I will give a brief history of the breed and its standards. There are a number of sites that give a complete history.
The Canadian breed originated in New France (now Quebec) in the mid 1600s from horses sent from King Louis' stables to his nobility. There were a number of shipments of horses from France to Canada over a few years and then the population within Canada started to breed. The horses had to adapt to the harsh climate and conditions and the Canadian horse evolved. They were hardy, easy keepers that had excellent bone, hooves and temperament. The breed was knicknamed "The little iron horse" because it was so hardy and hard working. Over the years, the breed has distinguished itself as being the horse to open up settlement in the new world, a preferred mount during the civil war in the States, an artillery horse during the Boer war etc. With the advent of tractors and trucks and outbreeding to other breeds (notably standardbreds, Morgans, Canadian Pacers) the population dwindled. The federal government had established a herd book in the late 1800's and set a breed standard and breeding farm to try to preserve the breed. In spite of that the population was down to a few hundred animals in the 1970s and the herd book was reopened to reintroduce inspected mares only that fell within breed type and were out of purebred stallions.The book was closed again and remains closed. The breed was listed as endangered by Rare Breeds. Through the efforts of breeders, the breed is slowly recovering and is now listed as rare. However I fear that the recent downturn in the horse market may jeopardize the breed's ability to maintain that status.
In 2002, the federal government passed legislation recognizing the Canadian as the National Horse of Canada and a national heritage symbol.
Simply stated, the breed characteristics are 14-16 hand with weight proportional to size. They are predominately black or bay with browns, chestnuts and very few creams. The have good bone, feet, long luxurious mane and tail, short back, strong muscling, deep girth and breadth of chest. The temperaments are generally calm and intelligent. They are extremely easy keepers with "hooves of steel" often able to go without shoes.
They excel at many disciplines, notably driving (having gone to the Worlds), dressage, English and Western pleasure, farm and logging work including working cattle. Some are doing well in eventing and competitive trail. They truly are a multipurpose breed.
They cross well with other breeds. My favourite cross is Canadian/Arabian and Canadian/Thoroughbred.
My ID photo is our stallion Hawk Hill Bandit Lucan and he is a traditional type Canadian. You can see pictures of more Canadians on our website (we have 13 registered Canadians) at www.hawkhillfarm.ca
More information is available at www.lechevalcanadien.ca
Hawk Hill Canadian Horses