Great ritual dramas (such as those of the British Columbia Kwakiutl people) sometimes took the form of a long cycle encompassing some 4 to 5 months of performance.Subsequent development of drama in Canada, however, was shaped by European rather than by indigenous traditions.

The first significant theatrical events, however, were created by French military and religious visitors and settlers.

The Jesuits sponsored productions of original and classical plays throughout the 17th century, until the controversial suppression of Molière's Theatre, French-Language).

Québec enjoyed little public theatrical entertainment again until after the 1763 Conquest.

Subsequently the British garrison in Montréal revived theatre with, ironically, productions of Molière, and was soon emulated by local francophone groups.

Popular English plays were also performed by the garrisons of Montréal and Québec City; amateur thespian societies were formed, and Jesuit students once more began staging plays in their colleges.

This new theatrical impetus in late 18th-century Québec was matched by developments in Atlantic Canada.Performing in makeshift theatres in taverns and other public buildings, at first with all-male casts, the officers and men of the British garrisons promoted theatre.As Robert Wallace commented in Contemporary Canadian Theatre, "Canada is still in the process of creating itself as a character in the play of world events" but Canadian playwrights begin "to write the land alive." It is a common misconception that theatre on the North American continent began with the arrival of Spanish and French explorers and settlers.Indigenous ceremonials and rituals evidenced a highly sophisticated sense of mimetic art, and occupied a central place in the social and religious activities of their peoples (Indigenous People, Religion).Masks, costumes and properties were used to enhance dialogue, song and chants in performances designed to benefit the community by influencing such crucial matters as the weather, the hunt, or spiritual and physical well-being.