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If countries have personalities, Canada is careful and polite, while the U.S. is pushy and loud. When the U.S. decided to separate from England, we did it in five years of bloody warfare; when the Canadians decided to do it, it took 115 years of diplomacy, and the parting could not have been more amicable.
Canada Day, July 1, celebrates the British North America Act of 1867, which granted the Canadians home rule. The BNA Act created the Dominion of Canada by uniting the Province of Canada (modern Ontario and Quebec), the province of New Brunswick, and the province of Nova Scotia. Home rule was not absolute; the Dominion got its own Parliament, but its decisions still needed to be affirmed by the U.K. Parliament. Manitoba joined the Dominion in 1870, followed by British Columbia (1871), Prince Edward Island (1873), and Saskatchewan and Alberta (1905). Newfoundland and Labrador gave up its own claim to nationhood to join Canada in 1949. (The Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon remain territories, not full provinces.)
The Statute of Westminster, in 1931, finally removed the U.K. Parliament from Canada's legislative process. It was not until the Canada Act of 1982, however, that the U.K. relinquished its authority to amend the British North America Act (then renamed the Canada Act). Theoretically, then, until 1982 the U.K. could have said, "Sorry, just kidding -- we're repealing the BNA, you have to go through us now."
Canada maintains strong ties to its mother country. Queen Elizabeth is still the Queen and head of state under Canada's constitution, and a Governor General (currently Michaelle Jean, a Haitian-born woman) represents the Crown in Canada. Canada is also still a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, a group of 53 countries with historical or constitutional ties to the former British Empire.