Timeline: Notable dates in Canada’s history

A Canadian flag attached to a ski pole is waved on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, April 15, 2013.
A Canadian flag attached to a ski pole is waved on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, April 15, 2013. Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

A look at some notable dates in the history of Canada, which marks its 147th birthday July 1.

June 24, 1497 – John Cabot claims a new continent in the name of King Henry VII of England after landing near Labrador.

June 30, 1508 – A detailed map of the New World published in Rome lists for the first time Terra Nova – Newfoundland.

June 11, 1534 – French explorers under Jacques Cartier celebrate Canada’s first Roman Catholic mass, at their camp of Brest on Labrador’s coast.

June 29, 1534 – Cartier sights Prince Edward Island and calls it the “best tempered region one can possibly see.”

Aug. 13, 1535 – Cartier becomes the first European to sail into the St. Lawrence River, which he believes is a route to Asia. Two sons of Iroquois Chief Donnacona, who are guiding Cartier, refer to their native village as Canada, the explorer’s first exposure to the name.

1600 – Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit and Francois Grave du Pont build Canada’s first fortified trading post, at Tadoussac in what is now Quebec.

1606 – Jean de Beincourt, Sieur de Poutrincourt, builds North America’s first water-powered mill, on the Allains River in Acadia, after seeing six men die of exhaustion from grinding grain by hand.

READ MORE: What’s open and closed on Canada Day

July 3, 1608 – Samuel de Champlain founds the settlement of Quebec.

July 30, 1609 – Champlain helps Huron and Algonquins defeat a much larger force of Iroquois, exposing them to firearms for the first time.

June 24, 1611 – English explorer Henry Hudson and his crew are set adrift by other mutinous crew members in the massive bay that now bears Hudson’s name.

June 3, 1620 – The Recollet missionaries lay the cornerstone for Notre Dame des Agnes, the first stone church in Quebec.

June 25, 1625 – Father Nicholas Viel, missionary to the Hurons of Ontario, becomes Canada’s first martyr when he is deliberately drowned in the Ottawa River.

March 16, 1649 – More than 1,000 Iroquois overrun the Huron missions of New France, torturing to death the missionaries who established them.

Aug. 6, 1654 – Fur traders Pierre Esprit Radisson and Medart Chouart des Groseilliers begin their first westward journey.

July 21, 1660 – Canada’s first census puts the population at 3,418.

Feb. 24, 1663 – New France becomes a royal colony of the French crown.

July 7, 1667 – Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy concludes the first genuine French-Iroquois peace treaty in more than five decades of hostilities.

May 2, 1670 – King Charles II of England signs the charter incorporating the Hudson’s Bay trading company.

Aug. 7, 1679 – After being granted permission to explore western North America, Sieur de La Salle launches the Griffon, the first ship to navigate the Great Lakes.

Nov. 19, 1686 – France and England sign the Treaty of Neutrality providing for peace between respective possessions in America and settling the dispute over activities in Hudson Bay.

May 17, 1689 – King William’s War is declared between England and France, which pits New France against New England colonies and their Iroquois allies.

July 19, 1701 – The Iroquois cede territory to England north of Lake Ontario and west of Lake Michigan.

Aug. 4, 1701 – The Iroquois Five Nations sign a peace treaty with New France at Ville-Marie, Que.

April 11, 1713 – Under the Treaty of Utrecht, France recognizes British sovereignty over Hudson Bay, Acadia and Newfoundland. France retains possession of St. Pierre and Miquelon, Ile Royale (Cape Breton) and Ile Saint-Jean (P.E.I.).

Aug. 12, 1728 – Danish sailor Vitus Johassen Bering sails through the strait that now bears his name in an expedition that would prove that Asia and North America are some 60 kilometres apart.

June 8, 1731 – De la Verendrye leaves Montreal with an expedition to establish new trading areas in the west.

1739 – A census of Canada records a population of 42,701.

July 9, 1749 – Edward Cornwallis, governor of Nova Scotia, announces the establishment of Halifax.

April 17, 1750 – A fortified outpost is built on the present site of Toronto. Fort Rouille is intended to encourage Indians to trade furs with the French.

March 23, 1752 – Canada’s first newspaper, the Halifax Gazette, is printed by John Bushell.

1754 – Louis La Corne plants the first wheat in the west, in the Carrot River Valley of present-day Saskatchewan.

Sept. 5, 1755 – Lt.-Col. John Winslow says Acadians who refuse to pledge allegiance to the British Crown will forfeit their property and be relocated from their communities to Louisiana and British American colonies.

May 17, 1756 – The Seven Years’ War begins with Britain declaring war on France. It starts in North America and spreads to Europe.

Sept. 13, 1759 – British Commander-in-Chief James Wolfe dies on the field after being shot three times during the battle of the Plains of Abraham. French commander Louis-Joseph de Montcalm, mortally wounded, succumbs the next day.

Feb. 10, 1763 – The Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years’ War, with Britain taking possession of Canada.

June 22, 1774 – The British Parliament passes the Quebec Act, establishing among other things French civil law, British-based criminal law and religious freedom for Roman Catholics.

April 1, 1776 – The first of thousands of United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution arrive in Halifax.

March 29, 1778 – James Cook, George Vancouver and their crews become the first Europeans known to have landed at British Columbia.

April 24, 1779 – The North West Company is formed in Montreal to compete with the Hudson’s Bay Company in the fur trade.

June 10, 1791 – Britain’s Canada Act divides the new country into Upper Canada, with its capital at Newark (later Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.), and Lower Canada, with Quebec City as its capital.

Oct. 13, 1812 – Gen. Isaac Brock is killed in a counterattack against American forces in the Battle of Queenston Heights, near Niagara Falls.

June 22, 1813 – A Queenston (Ont.) woman, Laura Secord, aided by Indians, treks more than 19 kilometres to warn British forces of plans she overheard of an American attack.

Dec. 24, 1814 – The Treaty of Ghent is signed, ending the War of 1812 and restoring Canada-U.S. borders.

March 21, 1821 – The Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company merge after decades of often-fierce rivalry.

1825 – The latest census puts the population of Lower Canada (Quebec) at 479,288, and Upper Canada (Ontario) at 157,923.

March 6, 1834 – York reverts to its original name, Toronto, and is incorporated as a city.

Feb. 4, 1839 – Lord Durham, former governor-in-chief of British North America, recommends in a report to the British Parliament the systematic anglicization of French Canadians to make them a minority.

Oct. 14, 1844 – John A. Macdonald is elected to represent Kingston, Ont., in the Legislative Assembly of Canada.

April 23, 1851 – Canada’s first official postage stamp, the three-penny beaver, is issued.

Dec. 31, 1857 – Queen Victoria names Ottawa as the new capital of Canada.

Sept. 7, 1864 – Maritime delegates at the Charlottetown Conference offer unanimous support for the idea of Confederation. The conference was supposed to focus on uniting the Maritime provinces, but an unofficial delegation from the province of Canada derailed the agenda and delegates agreed to the broad outline of a federal union that would eventually include Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 1867.

July 1, 1867 – The Dominion of Canada, uniting Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, comes into existence, with John A. Macdonald as first prime minister.

May 15, 1870 – Manitoba becomes Canada’s fifth province.

April 2, 1871 – The first census of the Dominion of Canada lists the population as 3,689,257.

July 20, 1871 – British Columbia enters Confederation as the nation’s sixth province.

July 1, 1873 – Prince Edward Island enters Confederation.

Aug. 3, 1876 – The first telephone call between separate buildings is made by inventor Alexander Graham Bell, in Mount Pleasant, Ont., to his uncle, David Bell, in Brantford, Ont.

Feb. 8, 1879 – Sir Sandford Fleming presents a paper to the Royal Canadian Institute proposing that the world be divided into 24 time zones.

Nov. 7, 1885 – Rail director Donald Smith drives the ceremonial last spike home for the Canadian Pacific Railway, linking Montreal to Port Moody, B.C.

Nov. 16, 1885 – Metis leader Louis Riel is hanged for high treason as a result of the North West Rebellion.

Oct. 30, 1899 – More than 1,000 Canadian soldiers set sail from Quebec to South Africa and the Boer War.

Nov. 7, 1900 – Liberal Wilfrid Laurier becomes prime minister after defeating Charles Tupper’s Conservatives. Laurier goes on to be one of Canada’s most lauded prime ministers.

READ MORE: Take the quiz: How well do you know Canadiana?

Oct. 19, 1903 – Canadian representatives on the Alaska Boundary Commission refuse to sign the commission’s decision setting the boundary between Alaska and Canada, saying virtually all American positions had been accepted.

May 14, 1904 – Canada competes in the Olympics, in St. Louis, for the first time.

Canada’s Etienne Desmarteau poses with his gold medal won in the shot put event at the 1904 St. Louis Olympics. The Canadian Press

July 20, 1905 – Acts proclaiming Alberta and Saskatchewan as Canada’s newest provinces receive royal assent.

Jan. 2, 1908 – The first coin is struck at the new Royal Mint building in Ottawa, ending years of importing Canadian currency from England.

Feb. 23, 1909 – John Alexander Douglas McCurdy makes the first airplane flight in the British Empire, travelling about 10 metres above the ground for almost a kilometre at Baddeck, N.S.

Dec. 4, 1909 – The University of Toronto defeats the Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club 26-6 in the first Grey Cup game for a Canadian football championship.

May 14. 1912 – Ottawa divests itself of responsibility for vast tracts of northern land, granting boundary extensions to Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

Aug. 4. 1914 – Following Germany’s invasion of Belgium, Britain declares war on Germany. Canada, as part of the British Empire, is engaged in the war as well.

Feb. 4. 1916 – Fire partially destroys the Parliament buildings in Ottawa.

April 9, 1917 – The Canadian Corps attacks German positions on Vimy Ridge in France, a key piece of land held by the Germans since 1914. Six days later, fighting ends with the Canadians victorious despite the loss of 3,600 troops.

Dec. 6, 1917 – Mont Blanc, a French munitions ship, explodes in Halifax Harbour, killing more than 1,000 people and destroying some 6,000 homes.

May 24, 1918 – Canadian women win the right to vote in federal elections.

Nov. 11, 1918 – The First World War ends; Canada has lost 60,000 troops.

May 15, 1919 – A general strike begins in Winnipeg in support of striking workers in building and metal trades. It ends six weeks later, after two deaths in skirmishes.

Feb. 1, 1920 – The Royal North West Mounted Police and Dominion Police merge to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Oct. 24, 1921 – The Lunenburg fishing schooner Bluenose defeats the American vessel Elsie to win the international schooner championship.

Dec. 6, 1921 – Agnes Macphail becomes the first woman elected to Parliament.

Jan. 3, 1922 – The Royal Mint produces Canada’s first five-cent pieces, made mostly of nickel.

Oct. 25, 1923 – Frederick Banting and J.J.R. Macleod are first Canadians to win a Nobel prize, for their work that led to discovery of insulin.

Nov. 19, 1926 – The Commonwealth adopts the Balfour Report, specifying that dominions such as Canada are autonomous from and equal to Britain.

March 2, 1927 – The British dominion of Newfoundland wins a 25-year boundary dispute with Canada. Labrador, which had been claimed by Quebec, is awarded to Newfoundland.

April 24, 1928 – The Supreme Court rules that women are not persons, and therefore are not eligible to sit in Senate. The government later amends the British North America Act to allow women to enter Senate.

Feb. 5, 1930 – Canada’s first woman senator, Cairine Wilson, is appointed.

Oct. 1, 1930 – After negotiations with Ottawa, Alberta gains control of its natural resources. Saskatchewan and Manitoba also receive the same power that same year.

July 6, 1931 – Federal officials and the Red Cross announce plans to aid victims of a drought that has gripped the Prairies for more than a year.

Dec. 11, 1931 – The Statute of Westminster, giving dominions of the Commonwealth full legal freedom, is passed by British Parliament. At Canada’s request, Britain retains power to amend the British North America Act.

May 24, 1932 – Legislation brings the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission into existence.

July 18, 1932 – Canada and the United States agree to develop the St. Lawrence River into a seaway capable of taking ships into the Great Lakes.

July 3, 1934 – Parliament passes the Bank of Canada Act, creating a central bank.

Sept. 10, 1939 – Canada declares war on Nazi Germany.

June 27, 1941 – The federal government allows women to enlist in the army.

Dec. 7, 1941 – Canada declares war on Japan after its attack on Pearl Harbor.

Feb. 26, 1942 – The Canadian government announces plans to move all Japanese on Canada’s West Coast inland to camps.

April 27, 1942 – Canadians voting in a plebiscite support conscription, but the vote badly divides the country: 70 per cent of Quebecers reject it.

May 11, 1942 – A German U-boat in the St. Lawrence River torpedoes two freighters, the first time the war has come to Canadian territory.

Aug. 19, 1942 – Canadian troops sustain major losses in a raid on the French port of Dieppe. Nearly 1,000 Canadians die and another 1,800 are taken prisoner.

READ MORE: Breaking German codes real reason for 1942 Dieppe raid: historian

Members of the Royal Canadian Medical Corps evacuating Allied soldiers from the beach after the Dieppe, France raid during the Second World War. The Associated Press

June 6, 1944 – Allied troops storm the beaches at Normandy – Canadians take Juno Beach – in the largest amphibious operation in history.

June 15, 1944 – T.C. (Tommy) Douglas leads the CCF to power in Saskatchewan, becoming Canada’s first socialist premier.

May 7, 1945 – Victory comes for the Allies in Europe as the Germans surrender. News of V-E Day touches off wild celebrations in Canada.

Aug. 15, 1945 – The Japanese emperor announces Japan’s surrender, ending the Second World War.

May 14, 1946 – The Canadian Citizenship Act is passed, meaning a Canadian citizen is no longer classified as British subject first.

Oct. 14, 1946 – The government introduces Canada Savings Bonds.

Feb. 13, 1947 – Drilling begins at Leduc No. 1, a huge oil find in north-central Alberta.

March 31, 1949 – Newfoundland officially enters Confederation.

Dec. 18, 1950 – The 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, begins disembarking in Pusan as Canada enters the war between North and South Korea.

May 7, 1951 – Parliament passes a motion seeking a constitutional amendment that would create pensions for all Canadians over 70.

Sept. 6, 1952 – Canada’s first television station, CBFT Montreal, begins broadcasting.

June 6, 1956 – A pipeline bill authorizing the creation of a western section of pipeline to transport natural gas to Ontario from Alberta passes second reading in the Senate. The bill has caused an uproar after the Liberal government invoked closure – a time limit on debate – for the first time in history.

June 26, 1959 – Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower officially open the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Aug. 10, 1960 – The Bill of Rights, specifying the rights of Canadians, becomes law.

Jan. 19, 1962 – The government announces a new immigration policy intended to remove any racial discrimination from the system.

July 1, 1962 – Saskatchewan’s Medical Care Insurance Act takes effect, creating Canada’s first comprehensive public health-care program.

March 26, 1964 – Defence Minister Paul Hellyer releases a report that recommends merging Canada’s army, navy and air force into a single force.

Dec. 15, 1964 – A new Canadian flag – red maple leaf on white background between two red bars- wins the approval of Parliament.

– A new Canadian flag – red maple leaf on white background between two red bars- wins the approval of Parliament. The Canadian Press

April 28, 1967 – Expo 67, a world’s fair built on the theme Man and His World, opens in Montreal.

July 1, 1967 – Canada celebrates its centennial with parties and building projects across the country. The government institutes the Order of Canada to recognize exemplary achievement by Canadians.

Oct. 17, 1968 – Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduces the Official Languages Act, making English and French the country’s two official languages.

Oct. 5, 1970 – The October Crisis begins as the Front de Liberation du Quebec kidnaps British diplomat James Cross and, later, Labour Minister Pierre Laporte. Trudeau invokes the War Measures Act, which allows government to temporarily suspend civil liberties. Cross is released 60 days later but Laporte is found dead.

Sept. 28, 1972 – Team Canada, on Paul Henderson’s goal with 34 seconds remaining in final game, defeats the Soviet Union four games to three, with one tied.

June 22, 1976 – The House of Commons approves, by just eight votes, a bill abolishing the death penalty.

July 17, 1976 – Montreal hosts the Summer Olympics.

Nov. 15, 1976 – Rene Levesque’s separatist Parti Quebecois wins a stunning election victory in Quebec.

July 14, 1978 – The federal government agrees to pay $45 million to 2,500 Inuit of the Western Arctic in return for Inuit surrendering aboriginal rights to 270,000 square kilometres of land they traditionally used.

May 27, 1980 – By a 60-40 margin, Quebecers vote against sovereignty association in a referendum.

Sept. 1, 1980 – Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, his one-legged run across Canada to raise money for cancer research, ends abruptly near Thunder Bay, Ont., when his cancer returns.

Nov. 5, 1981 – Ottawa and all provinces but Quebec reach agreement to patriate the Constitution.

April 17, 1982 – With the stroke of a pen by the Queen in Ottawa, Canada has its own Constitution.

Oct. 26, 1982 – Legislation changes the name of the annual Dominion Day holiday to Canada Day.

March 4, 1986 – The federal government announces it will outlaw mandatory retirement for civil servants and discrimination against homosexuals.

May 2, 1986 – Expo 86, a world’s fair on the theme of transport, opens in Vancouver.

June 30, 1987 – The $1 coin, which quickly earns the nickname “loonie,” is introduced.

Jan. 2, 1988 – The Canada-U.S. free trade agreement is signed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and President Ronald Reagan.

Jan. 28, 1988 – The Supreme Court overturns the law that required a panel at an accredited hospital to determine if a woman’s life or health was endangered before allowing her to have an abortion. The decision paves way for abortion on demand.

Feb. 13, 1988 – The Winter Olympics open in Calgary.

Jan. 14, 1990 – The Via passenger train The Canadian makes its final crosscountry trip after the federal government orders the railway to cut service.

Jan. 1, 1991 – After months of protest, the GST takes effect. The federal tax adds seven per cent to the cost of many goods and services.

Jan. 19, 1991 – Canadian CF-18 jet fighters fly an offensive mission in the Persian Gulf war, marking the first time Canadian forces have engaged in battle since the Korean War.

July 2, 1992 – With cod stocks dwindling, Fisheries Minister John Crosbie announces a two-year shutdown for Newfoundland’s northern cod fishery.

Jan. 1, 1994 – The North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico takes effect.

Oct. 30, 1995 – Quebecers narrowly reject separation, with 50.6 per cent voting “no.”

Feb. 19, 1996 – Canada’s new $2 coin, dubbed the “toonie,” is introduced.

May 1, 1996 – The Commons approves changes to the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination against gays.

May 31, 1997 – The Confederation Bridge opens, linking Prince Edward Island to the mainland.

Aug. 4, 1998 – A treaty gives the Nisga’a First Nation ownership of 2,000 square kilometres in northern British Columbia. Some critics complain the deal paves the way for aboriginal self-government.

April 1, 1999 – Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut, is carved out of the eastern Northwest Territories.

Jan. 12, 2000 – Beverly McLachlin becomes the first female chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Oct. 7, 2001: Prime Minister Jean Chretien announces Canada’s participation in an international anti-terrorism mission in Afghanistan

April 18, 2002 – Four soldiers, part of Canada’s contribution to the war on terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, are killed when a U.S. fighter jet mistakenly bombs them in Afghanistan. They are the first soldiers killed in a combat zone since the Korean War.

Dec. 16, 2002 – Canada signs Kyoto Accord, committing it to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

July 20, 2005 – Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Canada.

Mar. 13, 2007 – Census data collected the year before puts Canada’s population at 31,612,897.

Jun. 11, 2008 – Prime Minister Stephen Harper issues a formal apology for the abuse suffered by aboriginals in the residential school system.

Dec. 5, 2008 – Canada marks the 100th military death as a result of its ongoing mission in Afghanistan.

Feb. 12, 2010 – The Winter Olympic Games begin in Vancouver. Freestyle moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau becomes the first-ever athlete to claim a gold medal on Canadian soil. Canada goes on to win 14 gold medals – an all-time high for a host country in a Winter Olympics.

March 12, 2014: The Canadian flag is lowered at the NATO headquarters in Kabul, marking the formal end to Canada’s operations in Afghanistan.

SOURCES: Canadian Press archives, Chronicle of Canada (1990, Chronicle Publications), Canadian Facts & Dates, Jay Myers (1986, Fitzhenry & Whiteside)


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