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[edit]

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

9th century[edit]

10th century[edit]

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[edit]

12th century[edit]

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

13th century[edit]

14th century[edit]

15th century[edit]

Year Date Event Ref.
1497 24 June Navigator John Cabot claims Newfoundland for England. [11]

16th century[edit]

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

17th century[edit]

Year Date Event Ref.
1608 3 July Quebec City founded, becoming the capital of New France. [13]
1634 4 July Trois-Rivières founded, becoming the second permanent settlement in New France. [14]
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. [15]
1666 First census of North America released. [16]
1670 2 May Hudson's Bay Company formed creating a monopoly over the region (Rupert's Land). [17]

18th century[edit]

Year Date Event Ref.
1701 4 August The Great Peace of Montreal, between New France and 39 First Nations, is finalized. [18]
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. [19]
1763 10 February The Seven Years' War is ended by the Treaty of Paris. France cedes New France to Great Britain. [20]
1791 The Constitutional Act of 1791 divides the Province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada (modern-day Ontario and Quebec). [21]

19th century[edit]

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. [22]
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. [23][24]
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. [25]
1870 12 May In the aftermath of the Red River Rebellion, Manitoba is formed from portions of Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory, becoming Canada's fifth province. Land rights are granted to the Métis. [26]
1871 20 July British Columbia enters Confederation as the sixth province. [27]
1873 1 July Prince Edward Island enters Confederation as the seventh province. [28]
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. [29][30]
7 November The transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway, then the longest in the world, is completed. [31]

20th century[edit]

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. [32]
1910 4 May Royal Canadian Navy is established. [33]
1914 4 August Great Britain declares war on Germany, bringing Canada into the First World War. [34]
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. [35]
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. [36]
1918 24 May Women gain the right to vote in federal elections. [37][38]
19 September Canadian Air Force (after 1920, Royal Canadian Air Force) is established. [39]
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. [40]
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. [41]
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. [42]
1927 25 November Canada appoints Vincent Massey as its first fully accredited envoy to a foreign capital. [43]
1929 1929 - 1939 Great Depression in Canada begins, resulting in widespread poverty and unemployment for the next decade. [44]
1931 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. [45]
1939 10 September Canada, with its parliament's support, enters the Second World War by declaring war on Germany, one week after Britain and France. [46]
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. [47]
1939-45 During the war 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.) [50]
1945 24 October Canada joins United Nations, seeking to play a world role as a "middle power", with interest in the UN Charter and in relief agencies. [51]
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. [52]
1959 27 June The Saint Lawrence Seaway, a joint project between Canada and the United States, is officially opened. [53]
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 [54]
1967 Canada celebrates its centennial. [55]
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. [56][57]
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. [58]
1980 20 May A referendum on Quebec independence is held, resulting in a majority (59.56%) of the province voting to remain in Canada. [59]
1982 17 April Canada achieves total independence from Great Britain with the enactment of the Constitution Act, 1982 (which includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms), by royal proclamation. [60]
1995 30 October Another referendum on Quebec independence is held. A majority (50.58%) of the province votes to remain in Canada. [61]

21st century[edit]

Year Date Event Ref.
2005 20 July The Civil Marriage Act legalizes same-sex marriage throughout Canada. [62]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

Primary sources

External links[edit]