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History Timeline

This is some highlights of significant events in Canadian history. Send us your suggestions for other events which should be included here.


c. 1000 A.D.Leif Ericsson and other Vikings visit Newfoundland and Labrador.
1497John Cabot claims Cape Breton Island for Henry VII of England.
1498Cabot makes his second voyage to North America.
1535French explorer, Jacques Cartier, gave Canada its name when he mistook the Indigenous word "kanata", meaning a collection of huts, for the name of the country.
1577Martin Frobisher of England makes the first of three attempts to find the northwest passage, sailing as far as Hudson Strait.
1608Samuel de Champlain founds Quebec City.
1663Quebec becomes a royal province.
1666Canada's first census counts 3215 non-native inhabitants in 668 families.
1670The Hudson's Bay Company is formed and granted trade rights over all territory draining into Hudson Bay.
1701The beginning of the collapse of New France.
1752March 23 issue of the Halifax Gazette, first newspaper in what would become Canada.
1753General George Washington's military expedition to the Monogahela is defeated by the French.
1759General Wolfe takes Quebec, defeating Montcalm o the Plains of Abraham. Both are killed.
1763France cedes its North American posessions to Britain by the Treaty of Paris.
1791the Constitution Act divides Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada.
1812Since the war of 1812, Canada and the United States have lived in harmony along the 49th parallel - the longest undefended border in the world. In this war, the British and Canadians were victorious bringing heroes such as General Issac Brock to the forefront with the Queeston Heights, Stoney Creek, and Lundy's Lane battles.
1836Opening of the first railway in Canada from La Prairie to St. Jean, Quebec.
1841The Act of Union unites Upper and Lower Canada.
1857Ottawa chosen by Queen Victoria as the capital of the united colony of Canada.
1867Canada becomes a sovereign nation by an act of the British Parliament (the British North America Act). Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick are united as the Dominion of Canada. Sir John A. Macdonald becomes the first prime minister.
1874Alexander Graham Bell invents basic concepts of the telephone in Brantford, Ontario.
1875The Supreme Court of Canada is established.
1885On November 7, the last spike is driven into the Canadian Pacific Railway in British Columbia. Canada is now linked by rail coast to coast.
1893First car in Canada, an electric, built by Dixon Carriage Works, Toronto.
1896Gold discovered in the Klondike.
1909First flight in Canada of heavier-than-air machine, under its own power - McCurdy's Silver Dart. Also year of first Grey Cup game, to declare Canada's football champions.
1917April, Canadians storm Vimy Ridge - the first time the Canadian army fought as a separate distinct unit.
1919Prime Minister Borden is party to the Treaty of Versailles - the first time Canada signed an international treaty on its own.
1923Nobel Prize awarded to Sir Frederick Banting and Dr. Charles Best for the discovery of insulin by the research team which they headed.
1934The Dionne Quintuplets are born in Callandar, Ontario.
1938US President Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes the first American president to visit Canada when he met with William Lyon Mackenzie King in Kingston.
1939September 10, Canada declares war on Germany.
1950Canada joins the war in Korea as part of the United Nations force.
1955Canada's first subway opens in Toronto; Hurricaine Hazel hits Toronto.
1960Prime Minister John Diefenbaker introduces Canada's first bill of rights.
1965The new Canadian flag is unveiled on Parliament Hill, February 15.
1967Centennial Celebrations throughout the country; Expo '67 in Montreal.
1970The FLQ kidnaps British Trade Commissioner James Cross and murders Immigration Minister Pierre Laporte leading to the October Crisis and the implementation of the War Measures Act.
1973Royal Canadian Mounted Police celebrate their 100th year of service in Canada.
1975The CN Tower in Toronto is completed - the tallest free-standing structure in the world at a height exceeding 550 metres.
1980Quebec votes "no" to a sovereignty referendum; "O Canada" becomes the national anthem.
1982Canadian Constitution is patriated to Canada - no longer requiring British approval for new laws.
1984The Pope visits Canada; Marc Garneau becomes the first Canadian in space; Brian Mulroney's progressive conservative government wins the largest majority in Canadian history.
1987A free vote in the House of Commons narrowly defeats the proposed restoration of capital punishment; the first Canada-US Free Trade Agreement is signed.
1991Canadian troops participate in a supporting role with the Allied forces in the assault against Iraq.
1993The progressive conservative government goes from the largest majority in the House of Commons in Canadian history to retaining only two seats. Jean Chrétien becomes prime minister.
1994Canadian troops leave CFB Lahr in Germany, officially ending 27 years of Canadian service for NATO in Europe.
1997Confederation Bridge officially opens to traffic between Prince Edward Island and the mainland.
1999Canadian CF-18 fighter-bombers take part in NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia; Nunavut becomes Canada's newest territory.

Copyright Craig I.W. Marlatt