Canada is an important producer of natural gas, petroleum, coal and electricity, and is a main supplier of oil, gas and electricity to the United States and coal to Asia, Europe and Latin America. However it is both an importer and exporter of coal, petroleum and petroleum products because it’s most important coal and oil fields are far removed from its industrial centers and many of its oil refineries cannot handle the types of oil produced in Canada. Electric power generation in Canada draws on hydroelectric, nuclear, coal and natural gas, with a small but growing contribution from wind power. Historically, wood fires and human muscles provided the bulk of energy in Canada. The arrival of the horse from Europe by way of Mexico substituted animals for humans in the transportation system, initially to the benefit of the native people, but later to their disadvantage. Subsequent developments in energy sources paralleled and in some cased preceded those in the United States. In 1846, Abraham Gesner built the world’s first plant producing kerosene from coal in Nova Scotia, and in 1853 moved to the United States to build more refineries there.
When the four original provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario joined together to form the Dominion of Canada in 1867, the fathers of Confederation wrote a constitution that created a country with a strong central government and comparatively weak provincial governments. They did so in reaction to the recent Civil war in the United States, where the states are very powerful and the federal government is weak. In doing so, they assigned control over and ownership of natural resources to the provinces. In 1870 the British government transferred the territory controlled by the Hudson’s Bay Company to the new Canadian government control, a huge area of 4 million square kilometers which integrated most of the modern provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. At the time, the major industry in it was the fur trade, which was under federal control, and the Canadian government was unconscious of the enormous mineral wealth it held, particularly the huge quantities of fossil fuels toward the western margins and the hydroelectric potential of the rivers flowing into Hudson Bay. As a result of future developments, this gave the governments of the provinces particularly that of Alberta, far more wealth and power than the founders originally intended.