Timeline of Canadian history


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.

Prehistory


YearDateEventRef.
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 BCEGlaciers that covered Canada began melting, allowing Paleo-Indians to move south and east into Canada and beyond.[4]
3,000–2,000 BCEThe Indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands begin to cultivate different types of squash.[5]
3,000 BCEPaleo-Eskimos begin to settle the Arctic regions of North America from Siberia.[6]

8th century


YearDateEventRef.
796 CECouncil of Three Fires (also known as the Three Fires Confederacy) is formed.[7]

10th century


YearDateEventRef.
900A 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]

12th century


YearDateEventRef.
114231 AugustThe Iroquois Confederacy (also known as the League of Peace and Power) is formed.[10]

15th century


YearDateEventRef.
149724 JuneGenoese 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


YearDateEventRef.
153424 JulyExplorer Jacques Cartier claims the Gaspé Peninsula for France.[12]
1583Explorer Humphrey Gilbert lands in present-day St. John's and lays claim to the island of Newfoundland for the Kingdom of England. He dies at sea and permanent settlement by the British had to await better planned attempts.[13]

17th century


YearDateEventRef.
1605French colonists establish the first permanent European settlement in the future Canada at Port-Royal, founding the colony that would become known as Acadia.[14]
16083 JulyQuebec City founded, becoming the capital of New France.[15]
16344 JulyTrois-Rivières founded, becoming the second permanent settlement in New France.[16]
164217 MayFort 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.[17]
1666First census of North America released.[18]
16702 MayHudson's Bay Company formed creating a monopoly over the region (Rupert's Land).[19]
1690 16-24 October The Battle of Québec was fought between the colonies of New France and Massachusetts Bay, then ruled by the kingdoms of France and England, respectively. It was the first time Québec's defences were tested, with the new Englander's hoping to seize Québec, then the capital of New France. [20]

18th century


YearDateEventRef.
17014 AugustThe Great Peace of Montreal, between New France and 39 First Nations, is finalized.[21]
171311 AprilThe 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).[22]
1749 21 June Halifax is founded and settled by the British, marking the first time that public rather than private capital was used to settle a British colony in the Americas. 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). [23][24][20]
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. [25]
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. [26][27]
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. [28]
176310 FebruaryThe 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.[29]
176914 JulySt. John's Island is partitioned from Nova Scotia, becoming a separate colony from the mainland. The colony is renamed Prince Edward Island in 1798.[30]
1774 Quebec Act of 1774 is passed by the Parliament of Great Britain outlining how the Province of Quebec would be governed as colony, in an attempt to address damage to the economy/society of Quebec. Old boundaries were restored, free practice of Catholicism was guaranteed, and property and civil laws were to be decided according to traditional Canadian laws (thus preserving the Seigneurial system of New France for land ownership), with other matters of law left to English Common Law. The province was left to be governed by a legislative council, with no provision for an elected assembly. [20]
1775 The Invasion of Quebec and the Battle of Quebec take place, during the American Revolutionary War against Great Britain. These became a failed attempt at seizing military control of the British Province of Quebec and convince the French-speaking Canadiens to join the revolution on the side of the Thirteen Colonies. [20]
1782-1783 A preliminary peace treaty between Great Britain and the United States of America is signed. Citing one of the clauses, General George Washington insisted on the return of any present or former slaves. As part of documenting and evacuation of former slaves to British North America, the Book of Negroes was compiled in New York City. Enslaved Africans in America who escaped to the British during the American Revolutionary War became the first settlement of Black Nova Scotians and Black Canadians. [20]
1783 3 September The Treaty of Paris (1783) was signed by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America on September 3, 1783, officially ending the American Revolutionary War. The treaty set the boundaries between the British Empire in North America and the United States of America. Details included fishing rights and restoration of property and prisoners of war. [31]
178418 JuneNew Brunswick and Cape Breton Island are partitioned from Nova Scotia, becoming separate colonies. Cape Breton re-joins Nova Scotia in 1820.[32]
1791The Constitutional Act of 1791 divides the Province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada (modern-day Ontario and Quebec).[33]

19th century


YearDateEventRef.
1811 Settlement began of the Red River Colony, a 300,000 square kilometres (120,000 sq mi; five times that of Scotland) area, by Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk via a land grant from the Hudson's Bay Company, of which he was a part-owner. The territory later became part of Manitoba and the Missouri Territory. [20]
181321–22 JuneDuring 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.[34]
181820 OctoberThe 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.[35]
18296 JuneShanawdithit, the last known living member of the Beothuk people native to Newfoundland, dies; she was about 29 years old.[36]
184615 JuneThe 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. [37]
18641 9 SeptemberThe Charlottetown Conference, the first of several meetings to discuss a Maritime Union and Canadian Confederation, is held in Charlottetown.[38]
18671 JulyThe 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.[39][40]
1869–187011 October–12 MayA group of Métis led by Louis Riel mount the Red River Rebellion against Canadian intrusion and in 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.[41]
187015 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.

[42][43]
187120 JulyThe colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island amalgamate and then enter Confederation as the Province of British Columbia, Canada's the sixth province.[44]
18731 JulyPrince Edward Island enters Confederation as the seventh province.[45]
18801 SeptemberThe British Arctic Territories are ceded to Canada, becoming part of the North-West Territories.[46]
188526 March – 3 JuneSeveral 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.[47][48]
7 NovemberThe transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway, then the longest in the world, is completed.[49]

20th century


YearDateEventRef.
19051 SeptemberAlberta and Saskatchewan are partitioned out of the Northwest Territories to become the eighth and ninth provinces of Canada.[50]
19104 MayRoyal Canadian Navy is established.[51]
19144 AugustGreat Britain declares war on Germany, bringing Canada into the First World War.[52]
19179–12 AprilThe 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.[53]
6 DecemberAn 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.[54]
19181 AprilProhibition in Canada enacted federally by an Order in Council.[55]
24 MayWomen gain the right to vote in federal elections.[56][57]
19 SeptemberCanadian Air Force (after 1920, Royal Canadian Air Force) is established.[58]
1919Canada 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.[59]
Prohibition in Canada ends federally.[60]
1920Canada 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.[61]
192625 June – 14 SeptemberA 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.[62]
192725 NovemberCanada appoints Vincent Massey as its first fully accredited envoy to a foreign capital.[63]
19291929 - 1939Great Depression in Canada begins, resulting in widespread poverty and unemployment for the next decade.[64]
193111 DecemberThe 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.[65]
193910 SeptemberCanada, 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.[66][67]
19391939 - 1945During 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.)[68][69]
[70][71]
19459 NovemberCanada joins the United Nations, seeking to play a world role as a "middle power", with interest in the UN Charter and in relief agencies.[72]
194931 MarchNewfoundland, the last British colony in North America, 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.[73]
195927 JuneThe Saint Lawrence Seaway, a joint project between Canada and the United States, is officially opened.[74]
1960 1 July First Nations people are granted the right to vote in federal elections without having to give up their status and treaty rights. [75]
1967Canada celebrates its centennial.[76]
27 AprilExpo 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.[77][78]
19705 OctoberThe 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.[79]
198020 MayA referendum on Quebec independence is held, resulting in a majority (59.56%) of the province voting to remain in Canada.[80]
1981 Workers in British Columbia Telephone takeover all of the provinces telephone exchanges for five days and run them under workers' control. [81]
198217 AprilCanada 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.[82][83]
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. [84]
199530 OctoberAnother referendum on Quebec independence is held. A majority (50.58%) of the province votes to remain in Canada.[85]
1995 4 September Members of an Indigenous Ojibwe band occupy Camp Ipperwash in southwestern Ontario, on land which had been expropriated from the band for a military base during World War II under the War Measures Act, setting off the Ipperwash Crisis. Two days later, unarmed Ojibwe protester Dudley George is shot and killed by an Ontario Provincial Police officer. [86]
1995 18 August - 17 September Indigenous Shuswap and non-Indigenous supporters fire on Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers after a British Columbia rancher attempts to evict them from land being used for a traditional ceremony, beginning the Gustafsen Lake standoff. After the largest and costliest paramilitary operation in the province's history, the Ts'peten Defenders surrender to police. [87][88]
19991 AprilNunavut 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.[89]

21st century


YearDateEventRef.
200520 JulyThe Civil Marriage Act legalizes same-sex marriage throughout Canada.[90]
2012 February Students in Quebec protest and stop proposed increases in university tuition. [91]
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. [92]
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. [93]
2020 March COVID-19 pandemic hits Canada. The COVID-19 virus originated in China spread in Canada.

See also


References


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Further reading


Primary sources