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Timeline of Important Dates in Canadian History

Early History

Date
Event
c. 40 000 - 10 000 BC
Early descendants of Canada's aboriginal people cross the Bering land bridge from east Asia into North America.
c. 900 - 1000 AD
Early Viking explorers are believed to be the first Europeans to visit North America.
c. 1400s
Foundation of the Iroquois Confederacy, considered the high point of "pre-contact" aboriginal civilization.
June 24, 1497
Italian explorer John Cabot claims the island of Newfoundland for England.
July 24, 1534
French explorer Jacques Cartier sails into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and claims Gaspé Peninsula for France. Early attempts to found permanent settlements fail.
1604
Explorer Samuel de Champlain establishes first French settlement on St. Croix Island. In 1605, the colony is relocated to Port-Royal.
May 13, 1607
British explorer Christopher Newport establishes Jamestown as first permanent British colony in North America.
July 3, 1608
Founding of Quebec City on the St. Lawrence River heralds first permanent French settlement in North America.
May 17, 1642
The city of Montreal, then known as Ville-Marie, is founded by Paul de Chomedey Sieur de Maisonneuve.
September 24, 1663
New France becomes a royal colony of the French Empire.
May 2, 1670
The Hudson's Bay Company is founded by Britain's King Charles II. The company is given control of a vast new territory known as Rupert's Land, comprising much of northern North America.

The 18th Century

Date
Event
1702-1713
Queen Anne's War / War of the Spanish Succession: French and British forces battle for control of Atlantic colonies on the east coast of North America.
July 13, 1713
Treaty of Utrecht ends Queen Anne's War. France cedes Newfoundland, Acadia and its settlements on Hudson's Bay territory to England.
1755
British expel French colonists from Acadia.
September 14, 1752
Colonies of the British Empire begin using the Gregorian calendar, abandoning the old Julian calendar.
1756-1763
Seven Years War / French and Indian War: France and England battle for control of New France.
September 13, 1759
The decisive Battle of the Plains of Abraham results in British victory in the Seven Years War.
February 10, 1763
Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years War. France surrenders New France, now known as Quebec, to Britain.
October 7, 1763
A Royal Proclamation by Britain's King George III establishes general procedures for obtaining British control of aboriginal land.
June 22, 1774
Britain passes the Quebec Act, which permits the the continuation of the French language, legal system and Catholic religion in the former New France.
July 1, 1776
13 British colonies in New England revolt against colonial rule and form an independent country known as the United States of America. Loyalists flee to Quebec and Britain's Maritime colonies.
December 26, 1791
Britain passes Constitution Act, dividing Quebec into two colonies: Upper Canada (English) and Lower Canada (French).
July 22, 1793
British explorer Alexander Mackenzie crosses the Rocky Mountains and claims the Pacific coast of North America for England.

The 19th Century

Date
Event
1805
British explorer Simon Fraser founds the Rocky Mountain settlement of Fort McLeod as the region's first permanent white settlement.
1812-1815
War of 1812: Britain and the United States battle for control of eastern North America.
December 24, 1814
The Treaty of Ghent ends the War of 1812. Both Britain and the United States agree to re-establish the "status quo ante bellum" and return to the pre-1812 state of affairs.
August 28, 1833
Britain passes the Slavery Abolition Act, emancipating all slaves within the British Empire.
March 6, 1834
The City of Toronto is incorporated.
February 4, 1839
In response to growing unrest in the Canadian colonies, Governor Lord Durham releases the Durham Report, which recommends the merging of Upper and Lower Canada.
February 10, 1841
Act of Union unites Upper and Lower Canada into the United Province of Canada with a single parliamentary-style government.
February 19, 1858
The British Crown Colony of British Columbia is established on the Pacific coast.
September 1, 1864
Charlottetown Conference sees politicians from the United Province of Canada and Britain's Maritime colonies begin talks over a possible political union.
May 22, 1867
The British North America Act passes the British Parliament, uniting the former United Provinces (Quebec and Ontario) plus Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into a new self-governing colony, the Dominion of Canada.
November 19, 1869
Negotiations between Canada, Britain, and the Hudson's Bay Company conclude with the HBC signing a "deed of surrender" that transfers control of their massive Rupert's Land and North West Territories to Canada.
July 15, 1870
Manitoba is carved from the Rupert's Land territory to become the fifth province of Canada. The remaining land becomes known as the Northwest Territories.
May 8, 1871
Britain and the United States sign the Treaty of Washington, solidifying peace between their nations and removing all remaining British troops from North America.
July 25, 1871
British Columbia becomes the sixth province of Canada.
1870
The Dominion Notes Act is passed establishing a uniform Canadian currency (the Canadian Dollar) across Canada.
July 1, 1873
Prince Edward Island becomes the seventh province of Canada.
May 23, 1873
The Northwest Mounted Police, precursor to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, are founded.
April 12, 1876
The Indian Act is passed by the Parliament of Canada, founding the modern system of Indian reservations.
February 15, 1881
The federal government authorizes the construction of the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway.
December 21, 1883
The Royal Canadian Regiment is founded as the first permanent regiment of what will become the Canadian Army.
November 7, 1885
The "last spike" is driven in Craigellachie, British Columbia, completing the Canadian Pacific Railway.
April 6, 1886
The city of Vancouver is incorporated.
1889-1902
Canadian troops are sent to fight for the British in the second South African Boer War.
June 13, 1898
The Yukon is separated from the Northwest Territories to become Canada's second territory.

The 20th Century

Date
Event
July 1, 1904
Canada sends a national team to the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis — the first time Canada officially competes in the Olympics.
September 1, 1905
Alberta and Saskatchewan are separated from the Northwest Territories to become the eighth and ninth provinces of Canada.
May 4, 1910
Passage of the Naval Service Act creates the Royal Canadian Navy.
1914-1918
Canadian troops fight under British command during World War I.
June 7, 1917
Albertans Roberta MacAdams and Louise McKinney become the first women elected to sit in a Canadian provincial parliament.
May 24, 1918
Women are granted the right to vote in Canadian federal elections. Provinces follow suit at different times between 1916 and 1940.
November 11, 1918
World War I ends with the signing of an armistice between the allied powers and Germany.
January 10, 1920
Canada becomes one of the founding members of the League of Nations.
1923
Dr. Frederick Banting becomes the first Canadian to win a Nobel Prize for helping discover insulin.
April 1, 1924
The Royal Canadian Air Force is established.
October 29, 1929
A stock market crash in the United States triggers the Great Depression of the 1930s.
December 11, 1931
Britian's Statute of Westminster grants Canada near-complete political independence from Britain, including the right to an independent foreign policy.
September 10, 1939
Canada declares war on Germany and sends troops to fight in World War II.
June, 1940 to December, 1941
Canada declares war on the various other countries allied to Nazi Germany: Italy (Jun 10, 1940), Finland, Romania, Hungary (Dec 7, 1941), and Japan (Dec 8, 1941).
June 6, 1944
Canadian troops participate in the decisive D-Day invasion of Normandy, France.
May 8, 1945
V-E Day: The European theatre of World War II ends with the surrender of Germany.
August 14, 1945
V-J Day: The Pacific Theatre of World War II ends with the surrender of the Japanese Empire.
1946
The Canadian Army is founded, incorporating previous militias and regiments under a single land force command.
April 1, 1949
Newfoundland becomes the 10th province of Canada.
1949
Changes to the Supreme Court of Canada Act end the right of Canadians to make legal appeals to the British House of Lords. The Supreme Court of Canada becomes Canada's highest judicial body.
1950-1953
Canadians fight in the Korean War under United Nations command.
February 28, 1952
Vincent Massey is sworn in as the first Canadian-born governor general of Canada.
May 12, 1958
Canada and the United States co-found the North American Aerospace Defense Command to jointly protect the security of North American airspace.
Jun 22, 1960
The election of Liberal Jean Lesage as prime minister of Quebec heralds the beginning of Quebec's "quiet revolution" of secularization and modernization.
1963
American nuclear weapons begin being stationed in Canada.
February 15, 1965
The Maple Leaf becomes Canada's official flag.
July 1, 1967
Canada celebrates its centennial.
September 9, 1969
The passage of the Official Languages Act makes Canada an officially bilingual country with French and English as its two official languages.
October 16, 1970
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau evokes the martial law powers of the War Measures Act to crack down on separatist terrorists in Quebec following the assassination of vice-premier Pierre Laporte.
April 1, 1975
Canadian weather measurements officially switch from Fahrenheit to Celsius, the first of many important dates in Canada's gradual switch to the metric system.
July 17, 1976
Montreal becomes the first Canadian city to host the Olympic games.
November 15, 1976
The separatist Parti Québécois political party is elected to power in Quebec for the first time.
May 20, 1980
Quebec voters reject a referendum on separation from Canada.
April 17, 1982
Queen Elizabeth II signs the Canadian Constitution Act, transferring control of the former British North America Act — Canada's constitution — to Canada, thereby ending any remaining British political power over Canada. The revised version contains a new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
June, 1984
The last American nuclear weapons are removed from Canada, ending a denuclearization phase.
October 4, 1984
Marc Garneau becomes the first Canadian in outer space.
October 3, 1987
A free trade agreement between Canada and the United States is approved.
January - February, 1991
Canadians participate in the first Persian Gulf War to expel Iraq from Kuwait.
March 29, 1993
Catherine Callbeck of Prince Edward Island becomes the first woman to be elected premier of a Canadian province.
October 30, 1995
Quebec voters narrowly reject a second referendum on separation from Canada.
April 1, 1999
Nunavut is separated from the Northwest Territories to become Canada's third territory.
March, 1999
Canada participates in NATO air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The 21st Century

Date
Event
February 3, 2002
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Canadian troops are deployed to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban regime and Islamic terrorists.
July 7, 2011
Canada ends its combat mission in Afghanistan.
July 1, 2017
Canada celebrates its 150th birthday.