Canada; key historical events
Page last modified 30/7/2020
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17/10/2018, Canada became the second country (after Uruguay in 2013) to legalise the sale of cannabis.
29/1/2017, A White Supremacist student went to a mosque in Quebec and shot six Muslim worshippers. He was later captured by police.
12/12/2003, Paul Martin was elected as 21st President of Canada.
1/4/1999, Nunavut, an Inuit homeland, part of the Northwest territories, was formed.
7/12/1989. A gunman claiming to hate feminists massacred 14 women at the University of Montreal.
30/10/1995. Quebec separatists narrowly lost a referendum to regain independence from Canada.
25/10/1993, In Canada the Liberal Party won a decisive victory in the general election. The Progressive Conservative Party, which had been in office since 1984, retained only 2 seats. The Bloc Quebecois became the second-largest Party.
25/6/1993, Kim Campbell (born 1947) became Canada’s first female Prime Minister (Progressive Conservative Party). In October 1993 her Party were defeated in an election by the Liberal Party, led by Jean Chretien, and in December 1993 Campbell resigned as Party leader.
24/2/1993, Brian Mulroney resigned as Canadian Prime Minister.
13/1/1993. Official statistics from Canada showed that Chinese was the country’s third most common language, after English and French.
13/12/1992, KC Irving, Canadian industrialist, died (born 14/3/1899).
12/11/1992, In northern Canada, a referendum amongst the Inuit people produced a majority for a semi-autonomous territory to be called Nunavut.
17/12/1991, Joseph Robert Smallwood, Canadian politician who took Newfoundland into the Canadian Federation in 1949 and became its first Prime Minister, died just before his 91st birthday.
11/7/1990, Conflict between indigenous Mohawk Indians and the Quebec provincial police erupted in the small town of Oka, population 3,000. The dispute was sparked by a proposal to build a golf course in land claimed by the Mohawk, including a Mohawk cemetery. The Mohawk set up barricades and Corporal Marcel Lemay was shot and killed by a Mohawk bullet. The conflict ended on 26/9/1990 when the last remaining 50 Mohawk surrendered and were arrested.
1/1/1987, The town of Frobisher Bay in Canada’s Northwest territories changed its name to Iqaluit. In 1999 it became capital of Nunavut.
15/2/1982, 84 died when a storm wrecked an oil rig off the coast of Newfoundland.
1980, Jean Lessage, Canadian politician, died. He became the Liberal Prime Minister of Quebec in 1960, but was defeated in 1966 by the Union Nationale Party. He retired from leadership of the Party in 1970.
20/5/1980. Quebec voted against seceding from Canada.
18/2/1980, Pierre Trudeau returned to power in the Canadian General Election, after nine months out of office.
31/12/1980, Marshal Mcluhan, Canadian philosopher, died aged 69.
16/8/1979, John George Diefenbaker, Canadian Prime Minister (born 18.9.1895 in rural Ontario) died.
22/5/1979, In Canada, Pierre Trudeau, Liberal, lost the election. Joe Clark became Progressive Conservative Prime Minister of a minority government.
24/1/1978, A Soviet nuclear-powered satellite, Cosmos 954, crashed in north-western Canada, spilling radioactive debris. The Canadian government presented Moscow with a 6 billion dollar bill for the clean-up, of which Moscow eventually paid half.
21/11/1977, Yolande James, Canadian lawyer and politician, was born.
26/8/1977, French was made the only official language of Quebec, Canada, excluding English.
15/11/1976. The secessionist Party Quebecois
27/10/1975, 18 year old Robert Poulin began shooting at the Pius X High School in Ottawa, Canada, killing 1 and injuring 5. He then shot himself.
27/12/1972, Death of Lester Pearson, Canadian politician and Liberal Prime Minister 1963-8.
16/10/1970. State of insurrection proclaimed in
11/10/1970, Quebec Separatists kidnapped Pierre Laporte, Minister of Labour. His body was found on 17/10/1970.
7/1969, The French language was given equal status to English across the country.
1968, The Parti Quebecois was founded by Rene Levesque (1922-1987). This was in response to the refusal of Quebec’s Liberal Party to become more nationalistic.
1968, The Trans-Canada highway was completed/
21/4/1968, Pierre Trudeau succeeded Lester Pearson as Prime Minister of Canada.
30/12/1967, Vincent Massey, Canadian lawyer and diplomat, died aged 80.
31/10/1967, The Expo
’67 exhibition in
25/7/1967, During a State visit to Canada, General Charles de Gaulle of France encouraged French-speaking Quebec citizens to break away; he was rebuked for this breach of etiquette by the Canadian Prime Minister and returned to France.
27/4/1967, The Expo ’67 exhibition opened in
8/11/1965, In Canadian elections, the Liberals under Lester B Pearson became the largest Party with 131 seats, but without an overall majority. The Progressive Conservatives secured 97 seats, Others won 37 seats.
15/2/1965, Canada flew the newly-adopted maple leaf flag for the first time.
15/12/1964, The Canadian parliament voted in favour of a single maple leaf design for the Canadian Flag.
8/4/1963, General election in Canada was won by the Liberals with 129 seats. The Progressive Conservatives won 95 seats, Others won 41 seats.
19/11/1962, The Newfoundland general election was won by the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, led by Joey Smallwood.
18/5/1962, In Canada, the Progressive Conservatives lost their majority in the elections; however John Deifenbaker remained as Prime Minister. The Progressive Conservatives won 116 seats, the Liberals won 100, others 49.
1961, The New Democratic Party was founded, through a merger of the Commonwealth Co-operative Federation and the Canadian Labour Congress.
31/3/1958, General election in Canada. The Progressive Conservatives won a large majority, 208 seats, against the Liberals with 49 seats, and the Co-operative Commonwealth Foundation with 8 seats. John Diefenbaker remained Prime Minister.
10/6/1957, In Canada, Progressive Conservatives won the election with 112 seats. The Liberals got 105 seats, the Cooperative Commonwealth foundation got 25 seats, Others got 23 seats. The Liberal leader, Louis St Laurent, resigned, ending 22 years of Liberal rule, and the Conservative, John Diefenbaker, took office.
1956, The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) was formed, by a merger between the Trades and Labor Congress and the Canadian Congress of Labour.
26/4/1955, Sir Lyman Poore Duff, Canadian jurist (born 7/1/1865 in Meaford, Ontario) died in Ottawa, Ontario.
7/4/1954, The USA announced that, in conjunction with Canada, it would set up a chain of almost 100 radar stations along a 3,000 mile line at the 55th parallel. On 27/9/1954 a second chain of radar stations was announced above the Arctic Circle to warn of enemy aircraft approaching from Russia across the North Pole. This was the Distant Early Warning Line, or DEW; within a few years it was obsolete because missiles would be delivered by rockets not planes.
1953, Large uranium deposits were discovered in Ontario; these would become significant for the world’s emerging nuclear industry.
24/1/1952, Vincent Massey became the first Canadian to be appointed Governor-General of Canada. He remained in post until September 1959.
31/3/1949. Newfoundland, with its dependency Labrador, joined
15/11/1948, W L Mackenzie-King, Prime Minister of Canada, resigned and entered retirement. He was succeeded by Louis St Laurent.
10/9/1948, Margaret Trudeau, former Canadian 1st lady, was born in Vancouver, British Columbia.
1947, Oil was first struck in Alberta, at Leduc, near Edmonton.
1942, In Quebec the Bloc Populaire Party was founded. The Party was founded by Liberals who were opposed to Canadian participation in World War Two, and to conscription, and also contained Catholic radicals such as Andre Laurendeau who wanted to base industrial relations on Papal encyclicals and ban foreign capital from Quebec. The Bloc Populaire disintegrated after winning four seats in the 1944 elections.
29/12/1942, Frank Adams, Canadian geologist (born 17/9/1859) died.
7/1/1941, A special committee of the Canadian government recommended that Japanese Canadians not be allowed to volunteer for the armed forces on the grounds of strong public opinion against them.
11/1/1934, Jean Chretien, Canada’s 20th Prime Minister, was born.
1931, The Statute of Westminister made Canada a fully independent State.
31/10/1929, Nova Scotia voted to repeal Prohibition. This left Prince Edward Island as the only ‘dry’ region in Canada.
30/10/1929, General Election in Ontario. The Conservatives, led by Howard Ferguson, won with an increased majority.
27/8/1927, Emily Gowan Murphy (maiden name Ferguson, born 14/3/1868 in Cookstown, Ontario), petitioned the Canadian Government to have women recognised as full legal ‘persons’. She had been instrumental in passing the Dower Act (1911),giving women a share in their husband’s property, and in 1916 Murphy had been appointed as the first woman magistrate in the British Empire. However on her first day as magistrate, a lawyer challenged her appointment as illegal as she was not a ‘person’ under Canadian law. Murphy began a legal battle to overturn this law, petitioning the Canadian Government this day. On 14/3/1928 the Supreme Court of Canada decided against Murphy and four other campaigners, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby, Henrrietta Muir and Louise McKinney. The’Famous Five’ took their case to the British Privy Council, where they finally won on 18/10/1929. Murphy died of diabetes in 1933.
28/6/1926, In Canada, W L MacKenzie King resigned as a result of the Canadian Customs scandal. Arthur Meighen formed a Liberal Government,
2/6/1925. The Canadian government claimed all land between
15/12/1922, Franco-Canadian trade agreement signed.
1/7/1920, Robert Borden, Prime Minister of Canada, resigned due to ill-health. He was succeeded on 10/7/1912 by Arthur Meighen.
1/2/1920, The North West Mounted Police changed their name to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
18/10/1919, Pierre Trudeau, Canadian Liberal
and Prime Minister, was born in
17/2/1919, Sir Wilfird Laurier, Canada’s first French-speaking Prime Minister, died.
29/3/1918, In Quebec, Canada, the Compulsory Military Service Act of September 1917 provoked such severe rioting from this day until 2/4/1917 that 4 civilians were killed.
30/12/1917, Election-related riots in Quebec; city placed under martial law.
22/2/1911, Canada voted to remain a part of the
1/6/1909, The Seattle World Fair opened.
22/5/1906, The last British troops left the Dominion of Canada.
30/8/1905, The Province of Alberta was constituted a province of Canada, created out of part of the North West Territories. Edmonton was chosen as the provincial capital, causing a rapid growth in the city’s size.
1/9/1904, Earl Grey was appointed Governor-General of Canada.
23/7/1900. Canada forbade immigration of paupers and criminals.
26/4/1900, Major fire in Ottawa and Hull area of Canada; 12,000 made homeless.
31/3/1897, Gold was discovered in The Klondike, Canada.
17/8/1896. Gold was discovered at Bonanza Creek on the Klondike River in Canada’s Yukon Territory. This led to the great Gold Rush of 1898, in which the city of Dawson grew to over 25,000 people.
6/6/1891, Sir John Alexander Macdonald, first Prime Minister of Canada, died.
31/5/1891, Sir Antoine Dorion, Canadian politician, died (born 17/1/1816).
1887, The Canadian Commercial Union movement proposed an economic union with the USA. However there were fears that this would lead to total union with, and thereby political dominance by, the USA.
16/11/1885, Louis Riel, leader of the Canadian Metis Rebellion, was hanged by the British.
9/12/1882, Sir Hugh Allan, Canadian financier, died in Edinburgh (born 29/9/1810 in Saltcoats, Ayrshire).
1880, The contract for construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway was signed (ratified by the Canadian Parliament in 1881),
9/5/1880, George Brown, Canadian statesman, died (born 29/11/1918).
1879, Canada, under a Conservative government, raised customes duties against imports from the US, to protect Canadian industry.
1878, The Liberal Prime Minister, A. Mackenzie, was defeated.
20/6/1877, The first commercial telephone service in Canada was started by Hugh Cossart Baker, in Hamilton, Ontario.
1873, The Conservative Prime Minister, Sir John Macdonald, was defeated, over the Pacific Railway affair.
1/7/1873, Prince Edward Island was made part of the Dominion of Canada.
23/5/1873. The Royal North West Mounted Police were established in Canada. Their name was changed to The Royal Canadian Mounted Police on 1 February 1920.
10/5/1873, Sir George Cartier, Canadian statesman, died (born 6/9/1814).
1871, Canada signed the Treaty of Washington with the USA, settling fisheries rights and the usage of certain canals.
12/5/1870, Manitoba, previously called the Red River Colony and controlled by the Hudson Bay Company, was bought by Canada and made a province.
9/4/1869, The Hudson Bay Company ceded its territory to Canada.
28/1/1868, Sir Edmund Head, British colonial Governor of Canada, died (born 1805).
1/7/1867. Britain granted Canada self-governing dominion status. Britain still maintained control over foreign policy. The Dominion of Canada was set up by the British North America Act. It comprised four million people and four provinces, Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.
29/3/1867, The British North America Act created the dominion of Canada, comprising the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
20/11/1863, James Bruce, Earl of Elgin, Governor of Canada 1847-54, died in Dharmsala, India (born 20/7/1811 in London, England).
17/9/1859, Frank Adams, Canadian geologist (died 29/12/1942) was born.
9/12/1858, Robert Baldwin, Canadian statesman, died; born in York (now Toronto), 12/5/1804
7/8/1858, Ottawa was selected as capital of Canada.
2/8/1858, British Columbia was constituted a British Colony; it became part of the Dominion of Canada in 1871.
26/6/1854, Robert Borden, Canadian politician, was born in Grand Pre, Nova Scotia.
1849, A.T.Galt of the Montreal Tory Party issued the Annexation Manifesto, calling for the USA to take over the Canadian Colonies. The Canadian economy had been suffering since Britain ended its colonial trading preferneces. However the Canadian French were strongly opposed, and the US showed little interest, so the policy was abandoned.
24/11/1848, William Fielding, Canadian politician, was born.
20/11/1841, Sir Wilfird Laurier, Canada’s first French-speaking Prime Minister, was born.
13/6/1841, The first Canadian Parliament opened, at Ottawa.
23/7/1840, London announced that Canada was to be a self-governing union.
10/2/1840, An Act was passed reuniting the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, 50 years after they were divided by Britain.
14/12/1837, British troops crushed a rebellion in Canada.
27/12/1823, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Canadian politician, was born.
6/8/1820, Lord Strathcona, Canadian businesman, was born.
29/11/1818, George Brown, Canadian statesman, was born (died 9/5/1880).
6/9/1817, Sir Alexander Galt, Canadian statesman, was born (died 19/9/1893).
17/1/1816, Sir Antoine Dorion, Canadian politician, was born (died 31/5/1891).
11/1/1815, Sir John Alexander, Canada’s first Prime Minister, was born.
6/9/1814, Sir George Cartier, Canadian statesman, was born (died 10/5/1873).
29/9/1810, Sir Hugh Allan, Canadian financier, was born in Saltcoats, Ayrshire (died 9/12/1882 in Edinburgh)
10/11/1808, Guy Dorchester, British Governor of Canada, died (born 3/9/1724).
12/5/1804, Robert Baldwin, Canadian statesman, was born in York (now Toronto); died 9/12/1858.
10/5/1798, George Vancouver, British explorer who surveyed the Pacific coast of America, died.
1794, The city of Toronto was founded by Governor Simcoe, on the site of an American-Indian village of the same name.
1794, Fort Augustus was established on the site of what is now Edmonton, Alberta.
24/5/1793, The British recaptured the archipelago of St Pierre et Miquelon, off Canada, which was a severe blow to the French cod fishing fleet.
1791, The Constitutional Act set aside one seventh of the public land in Upper and Lower Canada for the support of the Protestant clergy. In practice these lands served to enrich the already-wealthy clerical elite whilst beong of no benefit to lower-status clergy, and were secularised in 1841.
19/3/1791, French and English speaking settlers in Canada were granted equal rights.
28/10/1790, The Nootka Sound Convention, between Britain and Spain. Spain, claiming the entire Pacific coastline of North America, had seized four British ships at Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island, Canada. Britain disputed the Spanish claim because Spain had not actually settled the coastline it claimed; at the Convention, Spain backed down, opening up the area to British settlement.
3/6/1789, Alexander Mackenzie set out to explore the Mackenzie River by canoe from central Canada to the Arctic Ocean.
1783, About 50,000 ‘Loyalists’ arrived in Canada, having left the newly-independent United States of America to live in the British colony of Canada.
11/5/1783, The first British-loyalist refugees from the newly-independent United States of America arrived at the estuary of the St John’s River, Canada, having set sail from New York on 16/4/1783. They founded the city of St Johns.
11/7/1776. Explorer Captain James Cook set sail from Plymouth on his third and last voyage of discovery. He was looking for a passage around the north west side of America from the Pacific side.
1774, Spanish explorer Perez made the first visit by a European to what is now British Columbia.
22/6/1774, The Quebec Act received Royal Assent. This safeguarded the French-speaking inhabitants of Quebec the right to maintain their own langiage and customes, legal and religious, within a British-governed Canada,
10/2/1763. France ceded Canada to Britain at the Treaty of Paris. See 26/7/1758 and 13/9/1759. The same treaty gave Florida to Britain in exchange for Britain returning Cuba, which it had invaded on 12/8/1762, to Spain; Spain also regained Louisiana and the Philippines. Britain gained all of America east of the Mississippi. Britain also gained Minorca, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Tobago, St Vincent, Grenada, Dominica, and Senegal.
8/9/1760. The French surrendered Montreal to the British under General Jeffrey Amherst. This completed the British conquest of Canada. Britain had declared war in France in 1756 as part of the Seven Years War; Amherst won in Canada in 1758 when he took the French fortress at Louisbourg, opening up the way to Montreal.
13/9/1759. General James Wolfe killed in the siege of Quebec; in a fight on the Plains of Abraham near the city, although the British won the siege. See 26/7/1758 and 10/2/1763. The French commander, Louis Montcalm, was also killed, dying of his wounds on 14/9/1759. The British won the surrender of Quebec on 18/9/1759.
24/7/1759, In Canada, the British captured Fort Niagara from the French.
26/7/1758. A British force authorised by William Pitt to attack the French in North America had its first success with the capture of Louisburg. See 13/9/1759 and 10/2/1763.
22/6/1758, George Vancouver, the explorer who gave his name to the city of Vancouver, Canada, was born in Kings Lynn, England.
2/6/1758, A British war fleet anchored in Gabarus Bay, off Canada, to fight the French.
28/5/1758, Amherst, Wolfe, and Lawrence arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia, see 19/2/1758.
19/2/1758, The British General Amherst, recalled from Germany by Pitt, sailed this day from Portsmouth with Brigadier-General Lawrence and Brigadier James Wolfe, for Canada, to pursue the war against the French. See 28/5/1758.
22/6/1757, George Vancouver, English naval captain who surveyed the Pacific coast of North America, was born in Kings Lynn, Norfolk.
1756, Martin Frobisher explored Newfoundland.
9/7/1749, The British founded the naval settlement of Halifax, Nova Scotia, as an answer to the French base of Louisburg.
11/2/1747, A combined force of French and American Indians under Captain Coulon de Villiers attacked the British at Grand Pre, Nova Scotia.
3/9/1724, Guy Dorchester, British Governor of Canada, was born (died `10/11/1808).
28/11/1698, Frontenac, French colonial Governor of Canada, died. He was very much mourned by the French Canadians.
6/7/1696, Frontenac, French colonial Governor of Canada, left Lachine for a campaign against the Iroquois people. However the Iroquois abandoned their villages and pursuit of them proved impracticable so on 10/8/1696 Frontenac left the area.
1691, Henrey Kelsey of the Hudson Bay Company reached what is now the eastern border of Alberta.
5/8/1689, Massacre of Lachine, Canada.
8/1/1679, La Salle, French explorer, reached the Niagara Falls.
12/9/1672, Frontenac was appointed as French colonial Governor of Canada, to succeed de Courcelle. This day Frontenac arrived in Quebec. However he was to prove too independent-minded and expansionist for the comfort of France.
2/5/1670, Charles II chartered the Hudson Bay Company.
1669, The French discovered Lake Erie. Penetration by Europeans into this area had been delayed by hostile Iriquois Indians.
18/5/1642. Montreal in Canada was founded.
1639, The earliest European settlement in New Brunswick, on the Bay of Chaleur, was founded by the French.
25/12/1635, The explorer Samuel de Champlain died (born ca.1567).
20/7/1629, English adventurer Sir David Kirke seized Quebec from the French.
23/1/1622, William Baffin, British explorer who searched for the North West passage and gave his name to Baffin Island and Baffin Bay, died.
28/7/1615, Samuel de Champlain discovered Lake Huron.
1611, The French discovered Lake Ontario.
23/6/1611. The navigator Henry Hudson and eight of his men were cast adrift in a small boat in Hudson Bay after the crew mutinied on his ship Discoverie; they were never seen again.
3/8/1610, Henry Hudson discovered Hudson Bay.
5/7/1610, John Guy set sail from Bristol with 39 other colonists, for Newfoundland.
17/4/1610, Henry Hudson set sail from England aboard The Discovery to attempt to find a North West Passage to the Orient.
3/7/1608.The French explorer Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Quebec. See 1535.
1605, French colonists founded Port Royal, Nova Scotia.
20/7/1605, French cartographer Samuel de Champlain reached Cape Cod in search of a spot for French setlement in the New World.
9/9/1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert (see 5/8/1583) was drowned when his ship, The Squirrel, sank off The Azores drowning all on board.
5/8/1583. Sir Humphrey Gilbert landed on Newfoundland and claimed it for Britain. He founded the colony of St Johns there.
11/8/1576, Martin Frobisher entered ‘Frobisher Strait’, Baffin Island. Now known as Frobisher Bay, the long inlet was then thought to be a strait separating two islands.
1/9/1557, Jacques Cartier, French explorer of the North American coast and the St Lawrence river (born 1491), died in St Malo.
16/6/1536, The St Lawrence River was named by explorer Jacques Cartier.
1535, Jacques Cartier first visited the site of what is now the city of Quebec. At that time, it was an Indian village called Stadacona. See 3/7/1608.
24/7/1534, Jacques Cartier landed in Canada, claiming the territory for France.
10/5/1534, Jacques Cartier explored Newfoundland while searching for the Northwest Passage.
20/4/1534, Jacques Cartier sailed from St Malo, to explore the Canadian coast.
21/10/1520, The islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon were discovered by Portuguese explorer João Álvares Fagundes off Newfoundland. He named them "Islands of the 11,000 Virgins" in honour of Saint Ursula.
6/8/1497. The Genoese navigator John Cabot returned from an expedition across the Atlantic. King Henry VII financed his travels. Though he was Genoese and had Venetian citizenship, Cabot came to England in 1487 to raise support for a transatlantic voyage and settled in Bristol. He sailed from Bristol on 2/5/1497 and landed on 24/6/1497 on the coast of Labrador. There he planted the Tudor banner, in defiance of the Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided up the western world between Spain and Portugal (see 6/12/1492, Papal backing for gold to finance a war against the Moslems). Under this treaty, signed on 7/6/1494, all land west of a line in the western Atlantic would belong to Spain; any land east of it would be Portuguese. He explored the coastline from Labrador to Cape Breton.
24/6/1497, John Cabot, in his exploration of North America, arrived at Cape Breton Island.
2/5/1497, John Cabot set sail from Bristol.
31/12/1491, Jacques Cartier, French explorer of the St Lawrence area of north America, was born in St Malo, northern France.