in the French colonies. This included a prohibition of any religion other than Catholicism, the range of discipline permissible, and the conditions required for manumission (freeing of slaves).

codexes (ch. 2)

Scrolls written by Aztec and/or Mayan authors and scribes from the period both before and after the arrival of Europeans. Also known as codices.

collectivity (ch. 1)

A group of people who identify as part of a social body that may or may not correspond to a political unit. For example, First Nations peoples may identify collectively as First Nations, as opposed to (or perhaps in addition to) their identity as Cree or Mi’kmaq. French Canadian identity very often exists independent of (and sometimes in contrast to) a larger bicultural Canadian identity.

Columbian Exchange (ch. 5)

The traffic of goods, ideas, matériel, foodstuffs, technology, knowledge, and bacteria from Europe and Africa to the Americas and vice versa.

Common Era (CE) (ch. 2)

Our current time period. This term, along with BCE, aligns exactly with the Christian dating system, dividing time approximately 2000 years ago.

common law (ch. 7)

British code of laws dealing with property, contracts, and other civil matters.

Communauté des habitants (ch. 4)

Worked in conjunction with the Compagnie des Cent-Associés in an arrangement that sublet the Cent-Associés' monopoly to residents in the colony of Canada. Also known as the Compagnie des habitants.

Compagnie des Cent-Associés (ch. 4)

The Company of One Hundred Associates (sometimes called the Company of New France or Compagnie de la Nouvelle France) was chartered in 1627 to operate the fur trade in Canada and Acadia and establish settlements. It followed two earlier chartered efforts, the Compagnie des Marchands and the Compagnie de Montmorency. The Compagnie des Cent-Associés ceased operating in 1663.

Constitutional Act (ch. 7)

The 1791 legislation that created two colonies — Upper and Lower Canada — out of what was left of the Province of Quebec after the Treaty of Paris (1783). In Upper Canada, the British common law was applied, while the Coutume de Paris survived in Lower Canada. Both colonies received their own administrative structures.

contact (ch. 2)

The first documented encounter between Indigenous peoples and Europeans. This is a movable date because first encounters occur in different regions at different times. The contact era for some Arctic peoples, for example, only began in the 20th century.

coparcenary (ch. 6)

A system of joint inheritance of property. Compare with primogeniture.

counting coup (ch. 2)

The practice, common among many Indigenous cultures, of attacking rival groups with the objective of inflicting injury, but not necessarily death, and thereby acquiring status commensurate with the humiliation meted out to the foe.

coureurs de bois (ch. 4)

In English, known as “runners of the woods.” The first coureurs de bois were young men dispatched by Champlain to reside among the Wendat, learn the Wyandot language, and develop an understanding of local trade protocols. Subsequently, the coureurs were more likely to be independent or semi-independent traders seeking sources of furs among Indigenous communities across the interior of North America.

Coutume de Paris (ch. 7)

The Coutume de Paris was a code of civil law developed in and for Paris and extended to New France. Addressed land ownership and use, family relations, and inheritance.

decapitation thesis (ch. 7)

Historical theory that explains the apparent loss of Canadien leadership in the colony after the Conquest as the result of an exodus of leading commercial, administrative, and social figures to France.

demographic historian (ch. 1)

A historian of population trends and mechanisms.

diffusion (ch. 2)

The transmission of ideas, practices, or beliefs from one society to another.

disease vector (ch. 5)

A living agent that transfers a virus or bacteria from one host to another. Examples include people and mosquitoes.

divine right of kings (ch. 3)

A doctrine based on the belief that the monarch's power is derived directly from God and not from worldly authorities like a legislature, a council of nobles, or even the Vatican.

Dorset (ch. 8)

The Paleo-Eskimo culture that existed in the Canadian Arctic from c. 500 BCE–1500 CE. Succeeded by the Inuit culture.

East India Company (ch. 6)

Established in 1600, the largest of Britain’s chartered trade monopolies. It dominated trade and was an instrument of British imperialism in Asia, as well as the model on which the Hudson’s Bay Company was based.

Edict of Nantes (ch. 3)

A statement of relative religious tolerance in 1598 that brought an end to the Wars of Religion in France and extended civil rights to Protestants (Huguenots).

Embargo Act (ch. 7)

Federal legislation that was passed in the United States in 1807 to effectively close off all exports to foreign ports, in an attempt to force the British and French to respect American shipping. The objective was to starve the importing nations of American goods and thus oblige them to cease preying on American shipping. The act was repealed in 1809.

English Reformation (ch. 3)

Term used to describe several events connected to the English break with Catholic Rome under Henry VIII.

environmental history (ch. 1)

The history of human interaction with natural and human-made settings. The environment may be a pristine one or an urban context. In some cases, it is a study of how human activity impacts the environment (and vice versa); in others, it studies the idea of the environment and how that concept changes over time.

environmentalism (ch. 1)

A philosophical interpretation of human interactions with the environment. May also refer to an activist movement and critique regarding the negative impacts of those interactions.

escheat (ch. 7)

A movement to force unimproved lands on Prince Edward Island back into the hands of the Crown. The Escheat Party made the land issue the dominant one in the colony in the 19th century.

ethnohistory (ch. 1)

A branch of academic studies that bridges anthropological and historical approaches. Ethnohistory is principally concerned with non-European societies.

Family Compact (ch. 7)

An association of leading individuals and families in Upper Canada devoted to the suppression of republican tendencies in the colony and perpetuating an oligarchy in government.

Father Le Loutre’s War (ch. 6)

Also called the Mi’kmaq (or Micmac) War, a 1749–1755 conflict that pitted the Mi’kmaq and some of the Acadian communities against the British and New England interests in Nova Scotia. Name derived from the role played by Catholic Abbé Jean-Louis Le Loutre, a missionary who led the French, Acadian, and Wabanaki forces.

Father Rale’s War (ch. 6)

Named for Father Sébastien Rale, a Catholic priest who nominally led the Wabanaki forces, this 1722–1725 conflict is known by several other names as well. It was provoked by New England expansion into unceded Wabanaki territory in what is now Maine and New Brunswick. The French were allied with the Wabanaki against the British and New England forces.

feminism (ch. 1)

An analysis of power relations that posits the existence of systemic barriers to equality between humans based on gender identity. Feminism calls for a program of political and social action aimed at improving the conditions of women.

feudalism (ch. 6)

An economic and landholding system of social, legal, and military customs based on notions of mutual responsibility. Land ownership was typically by a manorial elite, for which a peasantry laboured. The aristocratic landowners, in turn, owed labour to the higher nobility, including the king.

filles du roi (ch. 4)

In English, known as “the king's daughters.” Between 1663 and about 1673, this cohort of women (mostly young and many orphans) was recruited by the Crown’s agents (mostly in Paris) for settlement in Canada. Their passage was paid for by the king, and they were provided with a dowry as an incentive to marriage.

Fort Astoria (ch. 8)

Established at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1811 by John Jacob Astor’s Pacific Fur Company, Astoria was the first American position on the northwest coast. It was soon sold to the North West Company.

Fort Beausejour (ch. 4)

Settlement built by the French in 1751 on the Chignecto Isthmus, which connects modern New Brunswick to Nova Scotia. This was an important land corridor connecting the Fortress of Louisbourg with Acadien settlements and Canada. The fort was also intended to support Mi'kmaq allies during war. Captured by the British in 1755, the name was changed to Fort Cumberland.

Fort Caroline (ch. 3)

Established by the French in 1564, it is reckoned to be the oldest fortified European settlement in what is now the United States.

Fort Pitt (ch. 7)

Site of modern-day Pittsburgh. Replaced the French establishment, Fort Duquesne.

Fortress Louisbourg (ch. 6)

Established in 1713 as a fishing village, an important fortified centre of trade and naval activity from the 1720s on. Louisbourg was one of the largest towns in New France by the 1740s and an important asset in French efforts to harass the British in Acadia. Twice captured by the British and New Englanders, it was largely demolished in 1758.

franchise (ch. 7)

The ability and right to vote in a democratic society. It is always arbitrarily determined and is defined as much by who it excludes as by who it includes. “Universal adult male suffrage” was never achieved in British North America before Confederation, forget the extension of the franchise to women or Indigenous peoples generally.

free trade (ch. 6)

A philosophy of commerce that calls for limited or no tariffs and protectionism. Free trade is in stark contrast to mercantilism.

freedmen (ch. 7)

Slaves who were freed from slavery, either by manumission or by emancipation.

Gallican (ch. 4)

A perspective widely held in France and its colonies from the 17th century that spiritual authority resides with the Pope, but civil authority with the monarch. Because much of what the colonial clergy attended to was essentially “civil” — farming, administering the colony generally, etc. — many of the Catholic clergy looked first to Paris for leadership and not to the Vatican. This position was challenged with some finality at the First Vatican Council of 1868, at which papal infallibility was defined.

gift diplomacy (ch. 4)

In the context of European-Indigenous relations, the practice of renewing — annually or otherwise regularly — diplomatic relations and alliances by providing gifts to leadership figures. It includes the practice of “covering the dead,” a round of gift-giving following wartime deaths of an ally’s soldiers.

grease trails (ch. 2)

Trade routes that originated in the pre-contact era in what is now British Columbia. Used for transporting oolichan grease, an important Indigenous commodity.

Great Peace of 1701 (ch. 5)

A treaty struck between New France and 40 Indigenous nations. The Great Peace drew to an end the long-running war between Canada and the Haudenosaunee Five Nations and what had become known in some circles as the Beaver Wars. Also known as the Great Peace of Montreal.

Great Peace of 1701 (ch. 6)

A treaty struck between New France and 40 Indigenous nations. The Great Peace drew to an end the long-running war between Canada and the Haudenosaunee Five Nations and what had become known in some circles as the Beaver Wars. Also known as the Great Peace of Montreal.

guard hairs (ch. 6)

The barbed outer hairs found on many mammal pelts, typically longer than the underpelt and more easily shed.

guerrilla (ch. 6)

A form of warfare distinguished by the lack of structure and organization typical of formal warfare. Characterized by ambushes, small units, and lightning raids, guerrilla warfare aims to demoralize and wear down a larger opponent that lacks the same speed and mobility.

Gulf Stream (ch. 6)

A strong current that runs from the Caribbean along the east coast of North America, across the Atlantic, and along northwestern Europe. It accelerates sea traffic heading east to Europe and can impede vessels heading west to the Americas.

historiography (ch. 1)

Historical writing and the study of historical writing.

Hochelaga (ch. 3)

St. Lawrence Iroquoian fortified town at or near what is now Montreal.

home guard (ch. 8)

Middleman cordon formed around the HBC forts by Indigenous groups that had a prior claim to the territory. Ensured that they enjoyed first access to trade goods.

Hudson’s Bay Company (ch. 8)

In 1670, a monopolistic charter modelled on the East India Company that was granted to “The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay.” Also known as the HBC.

Huguenots (ch. 3)

French Protestants.

Hundred Years’ War (ch. 3)

A series of conflicts running from 1337 to 1453 related to royal successions in England and France.

hypothesis (ch. 2)

A suggested explanation for a historical phenomenon, event, or idea. Plural is hypotheses.

ideology (ch. 1)

A system of ideas and values that guides one's understanding of society and the economy and may also drive political and personal agendas.

Île Royale (ch. 4)

Established as a colonial site by the French in 1713, it is the location of the Fortress of Louisbourg. Captured by the British in 1755, it was renamed Cape Breton Island.

Île Saint-Jean (ch. 4)

Part of the French colony of Acadia, it was captured by the British in 1758 and renamed first Saint John's Island, and later Prince Edward Island.

illicit trade (ch. 6)

In the context of mercantilism, unsanctioned trade between colonies.

imperialism (ch. 1)

A philosophical position that encourages the extension of one nation or empire’s power over other, subject peoples. May take the form of colonization, military conquest, or a campaign of propaganda and ideas.

indentured servants (ch. 6)

An individual contracted on a multi-year, fixed-term basis to work in the colonies. Usually taken up by young men and women whose passage would be paid by their employer. At the end of the indenture, young men would typically receive a new suit. Large numbers of migrants from Britain to the Thirteen Colonies are thought to have started in indentured servitude. This system was regularly abused and, in some circumstances, was barely distinguishable from slavery.

Inquisition (ch. 3)

A process and an institution aimed at ensuring Catholic supremacy and religious integrity in Western Europe. In Spain, it was geared toward eliminating Muslim and Jewish influences at the end of the 15th century and was an important part of the value system carried to the Americas by the conquistadors.

intendant (ch. 4)

Beginning in 1663, the administrative officer responsible for civil affairs in New France. The intendant’s portfolio included judicial affairs, infrastructure, military preparedness, addressing issues of corruption, and colonial finances. Notionally the most powerful figure in the colony, in practice, the intendant was often rivalled by the governor.

interdisciplinary studies (ch. 1)

Academic approaches that combine traditionally separate disciplines, such as biology and history.

Intolerable Acts (ch. 7)

A number of taxes and tariffs introduced by the British government during the Seven Years’ War that targeted the American colonies in an effort to recover financial losses. Following American protests, Parliament passed more laws that gave Britain greater powers in the colonies. It also introduced the Quebec Act, which reattached the Ohio Valley and the Northwest to the Province of Quebec and enhanced the rights of the Catholic Church; both provisions were provocative in the Thirteen Colonies. Together, the Intolerable Acts catalyzed the revolutionary movement in the colonies.

Jay’s Treaty (ch. 7)

A 1794 treaty that resolved several issues outstanding from the Treaty of Paris (1783). With this treaty, the Americans were keen to address the continuing British presence and role in the Ohio/Northwest, and the British wished to secure American neutrality in the French Revolutionary Wars and clarify the boundaries with Canada.

Jesuit Order (ch. 4)

The Society of Jesus was established in 1534 and is characterized by its fierce loyalty to papal authority in all matters. Their members first arrived in Canada in 1625 to assist the Recollets in missionary work among the Indigenous population. The Jesuits played a pivotal role in French relations with Wendake (Huronia).

Jesuit Relations (ch. 4)

Reports from Jesuit missionaries in Canada and an important source of historical and ethnographical material on the Wendat and other First Nations. In part, the Relations served as a means to secure more funding from France. They were eventually published for a wider readership and were thus a source of revenue for the order.

Kingdom of the Saguenay (ch. 3)

According to Donnacona and other Stadaconans, a wealthy settlement north of the Laurentian Iroquois territories. Perhaps mythical, perhaps meant to distract or deceive the Europeans, the story may have legitimate roots in an oral tradition now disappeared.

L'Anse aux Meadows (ch. 3)

The Viking settlement in northern Newfoundland, established c. 1000 CE.

l'Ordre de Bon Temps (ch. 4)

The Order of Good Cheer was suggested by Champlain in 1606 as a means of improving morale among the residents at Port-Royal. It is reckoned that the first meeting of the Order constitutes the first performance of European-style theatre in North America.

Late Loyalists (ch. 7)

American immigrants who arrived in British North America in the years after the Revolution, especially in the 1790s and the first decade of the 19th century. Their “loyalism” was never certain, and they were often outspoken critics of Toryism.

little ice age (ch. 2)

The term given to the hemispheric downturn in average temperatures that lasted from the 1600s (or as early as the late 1200s in some locales) to the 1820s. Much of North America and northwestern Europe was affected.

longhouse (ch. 2)

A style of domestic building that typically accommodates an extended family and serves as a storehouse for equipment, food, and other belongings. Longhouses take many forms in Indigenous cultures in what is now Canada, use different kinds of materials, and may be fixed, movable, or something in between.

Louisiana Purchase (ch. 7)

The sale of the Louisiana Territory by Napoleon to the United States in 1803. In 1800, Spain returned to France the territory it had ceded to Spain in 1762, which encompassed the western half of the Mississippi drainage (that is, from New Orleans to southern Alberta and Saskatchewan). Less than three years later, France decided to forgo attempts to rebuild New France and sold the territory to the United States.

Loyalists (ch. 6)

British-American colonists who were opposed to the revolutionary position struck by other colonists. At the end of the Revolution, many Loyalists joined an exodus to other parts of British America, particularly Nova Scotia and Quebec.

maize (ch. 2)

A modified crop form of a grass known as teosinte. Commonly referred to today as “corn,” maize was first developed by Mesoamerican societies.

marchands (ch. 7)

The marchands were the Canadien merchants of Montreal, as opposed to the post-Conquest British and British American merchants who arrived to take over the fur trade.

Maritime Archaic (ch. 2)

A variant on the Archaic tradition. Maritime Archaic cultures were found on the Atlantic coast.

Marxism (ch. 1)

An ideology and mode of analysis associated with the 19th-century German philosopher Karl Marx. This body of theory argues that political and social relations in the past and present are determined principally by economic structures. As an ideology, it argues for changes to productive relations that will result in greater equity and the end of social class barriers.

matriarchy (ch. 2)

A political system in which authority resides with females.

matrilineal (ch. 2)

Of or denoting familial relations that focus on the mother’s family, with property, status, and clan affiliation being conferred through the female line.

matrilocal (ch. 2)

Of or denoting a social system in which married couples reside in or in close proximity to the home(s) of the wife's family or parents.

megafauna (ch. 2)

Large pre-contact animals found globally whose modern descendants are considerably smaller.

Mesoamerica (ch. 2)

The cultural zone that stretches across almost all of Mexico and south through much of Central America. Some of the largest agricultural and urban civilizations in the Americas prior to contact were in Mesoamerica.

Mesoamerican triad (ch. 2)

Also called the “three sisters,” the crops of maize, beans, and squash, which were developed in Mesoamerica and diffused across the Americas centuries before contact.

Michilimackinac (ch. 5)

An important centre of trade in the pre- and post-contact periods, historically dominated by the Odawa and Ojibwe. Located at the narrows between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, Michilimackinac was used as a mission centre by the Jesuits and, later, as a trading post site by the North West Company.

Middle Passage (ch. 3)

Shipping lanes between Africa and the Americas on which the principal cargo was captive humans, enslaved in west Africa. Mortality rates were as high as 20% on the voyage.

miscegnation (ch. 5)

Derived from the Latin verb for “to mix” and the noun for “kind,” the term that has been used for the last two centuries to describe interracial marriage or sexual relations between people of different races.

Mississippian (ch. 2)

An agricultural, town-centred civilization that thrived from c. 500 to 1400 CE. Located at the heart of North America and connected by the river and lakes network to lands from the Rocky Mountains to the Gaspé, the Mississippian culture had a powerful impact on the societies that followed.

mound builders (ch. 2)

Hopewellian and Mississippian cultures that were notable for erecting large complexes of earthworks.

Mourning Wars (ch. 2)

Conflicts associated principally with the Haudenosaunee and impacting virtually all their neighbours. This wide-ranging series of conflicts covered much of what is now southern Ontario and the Ohio Valley. One goal was to acquire captives who would be adopted into the captor's community, so as to replace population lost to epidemics and earlier wars and raids.

multiculturalism (ch. 1)

Both the phenomenon of the relatively equitable co-existence within a community of people from distinct cultural traditions and a policy of embracing diversity. There were, therefore, multicultural communities in pre-Confederation Canada, but multiculturalism only became widely supported in the post–World War II era.

Napoleonic Wars (ch. 7)

A series of wars involving France and much of the rest of Europe from 1803 to 1815. The War of 1812 was a chapter in the larger conflict.

National School (ch. 1)

Sometimes called Nationalist History or National History School. Refers to accounts of the past that emphasize the growth and evolution of the nation-state as the proper focus of historical studies, as opposed to social or economic relations.

New Amsterdam (ch. 6)

The Dutch colonial settlement at the mouth of the Hudson River in what was once called New Netherland and subsequently renamed New York.

New Caledonia (ch. 8)

Technically, the north-central part of what is now mainland British Columbia, as well as an administrative centre at Fort St. James. In practice, “New Caledonia” was used to refer to most, if not all, of the mainland colony.

New England (ch. 6)

A region in the northeastern United States consisting of six states: Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine.

New Left (ch. 1)

A political movement in the 1960s and 1970s that opposed U.S. participation in the Vietnam War and supported the civil rights movement. Influential on university campuses at mid-century, the New Left had an impact on historical and other academic studies.

new social history (ch. 1)

A school of historical studies that drew attention to race, gender, and social class as defining features of historical experience. The new social history developed a view of past societies from the “bottom up.”

New Spain (ch. 3)

From 1522 to 1821, a territory stretching, at its peak, from the north coast of South America through Central America and Mexico to California, and what is now the American Southwest. It also included Florida, which was separated from the rest of New Spain by the French possession, Louisiana.

North West Company (NWC) (ch. 8)

A joint-stock fur trading company established in Montreal after the Conquest and led by British American and Scottish merchants. The principal competition to the HBC. The NWC’s agents were called North Westers or Nor’Westers.

Northwest Indian War (ch. 7)

Conflict from 1785–1795. Part of an ongoing attempt by the Indigenous Northwestern Confederacy to insulate the Ohio Valley and what the Americans referred to as their Northwest Territory against American invasion. Also known as Little Turtle's War. Followed Pontiac's Rebellion and anticipated Tecumseh's War.

northwest passage (ch. 8)

The water route connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean via the Arctic Ocean.

nursery of the navy (ch. 6)

The Grand Banks and other fisheries in the northwest Atlantic that were regarded by imperial powers in Europe as training grounds for sailors and recruitment grounds for their respective navies.

oolichan (ch. 2)

An anadromous fish prized on the West Coast for its high oil content.

oral history (ch. 1)

A verbal account of events in the past. This could be an account provided by a contemporary of the events described or one that is part of an oral tradition, which suggests a multi-generational account that is preserved carefully in the retelling. Oral histories are particularly important in the study of non-literate societies.

oral tradition (ch. 2)

Generally refers to an account of events that took place in earlier generations and that is transmitted by oral storytelling (as opposed to writing). Distinctions used to be drawn sharply between oral tradition and oral history, which was regarded as accounts of events within the lifetime of the teller. More recently, oral history has become equated with oral tradition and has been granted greater respect for its reliability.

Pacific Fur Company (ch. 8)

Fur trade venture created by New York–based entrepreneur John Jacob Astor. It established Fort Astoria on the northwest coast, but lasted for less than three years in the face of increased competition in the North American fur trade. Also known as the PFC.

Paleo-Indian (ch. 2)

Term used to describe the peoples occupying parts of the Americas until about 8000 BP.

Paleolithic (ch. 2)

The period associated with the concept of the “Stone Age,” referring to human technological development before extensive use of metals. Dates vary from continent to continent and region to region.

parliament (ch. 3)

Generally, an elective assembly of representatives engaged for the purpose of governing the whole or advising the Crown. Specifically, the English/British elected assembly in Westminster. After 1867, this term refers as well to the Canadian elected assembly.

Pays d’en Haut (ch. 6)

A part of New France containing much of what is now Ontario, the whole of the Great Lakes, and notionally all the lands draining into them. Extended as far as the Upper Mississippi and the Missouri. Translates roughly into the “upper country.”

Pennsylvania Dutch (ch. 7)

German settlers in Pennsylvania, many of whom moved to Nova Scotia shortly after the Conquest.

petroglyphs (ch. 2)

Images carved into rock.

pictographs (ch. 2)

Images painted onto rock and other surfaces.

Plains of Abraham (ch. 6)

Located near the Citadel of Quebec, it was the site of what proved to be a pivotal battle between British and French/Canadien/Indigenous forces in September 1759.

planters (ch. 6)

Some 2000 settlers in Nova Scotia in the period between the Acadian Expulsion and the 1780s, drawn from New England.

polygyny (ch. 5)

Describes a plural marriage in which two or more women share the same husband.

Pontiac (ch. 5)

Also known as Obwandiyag, Pontiac (c. 1720–1769) was an Odawa (Ottawa) leader who launched a campaign against the British at the end of the Seven Years’ War in the region around Fort Detroit.

post-contact (ch. 2)

The years after documented encounters between Indigenous peoples and Europeans. Post-contact typically describes a relatively short period. Although our current society is technically “post-contact,” it makes little sense to use the term that way.

potlatch (ch. 2)

A ceremonial event mounted by most Northwest Coast peoples and many in the interior of what is now British Columbia. It involves the giving away of property at an event, typically one marking a succession, a marriage, or a death. Accumulating goods for an impressive potlatch was an important mechanism for attaining social status for the host and also redistributing wealth through a system of related villages.

pre-contact (ch. 2)

The period before the first documented encounters between Indigenous peoples and Europeans. Pre-contact societies may also be proto-contact societies, depending on circumstances.

pre-Loyalist (ch. 7)

Term for non-francophone settlers in British North America who arrived before the Loyalist migration in 1783–1784. Almost exclusively associated with settlers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

presentist fallacy (ch. 1)

The belief that the events of the past are directly responsible for conditions in the present. Presentism often ignores intervening events. It also tends to thank the past for positives (such as current freedoms) while it seldom holds the past accountable for liabilities (such as a lacklustre economy and continuing struggles over equality).

primary sources (ch. 1)

Original historical resources, such as diaries, letters, and government inquiries.

primogeniture (ch. 6)

System of inheritance that favours the eldest male offspring. Compare with coparcenary.

Protestant Reformation (ch. 3)

Beginning c. 1517, a movement to reform the Catholic Church and many of its practices. Resulted in a split between reformers and the papacy and the rise of distinct sects, including the Church of England, the Scottish Presbyterian Church, Methodism, Puritanism, Quakerism, Lutheranism, and many others.

proto-contact (ch. 2)

The period of indirect influence of Europeans on Indigenous peoples. Some of the effects of contact ran ahead of direct encounters. For example, diseases and/or trade goods might be passed from one Indigenous community that had experienced face-to-face contact to a great many others that had not.

Province of Quebec (ch. 7)

Created by the Royal Proclamation (1763), the province included lands from Detroit to the Gaspé Peninsula, but removed the Ohio Valley and the west from Quebec’s (Canada’s) control.

quantitative historical techniques (ch. 1)

Historical methods that use statistical sources rather than (or in addition to) qualitative sources like diaries and personal letters. Tax ledgers, census manuscripts, land surveys, and many kinds of church records provide enough information for us to work toward aggregate knowledge of people in the past.

Quebec Act (ch. 7)

Also called the British North America Act, 1774 (not to be confused with the British North America Act of 1867), it was the legislation that restored the Ohio Valley and the northwestern Pays d'en Haut to the Province of Quebec, provided official recognition of the rights of Catholics in the colony, and restored the Coutume de Paris and the ability of the Catholic Church to collect tithes. It recognized the rights of seigneurs and irritated the Thirteen Colonies where it was seen as cheating the Appalachian colonies of their prize in the Ohio. It was grouped with the other Intolerable Acts. It is regarded as a partial cause of the American Revolution.

Quiet Revolution (ch. 1)

A political and social phenomenon in post–World War II Quebec that saw the power of the clergy and conservative elements eclipsed by a liberal-nationalist movement.

Recollets (ch. 4)

A Franciscan order whose members were the first missionaries in New France, arriving in 1615. The Recollets are credited with the first batch of beer in New France (1620) and were responsible for recruiting the Jesuit Order into the missionary field in Canada in 1625. Expelled from New France in 1629, they returned in 1670 and served until their numbers were depleted after the Conquest.

reconquista (ch. 3)

Episodes of Spanish-Christian resistance to Spanish/Moorish-Islamic control of the Iberian Peninsula, lasting from the eighth or ninth century CE and culminating in the surrender of Granada in 1492.

regicide (ch. 6)

The murder of a king.

revisionist (ch. 1)

A historian who re-evaluates history and revises it based on new understandings. As a critical term, “revisionist” is sometimes used to describe historians who change histories for political purposes.

Royal Proclamation (ch. 7)

The legislation passed on October 7, 1763 that created the Province of Quebec and recognized aboriginal title in the west. The Act angered American settlers because it hampered westward movement into the Ohio Valley.

Rupert’s Land (ch. 8)

According to the HBC’s charter of 1670, all the lands draining into Hudson Bay. Includes northwestern Quebec, northern Ontario, most of Manitoba, some of central Saskatchewan and Alberta, as well as southeastern Nunavut.

Sapa Inca (ch. 3)

Quechua for “the only Inca,” the monarch of the Inca Empire. Atahualpa was the last person to hold this title.

second-wave feminism (ch. 1)

Associated principally with the 1960s and 1970s, second-wave feminism focused on systemic discrimination in domestic and public environments, calling for equality for women in pay and treatment in the workplace, an end to sexism, and legislation to protect women’s reproductive rights.

secondary sources (ch. 1)

Documents that examine primary documents and provide an interpretation. Historical studies of past events are, by definition, secondary sources.

seigneury (ch. 4)

The seigneurial system in New France, and especially in the colony of Canada, sought to reproduce elements of the French feudal system. Although some of the seigneurs in Canada were nobles, most were military officers and members of the clergy. Rent values were based on rates set by the Crown, not on the scarcity of land or labour. Seigneurs had to provide their tenants (censitaires, habitants) with a gristmill (the use of which was essentially taxed), and the tenants provided an annual round of labour (corvée), which might involve road building or erecting a chapel.

Skraelingar (ch. 3)

Term used by the Norse (Vikings) to describe Indigenous North American peoples they encountered between Greenland and Newfoundland. Probably applied to the Thule and the Innu in particular, and perhaps to the Beothuk as well.

Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (ch. 2)

The religion associated with the Mississippian cultures. Many features of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex were shared with Indigenous cultures in what is now Ontario and Quebec.

Stadacona (ch. 3)

The village of the St. Lawrence Iroquois at or near the current site of Quebec City.

staple (ch. 6)

A raw material or unprocessed product. Fish and furs were primary staples in the early colonial economies of New France and British America. Lumber and grain were later staple exports from New France and British North America. For the staple theory, see Chapter 9.

status quo ante bellum (ch. 6)

A term used in treaty-making meaning a return to how things were before the war.

Sulpicians (ch. 4)

Operating out of the Parisian parish of Saint-Sulpice (from which their name derives), the Sulpicians were a wealthy order without a vow of poverty. This distinguished them from the more austere Jesuits and Recollets.

sun dance (ch. 2)

A renewal ceremony celebrated by many Plains peoples. It was sponsored by an individual who wished to give to his tribe or to thank or petition the supernatural through an act of self-sacrifice for the good of the group.

taxation without representation (ch. 7)

A principle espoused by American colonists in the 1770s articulating the view that British law forbade the seizing of a citizen’s property by the state without his consent (which could be given by an elected representative in Parliament). As the colonies had no representatives in Parliament, the colonists maintained that they could not be taxed.

teosinte (ch. 2)

A variety of grass that was modified into maize (also known as “corn”) by Indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica.

Thule (ch. 8)

Arctic culture that evolved into Inuit culture. The Thule migrated across and occupied the Arctic mainland and islands beginning c. 1000 CE and reached Labrador and Greenland c. 1300 CE.

Tories (ch. 7)

A term associated with Loyalists in the American Revolution whose philosophical position was opposed to the Whiggish/republican stance of Thomas Paine and the Patriots. Also a term sometimes used for British and Canadian conservatives today.

Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (ch. 6)

Treaty from 1748 that concluded the War of the Austrian Succession. Restored the status quo ante bellum in North America.

Treaty of Ghent (ch. 7)

Intended to end the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States. The treaty was agreed to in 1814, but not signed into law by the U.S. Senate until February 1815. The treaty restored the status quo ante bellum between British North America and the United States, which meant that Britain was removed from the American Northwest, leaving Indigenous peoples without an ally to help defend their interests.

Treaty of Paris (1763) (ch. 6)

A 1763 treaty that ended the Seven Years’ War. France ceded all of its territory east of the Mississippi (including all of Canada, Acadia, and Île Royale) to Britain and granted Louisiana and lands west of the Mississippi to its ally Spain. Britain returned to France the sugar islands of Guadeloupe. France retained St. Pierre and Miquelon, along with fishing rights on the Grand Banks. Not to be confused with the 1783 Treaty of Paris.

Treaty of Paris (1783) (ch. 7)

The 1783 treaty that ended the American Revolution (War of Independence). Not to be confused with the 1763 Treaty of Paris. Britain recognized the independence and sovereignty of the United States of America. Boundaries were established (and later disputed) between the United States and British North America. The United States was to compensate Loyalists for lost property, which never occurred. See also Jay’s Treaty.

Treaty of Ryswick (ch. 6)

Treaty from 1697 that terminated the War of the League of Augsburg and restored the status quo in North America from before the war.

Treaty of Tordesillas (ch. 3)

The division in 1494 of the Atlantic world between Portugal and Spain. Portugal acquired Brazil and acknowledged that Spain had a prior claim to the rest of the Americas.

Treaty of Utrecht (ch. 6)

Treaty from 1713 that ended the War of the Spanish Succession. French claims on territory in Newfoundland, on Hudson Bay, and Acadia (Nova Scotia) were ceded to Britain, except for Île Royale and Île Saint-Jean.

triangular trade (ch. 3)

Commercial traffic beginning with goods from northwestern Europe traded into ports along the west African coast for slaves, ivory, and other commodities, which were then shipped across the Atlantic (the Middle Passage) to colonies in the Americas, where they were traded for plantation products, which were subsequently ferried north and east back to northwestern Europe.

United Empire Loyalist (ch. 7)

An honorific title taken by Loyalists and their descendants to celebrate their migration to British North America at the end of the Revolution. Typically signals a strong Tory bent.

Vinland (ch. 3)

The name given by the Norse (Vikings) to the east coast of North America.

virgin soil epidemic (ch. 5)

Attributed to the anthropologist/historian Alfred Crosby, the term describing a situation in which a disease, bacteria, or virus discovers a population with no natural immunity arising from previous encounters with it. Very high mortalities are a typical consequence.

voyageurs (ch. 8)

Members of the fur trade whose principal task was to move furs, people, and materials across great distances. Some voyageurs were also traders. Also called trip men.

War Hawks (ch. 7)

American politicians mainly from the South and the West who were angered by British predations on American shipping out of their ports and harassment of American settlers and regiments by British-Indigenous armies. In 1812, their enthusiasm for war finally won out over New England's caution.

Wars of Religion (ch. 3)

A series of wars fought in Europe arising ostensibly from divisions within Christianity. The French Wars of Religion (1562–1598) distracted the Crown from transatlantic enterprises.

Whig (ch. 7)

A mutable term associated with the British Whigs (a radical/liberal political party), the American Patriots/Whigs (revolutionaries in 1775–1783), and 19th century Canadian liberals. Common features include a challenge to the prerogatives of the Crown, a suspicion of Catholicism, and belief in individual rights and liberties. In the American colonies, it developed into a form of republicanism.

winter count (ch. 2)

A record of events recorded in the form of pictures; associated mainly with Siouan cultures.

wintering partners (ch. 8)

The prominent NWC employees who spent the year in the West. As part of the decision-making process, they would meet annually with the Montreal agents at Fort William, where company-wide plans would be made in council. Also called hivernants.

Woodland period (ch. 2)

The era described by archaeologists and anthropologists as roughly 1000 BCE to 1000 CE.


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Canadian History: Pre-Confederation - 2nd Edition Copyright © 2020 by John Douglas Belshaw is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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