Timeline of Canadian history

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This is a brief timeline of the history of Canada, comprising important social, economic, political, military, legal, and territorial changes and events in Canada and its predecessor states.


Year Date Event Ref.
to 14,000 BCE At some unknown time prior to this date, Paleo-Indians moved across the Beringia land bridge from eastern Siberia into northwest North America, settling in some areas of Alaska and the Yukon,[1] but are blocked from further travel south into the continent by extensive glaciation.[2][3]
14,000 BCE Glaciers that covered Canada began melting, allowing Paleo-Indians to move south and east into Canada and beyond.[4]
3,000–2,000 BCE The Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands begin to cultivate different types of squash. [5]
3,000 BCE Paleo-Eskimos begin to settle the Arctic regions of North America from Siberia. [6]

8th century

Year Date Event Ref.
796 CE Council of Three Fires (also known as the Three Fires Confederacy) is formed. [7]

9th century

10th century

Year Date Event Ref.
1000 A short-lived Norse settlement is founded at L'Anse aux Meadows. It is possibly connected with the attempted colony of Vinland, established by Leif Erikson around the same period or, more broadly, with Norse exploration of the Americas. [8][9]

11th century

12th century

Year Date Event Ref.
1142 31 August The Iroquois Confederacy (also known as the League of Peace and Power) is formed. [10]

13th century

14th century

15th century

Year Date Event Ref.
1497 24 June Genoese navigator John Cabot lands the Matthew of Bristol somewhere on the northern Atlantic coast of North America, claiming the land for England. The precise location of Cabot's landing is widely debated but generally believed to be on Newfoundland. [11]

16th century

Year Date Event Ref.
1534 24 July Explorer Jacques Cartier claims the Gaspé Peninsula for France. [12]

17th century

Year Date Event Ref.
1605 French colonists establish the first permanent European settlement in the future Canada at Port-Royal, founding the colony that would become known as Acadia. [13]
1608 3 July Quebec City founded, becoming the capital of New France. [14]
1634 4 July Trois-Rivières founded, becoming the second permanent settlement in New France. [15]
1642 17 May Fort Ville-Marie -(Old Montreal) founded with the majority of immigrants coming directly from France led by Paul de Chomedey and Jeanne Mance, a lay woman. [16]
1666 First census of North America released. [17]
1670 2 May Hudson's Bay Company formed creating a monopoly over the region (Rupert's Land). [18]

18th century

Year Date Event Ref.
1701 4 August The Great Peace of Montreal, between New France and 39 First Nations, is finalized. [19]
1713 11 April The War of the Spanish Succession is ended by the Treaty of Utrecht. France cedes Acadia to Great Britain and renounces claims to some British territories in Canada, as well as its claim to a monopoly of trade with the indigenous population, but retains control of Île Royale colony (present-day Cape Breton Island and Prince Edward Island). [20]
1749 21 June Halifax is founded and settled by the British. The indigenous Mi'kmaq believe Britain's unilateral action violates treaties signed after Father Rale's War in 1726, starting Father Le Loutre's War in which British colonists drive French and Mi'kmaq inhabitants from peninsular Nova Scotia but are repelled from Acadian settlements further north (present-day New Brunswick). [21][22]
1755 11 August British Brigadier-General Charles Lawrence orders the Expulsion of the Acadians. Over the next decade an estimated 11,400 French Catholics are deported to the Thirteen Colonies and Europe. Many settle in Louisiana. [23]
1758 8 June – 26 July The French naval fortress at Louisbourg is sieged for a second time by the British, having been returned to the French after a previous occupation in 1745. After being used to stage attacks on French Canada the following year, British soldiers reduce the fortress to rubble to prevent its return to the French a second time. [24][25]
1759 13 September A three-month British siege of Quebec City culminates in the pivotal Battle of the Plains of Abraham just outside the city's walls. Both the British and French commanders are killed in the battle. Following a decisive British victory, the French evacuate the city. [26]
1763 10 February The Seven Years' War is ended by the Treaty of Paris. France cedes New France to Great Britain, its colony Canada becoming the British Province of Quebec, and its remaining maritime colonies annexed by Nova Scotia. [27]
1769 14 July St. John's Island is partitioned from Nova Scotia, becoming a separate colony from the mainland. The colony is renamed Prince Edward Island in 1798. [28]
1784 18 June New Brunswick and Cape Breton Island are partitioned from Nova Scotia, becoming separate colonies. Cape Breton re-joins Nova Scotia in 1820. [29]
1791 The Constitutional Act of 1791 divides the Province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada (modern-day Ontario and Quebec). [30]

19th century

Year Date Event Ref.
1813 21–22 June During the War of 1812, Laura Secord learns of an American plan to launch a surprise attack on British forces and walks 20 miles to warn the defenders. The British defeat the American invaders at the Battle of Beaver Dams on 24 June. [31]
1818 20 October The London Convention is signed, setting the boundary between the United States and British North America to the 49th parallel from the Northwest Angle in Minnesota west to the continental divide of the Rocky Mountains, and establishing joint control of the Oregon Country. [32]
1829 6 June Shanawdithit, the last known living member of the Beothuk people native to Newfoundland, dies; she was about 29 years old. [33]
1846 15 June The Oregon boundary dispute is settled with the signing of the Oregon Treaty, extending the boundary between British North America and the United States along the 49th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the Juan de Fuca Strait, and defining the maritime boundary to the Pacific Ocean. [34]
1864 1 – 9 September The Charlottetown Conference, the first of several meetings to discuss a Maritime Union and Canadian Confederation, is held in Charlottetown. [35]
1867 1 July The British North America Act, 1867, divides the Province of Canada into Ontario and Quebec and joins them with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to form a confederated state called the Dominion of Canada. [36][37]
1869–1870 11 October–12 May A group of Métis led by Louis Riel mount the Red River Rebellion against Canadian intrusion and form the Red River Colony. The Canadian government regains control after acceding to many of Riel's demands, but he flees into exile in the United States after the government refused to grant him amnesty. [38]
1870 15 July Concluding a series of agreements between Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Hudson's Bay Company, Canada acquires Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory, forming the North-West Territories. In the aftermath of the Red River Rebellion, Manitoba is subdivided from the new territory in the area around Winnipeg, becoming Canada's fifth province. Land rights are granted to the Métis. [39][40]
1871 20 July The colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island amalgamate and then enter Confederation as the Province of British Columbia, Canada's the sixth province. [41]
1873 1 July Prince Edward Island enters Confederation as the seventh province. [42]
1880 1 September The British Arctic Territories are ceded to Canada, becoming part of the North-West Territories. [43]
1885 26 March – 3 June Several hundred Catholic Francophone Métis led by Louis Riel and supported by Cree fighters mount the North-West Rebellion and establish the Provisional Government of Saskatchewan. Riel is captured at the Battle of Batoche (9–12 May), tried for treason, and hanged on 16 November 1885. Francophones bitterly denounce the sentence and Canada becomes deeply polarized along ethno-religious lines. [44][45]
7 November The transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway, then the longest in the world, is completed. [46]

20th century

Year Date Event Ref.
1905 1 September Alberta and Saskatchewan are partitioned out of the Northwest Territories to become the eighth and ninth provinces of Canada. [47]
1910 4 May Royal Canadian Navy is established. [48]
1914 4 August Great Britain declares war on Germany, bringing Canada into the First World War. [49]
1917 9–12 April The four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fight together for the first time in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which becomes celebrated as a national symbol of achievement and sacrifice and a formative milestone in the development of Canada's national identity. [50]
6 December An explosion caused by an accidental collision between two merchant ships, one filled with explosives for the war, occurs in Halifax Harbour, resulting in 2000 people dead and 9000 injured. [51]
1918 24 May Women gain the right to vote in federal elections. [52][53]
19 September Canadian Air Force (after 1920, Royal Canadian Air Force) is established. [54]
1919 Canada sends a delegation to the Paris Peace Talks, the conference resolving war issues. Canada signs the Versailles treaty as part of the British Empire, with parliament's approval. [55]
1920 Canada is admitted as a full member of the League of Nations, independently of Britain. It joins the League Council (governing board) in 1927. Canada plays a minor role and opposes sanctions or military action by the League. The League is virtually defunct by 1939. [56]
1921 28 December The Queenston-Chippawa Hydroelectric Power Plant, at the time the largest power plant in the world, opens at Queenston, Ontario, downstream of Niagara Falls. The plant was renamed Sir Adam Beck Generating Station in 1950 after Adam Beck, the first chairman of Ontario Hydro. [57]
1926 25 June – 14 September A constitutional crisis, known as the King-Byng Affair, is precipitated when Governor General Byng refused Prime Minister King's request to dissolve parliament and call an election, instead asking opposition leader Meighen to form a government, which in turn was quickly defeated. King framed the dispute as one of Britain, represented by the Governor General, interfering with Canadian affairs. Consequently, the affair played a role in the Balfour Declaration of 1926, in which each Dominion of the British Empire was declared to be of equal status with Britain. [58]
1927 25 November Canada appoints Vincent Massey as its first fully accredited envoy to a foreign capital. [59]
1929 1929 - 1939 Great Depression in Canada begins, resulting in widespread poverty and unemployment for the next decade. [60]
1931 29 September Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers open fire on a demonstration of striking miners in Estevan, Saskatchewan, killing 3 and injuring many others. The event is later known as the Estevan riot. [61]
11 December The Statute of Westminster 1931 is enacted in Britain, officially ending the power of the British parliament to pass and nullify laws in a Dominion without the Dominion's request and consent. The statute formally recognized the de facto independence attained by Canada following the First World War. [62]
1939 10 September Canada, with its parliament's support, enters the Second World War by declaring war on Germany. The Dominion of Newfoundland had entered the war as a British colony upon the United Kingdom's declaration of war one week earlier. [63][64]
1939 1939 - 1945 During the war, the government mobilizes Canadian money, supplies, and volunteers to support Britain while boosting the economy and maintaining home front morale. Canada plays a military role protecting convoys against German submarines and fighting the German Army in Western Europe, while helping to liberate the Netherlands. Canada expands its small navy into the third largest in the world, after the U.S. and U.K. It had 363 ships and 100,000 sailors (of whom 6700 were women.) [65][66]
1945 24 October Canada joins the United Nations, seeking to play a world role as a "middle power", with interest in the UN Charter and in relief agencies. [69]
1949 31 March Newfoundland enters Confederation as the tenth province following a pair of contentious referenda on whether the island should remain a British Crown Colony, become fully independent, or join Canada. [70]
1959 27 June The Saint Lawrence Seaway, a joint project between Canada and the United States, is officially opened. [71]
1960 1 July First Nations people are granted the right to vote in federal elections without having to give up their treaty rights and Indian Status [72]
1967 Canada celebrates its centennial. [73]
27 April Expo 67 opens in Montreal and goes on to be considered most successful World's Fair of the 20th century and a landmark moment in Canadian history. [74][75]
1970 5 October The government invokes the War Measures Act to apprehend the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ), a separatist paramilitary group in Quebec that was responsible for over 160 violent incidents that killed eight people and in October 1970 had kidnapped a British official (later released) and Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte, who they killed. The FLQ collapses. [76]
1980 20 May A referendum on Quebec independence is held, resulting in a majority (59.56%) of the province voting to remain in Canada. [77]
1982 17 April Canada achieves total independence from Great Britain through Patriation of its Constitution with the enactment of the Constitution Act, 1982 (which includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms), by royal proclamation. The Government of Quebec refuses to sign the deal and attempts to veto the Act; the Supreme Court of Canada rules that Quebec's assent is not required. [78][79]
1990 11 July – 26 September The Oka Crisis occurs as indigenous Mohawk activists protest the construction of a golf course on a burial ground, barricading roads and the Mercier Bridge. In August, after a series of violent standoffs between protesters and the Sûreté du Québec (SQ, Quebec's provincial police) which led to the death of one officer, Premier Robert Bourassa requests aid from the Canadian Armed Forces. In September, facing military invasion of their community, the protesters surrender and many leaders are arrested. Construction of the golf course is later cancelled. [80]
1995 30 October Another referendum on Quebec independence is held. A majority (50.58%) of the province votes to remain in Canada. [81]
1999 1 April Nunavut is partitioned from the Northwest Territories to become Canada's third territory, following a series of plebiscites in 1982 and 1992, and establishment of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement in 1993. [82]

21st century

Year Date Event Ref.
2005 20 July The Civil Marriage Act legalizes same-sex marriage throughout Canada. [83]
2009 Indigenous Wet'suwet'en activists found the Unist'ot'en Camp near Houston, British Columbia to protest and block construction of several planned oil pipelines through their unceded territory. [84]
2012 February Students in Quebec protest and stop proposed increases in university tuition. [85]
4 May The Royal Canadian Mint strikes the last Canadian penny. The coin is removed from circulation a few months later, though existing pennies remain legal tender. [86]
2018 17 October The Cannabis Act becomes law, making recreational cannabis use legal throughout the country. Canada is the second country (after Uruguay in 2013) to legalize recreational cannabis use nationwide. [87]

See also


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Further reading

  • Francis, RD; Jones, Richard; Smith, Donald B (2009). Journeys: A History of Canada. Nelson Education. ISBN 978-0-17-644244-6.
  • Crowley, Terence Allan; Terry Crowley; Rae Murphy (1993). The Essentials of Canadian History: Pre-colonization to 1867—the Beginning of a Nation. Research & Education Assoc. ISBN 978-0-7386-7205-2.
  • Felske, Lorry William; Beverly Jean Rasporich (2004). Challenging Frontiers: the Canadian West. University of Calgary Press. ISBN 978-1-55238-140-3.
  • Hill, Brian H. W. Canada, 875-1973: A Chronology and Fact Book (1973)
  • Lower, Arthur R. M. (1958). Canadians in the Making: A Social History of Canada. Longmans, Green.
  • Morton, Desmond (2001). A short history of Canada. McClelland & Stewart Limited. ISBN 978-0-7710-6509-5.
  • Morton, Desmond (1999). A Military History of Canada : from Champlain to Kosovo. McClelland & Stewart Limited. ISBN 978-0-7710-6514-9.
  • Norrie, Kenneth, Douglas Owram and J.C. Herbert Emery. (2002) A History of the Canadian Economy (4th ed. 2007)
  • Riendeau, Roger E. (2007). A Brief History of Canada. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4381-0822-3.
  • Taylor, Martin Brook; Owram, Doug (1994). Canadian History. 1 & 2. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-5016-8, ISBN 978-0-8020-2801-3
  • Taylor, Martin Brook; Douglas Owram (1994). Canadian History: A Reader's Guide: Beginnings to Confederation. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-6826-2.
    • Martin Brook Taylor; Douglas Owram (1994). Canadian history. 2. Confederation to the present. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-7676-2.
Primary sources
  • Reid, J.H.Stewart ed.; et al. (1959). A Source-book of Canadian History: Selected Documents and Personal Papers. Longmans Canada.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)

External links

  • Canada Year Book (CYB) annual 1867–1967
  • Events of National Historic Significance[permanent dead link]
  • National Historic Sites of Canada
  • Persons of National Historic Significance in Canada[permanent dead link]
  • The Dictionary of Canadian Biography
  • Canada`` – UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • Canadian Studies – Guide to the Sources
  • The Historica-Dominion Institute
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