Important Dates in Canadian History

Canada is renowned for being a peaceful country, but it wasn’t always so. As early as the 1500s, the British and French raced to claim land in the Americas. As they both arrived at Canada’s East coast, a series of battles and struggles ensued as each side tried to hold their ground. In the end, the British succeeded, but eventually allowed French Canadians to retain their cultural roots. Today, Canada is a far more tolerant, multi-cultural country that takes care to remember and learn from its turbulent past.

  • 1000 – The Vikings travelled and settled in Canada. They reached the Eastern tip of Canada and called it Vinland (now known as Newfoundland and Labrador).
  • 1497 – John Cabot (from Genoa) sails to Newfoundland on behalf of England and claims it as English territory.
  • 1534 – Jacques Cartier, an explorer from France, reaches the Eastern Canadian coastline, and finally claims the Gaspé Peninsula as French territory.
  • 1541 – Cartier returns once again, this time founding a settlement in Canada. Significantly, this is the first settlement belonging to the French in the Americas.
  • 1608 – Samuel de Champlain, a prominent French explorer, establishes the first permanent French colony in Quebec, and Quebec City.
  • 1612 – Champlain becomes the Governor of an area then known as Nouvelle France (New France).
  • 1615 – European Christian missionaries begin attempting to convert the Natives (who had been living there before 600 AD) to their religion.
  • 1670 – The Hudson’s Bay Company receives a charter from the English King. It allows them to have a monopoly over fur trade in the Hudson Bay area.
  • 1693 – English troops reclaim the formerly French Fort Albany.
  • 1710 – Port Royal becomes English territory. Over the next several years, the English gain more and more power over the French.
  • 1758 – The British take over Fort Louisbourg from French troops.
  • 1759 – The Battle of the Plains of Abraham ends with the French surrendering to the British.
  • 1763 – New France is officially declared a British colony.
  • 1774 – British Parliament declares that French Canadians shall have the right to keep their French heritage in terms of religion, language, and even civil law.
  • 1778 – Captain James Cook heads on an exploration of Canada’s west coast, along Vancouver, past Alaska, and finally ending near Russia.
  • 1783 – The U.S.-Canadian border is officially established, running between Lake of the Woods to the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 1791 – Upper and Lower Canada are established as two distinct areas with separate Assemblies.
  • 1812 – The U.S. wages war on Britain and invades Canada.
  • 1814 – A treaty signed by the British and Americans in Ghent, Belgium, officially marks the end of the war.
  • 1840 – The Act of Union brought Upper and Lower Canada together for the Province of Canada.
  • 1867 – The Dominion of Canada is formed, consisting of Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.
  • 1885 – Workers complete the Canadian Pacific Railway.
  • 1896 – The Klondike Gold Rush in the Yukon attracts thousands of people.
  • 1899 ­– Seven thousand Canadians head to the Boer War that pits Britain against the Dutch in South Africa.
  • 1914 – World War I breaks out and Canadian soldiers join the British troops.
  • 1939 – World War II erupts, and once again Canadian soldiers are called upon to join the fray.
  • 1960 – Quebec government leaders surreptitiously sweep French Canadians into a move to gain independence for their province. This sentiment continues to present day.
  • 1969 – Federal authorities declare that Canada will be a bilingual country, with English and French as her two official languages.
  • 1982 – Canadians enjoy more rights and freedoms with an updated Constitution Act, along with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • 1993 – Canada elects its first and only female Prime Minister, Kim Campbell. She remains in office for just over four months.
  • 1999 – A new territory in the Arctic named Nunavat is created.
  • 2000 – The terms of the Quebec separation are outlined by Clarity Bill.
  • 2003 – Canada refuses to join the war in Iraq.
  • 2010 – Canada wins enough gold medals at the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver to set a new record.

Additional Information

  • Quebec History – Learn all about the Canada’s long history with the French, and how their culture became integrated into Canadian society.
  • Canada’s Past – Follow the history of Canada, from the first Natives who settled there, to its current booming modernization.
  • John Cabot – Read about the Genoese, John Cabot, who left his homeland to explore the Americas for Henry VII.
  • Jacques Cartier – Jacques Cartier is remembered so vividly in Canada, that a major bridge at Montreal Island is named after him.
  • On the Plains of Abraham – Read a soldier’s perspective of what life was like in the war of 1759.
  • Changing Canada – Explore how war, politics and alliances helped to change Canada through the centuries.
  • Act of Union – See how the Act of Union came about to unite Upper and Lower Canada as one force.
  • The Klondike Gold Rush – Read how the gold rush towards the Yukon started and how it took people by storm.
  • The Boer War – Trace the path of the Canadian soldiers who volunteered to fight in South Africa alongside the British.
  • Vimy Ridge – The battle fought at Vimy Ridge in France during WWI was a particularly important milestone in Canadian history.

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