It is little wonder that Canadians are fascinated by tales of ships and the sea. We live in one of the great coastal nations of the world. Our longest boundaries are along three great oceans -- the Arctic, the Atlantic, and the Pacific. Rivers run through the heart of the land, and some of our lakes are giant freshwater seas. About 7.6 per cent of our land mass is covered by fresh water. We are blessed with a very large share of the world's land and an even larger share of the world's fresh and salt water.
The sea is part of our history. Long before Europeans came to our shores, Native peoples sailed our coastlines in canoes and umiaks, and used the bountiful resources in our waters. In the Pacific Northwest, marine resources helped to sustain one of the largest non-agricultural concentrations of population in the world. Between 3,000 and 7,000 years ago, the marine resources of our Atlantic shores sustained the 'maritime archaic' people. There were many other marine hunters in our ancient history, and it was hardly an accident that the Vikings, who crossed the North Atlantic a thousand years ago, met another people who lived by the sea -- the Inuit, who had developed a sophisticated maritime-hunting way of life based on the use of skin-covered boats. Then, in the late 1400s and 1500s, other European newcomers