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O Canada!

It's that time again, Canada! Break out the red and white striped t-shirt and the fake maple leaf tattoos you've been saving for the occasion because we're turning 145 years old on July 1st, 2012!

What better way to show off your patriotism this year than by visiting historic places that helped shape Canada's identity? To commemorate Canada's special day and evoke national pride, here is a short history of Canada up to Confederation told through the eyes of some historic places:Hochelaga, Parks Canada / Hochelaga, Parcs Canada

Although there is evidence of Europeans arriving in Canada as early as the 11th century, Europeans did not truly settle in Canada until the 16th century. Upon arrival, contact with the First Nations was immediate and relations between the two peoples were founded. Hochelaga National Historic Site of Canada was the location of such an encounter during Jacques Cartier's second visit to the New World in 1535. Hochelaga, an Iroquois village, was estimated to have 1500 inhabitants and contain 50 longhouses at the time of contact, as recorded by Cartier in his logbook. However, the village was deserted by the 1600s as a new trading alliance between the French, Montagnais, Algonquin and Huron excluded the Iroquois, forcing the Iroquois to move from the St. Lawrence Valley and relocate closer to new trading partners. Today, it is unknown where the actual site is, but a cairn commemorating this place was erected near McGill University in Montréal, Québec as a supposed location.Port Royal Habitation, Parks Canada / L'Habitation de Port Royal, Parcs Canada

After the "discovery" of the New World, many attempts were made at settling the land, though it proved to be difficult because of the harsh Canadian winters. Sieur de Mons was determined to establish a permanent colony at Port Royal, Nova Scotia in 1605. Since the original site was destroyed a few years later, the Port Royal Habitation was re-constructed in 1939 based on sketches made by Champlain. It gives visitors an idea of what it was like to live in Canada during the settlement years of the 15th and 16th centuries. This important settlement ensured the integration of French culture into North America.McLeod's Lake Post, Sharon Dugan, BC Heritage Branch

When it was discovered that gold and spices were scarce in Canada, the fur trade quickly expanded as a lucrative natural resource. Soon the fur trade companies were racing to establish posts across Canada. McLeod's Lake Post established in 1805, is the oldest continuously-occupied fur trade post in British Columbia involving interaction between Aboriginals and Europeans. Constructed by the Northwest Company and then controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821 after the merger of both companies, the post was relocated in 1823 near the community of McLeod's Lake and its trading partner, the Tsek'ene Village, where it operated for another 148 years. What makes this post truly unique is that it is one of the only Hudson's Bay Company structures to never have defensive measures put in place.Old Town Lunenburg Historic District, Parks Canada / L'Arrondissement-Historique-du-Vieux-Lunenburg, Parcs Canada

On the East Coast, the fur trade was soon replaced by fishing as the main source of income. Established in 1753 as a British colonial town, Lunenburg Old Town Heritage Conservation District is an exceptional example of a fishing community in the East. Home to mainly German, French and Swiss colonists, Lunenburg is a well-preserved heritage district illustrating 18th century colonization and settlement patterns with outstanding examples of vernacular architecture spanning 240 years. It is closely associated with the fishing and shipbuilding industries. Fort Lennox / Fort-Lennox

Disputes between the American colonies and Canada were frequent. One of the most memorable conflicts between the two countries that occurred was the War of 1812. Built in 1759, Fort Lennox was an important asset for the British during the War of 1812, as this fortification prevented invasions by Americans along the strategic Richelieu River and could repulse an American attack of Lower Canada, thus preventing the Americans from taking Montréal and Québec (the two most important cities in colonial Canada at the time).

Beechey Island / Île BeecheyThroughout the formation of Canada, one goal that remained a priority well into the 19th century was the discovery of the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic. The famed Franklin Expedition of 1845 to search for the passage was tragically lost and later searches for the ship and attempts to solve the mysterious disappearance still continue today. Beechey Island in Resolute, Nunavut, was the starting point for many investigations into the disappearance as it was the last known site visited by Franklin and his men. The gravesites of three of the crew were discovered on the island and forensic analysts gained valuable Public Grounds of the Parliament Buildings / Parc-des-Édifices-du-Parlementinformation into the ill-fated expedition. This event was important for Canada as it eventually resulted in the mapping of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and reinforced Canada's motto of sea to sea to sea.

Leading up to Confederation, the Public Grounds of the Parliament Building National Historic Site of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, constructed in 1859, embody Canada's evolution from colonies to an independent democratic government. 1867 marked the close of Canada's colonial chapter and the opening of a new era as an independent country. What better way to commemorate the birth of our nation than by taking part in the national celebration this July 1st on Parliament Hill in Ottawa?

On Canada Day, take the time to visit some historic places in order to see how our country has developed since the 16th century!