- Published on Amazon.com
If you're looking for a definitive history of Canada, this is an excellent choice. It was recommended to me by someone far more experienced at being Canadian than I, someone who is a native-born Canuck of nearly my age as opposed to the nine years I've lived here (although some might argue I've only been a Real Canuck(tm) for about a year, having finally gotten around to becoming a citizen last year.)
It's important to know the history of one's adopted country, mostly because, if I understand just about everyone who was born here correctly, most Canadians know jack about the history of Canada, less than the folks who are fresh out of the citizenship test room. As I understand it, Canadian children were at one time - perhaps still are - taught American history rather than Canadian history, which I still can't wrap my head around. Canada's history is not quite as boring as advertised but still not as exciting as the US's, which is what you expect I guess when your nation was formed more out of bureaucracy and rubber-stamping and piles of paperwork (the "Confederation", 1867) rather than armed rebellion (i.e., the American Revolution). To be fair, it's entirely possible America paved the way for British diplomacy so that by 1867 they realized if a bunch of colonies really want to be an independent nation, to just let them do it without a lot of lip, and maybe you'll have better relations and they'll choose to remain a Commonwealth and they'll all get up really really early in the morning to watch one of your young future kings get married, at least once TV is invented.
So anyway, the Woodcock book...It's a bit old, having been published in 1989, but it's still a very good run-down of what happened from when things were about to go tits-up for the Natives living here with the introduction of the European palefaces, to the present day, about 1988 for Mr. Woodcock, who noted that by 1988 hardly any women were allowed into collegiate engineering programs, leading me to wonder, "The Polytechnique massacre occurred the year after you finished this; it was done by an angry young male wannabe engineer from a country that famously hates women, who massacred *only women* in the engineering program there to make the point that they clearly had gotten in there through some perverse gender-based affirmative action program and *not* because they were all, just throwing this out there, better qualified than he at getting into the program."
But, apart from that, there was little for me to pick at with this book, although the writing style tends to be a bit bland. Just the facts, ma'am. Still, can't argue with the author's research, and through this book I was better able to understand the nature of the "two solitudes" (the English/French divide here), the difficult times for hundreds of years of the settlers in the various provinces or eventual provinces, and just how much less violence there was compared to American history. Which is not to say that Canadians were nearly as polite and tolerant of others - particularly others who weren't like them - back then as they are today, because they're not - but they still managed to kill each other a lot less than Americans did during the same time period, and Canadians at least have the decency to feel really, really guilty about how the Natives were treated, who don't even register on Americans' radar.
'T'would have been nice if it had gone farther than 1989, but there are most likely other books that can cover the massive changes Canada has undergone since 1989. Hell, just ask someone who's been here all his or her life. As for the rest of Canadian history, since there's no one else to ask you've got the Woodcock book to sort it all out for you. Highly recommended for immigrants such as myself, and even more so for the folks who were born here.