The Story of Canada: A Timeline


28000 BC - The first residents of what is now Canada arrive over the Bering Straight.

1000 AD - Norsemen arrive from Europe and set up temporary settlements on the northern tip of Newfoundland. At this time, the land that would become Canada supports 300,000 native people.

1497 - John Cabot lands on the coast (probably Newfoundland or Cape Breton Island) and claims the territory for King Henry VII of England.

1534 - Jacques Cartier lands in what is now the province of Quebec and claims it for France. The new colony, eventually called New France, included forts and settlements in what is now the Maritimes and Quebec, which were the beginning of cities such as Quebec City (founded 1608) and Montreal.

1670 - The Hudson's Bay Company, Canada's oldest business, is founded by the British, primarily as a fur trading enterprise (it still exists today as a major Canadian department store chain).

1759 - The gradual conquest of New France by the British culminates in a victory at the Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City, forcing France  to give up control of her North American empire.

1763 - New France is renamed "Quebec" and officially delivered to England by the Treaty of Paris. The Treaty of Paris ends French rule in Canada.

1791 - Lower Canada (Quebec) and Upper Canada (Ontario) are formed.

1812 - Beginning of the War of 1812 between Canada (Britain) & the US. The Treaty of Ghent ends the war in 1814.

1818 - The 49th parallel (latitude) becomes accepted as the border between the US and Canada from Lake of the Woods in Ontario to the Rocky Mountains.

1841 - Upper and Lower Canada are united through the Act of Union.

1856 - Ottawa becomes the capital of Canada.

1867 - The Dominion of Canada is created under the British North America Act (BNA Act) passed by the British government. Sir John A. MacDonald becomes the first Prime Minister of the Dominion that included Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Within the next six years Manitoba, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island were admitted into the Dominion.

1885 - Louis Riel and the Métis (descendants of marriages between native people and Europeans) clash with the Northwest Mounted Police at Duck Lake and are defeated. Riel is hung in Regina, Saskatchewan, on November 16, 1885.

1897 - The Klondike Gold Rush begins along the Klondike river near Dawson City, Yukon. It is not clear who made the actual discovery, with some accounts saying that it was Kate Carmack, while others credit Skookum Jim. In 1898, the population in the Klondike may have reached 40,000, which threatened to cause a famine.

1904 - In 1904 & 1905 Alberta and Saskatchewan enter Confederation, leaving only Newfoundland on its own.

1916 - Women are granted the right to vote and hold public office, thanks to Nellie McClung & others.

1914 - 1918 - When Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is killed, World War I begins in Europe. It lasted for 4 years and saw almost 67,000 Canadians lose their lives.

1939 - 1945 - Canada is once again caught up in war, World War II, lasting for 6 years. Canada ends the war with the world’s 3rd largest navy and proud of it’s contribution. A strong sense of what it means to be Canadian, and Canadian pride, is felt across the country.

1949 - Newfoundland enters Confederation as the last province to join.

1956 - During the Suez Crisis, Canadian diplomat Lester B. Pearson proposes a force sponsored by the UN that could supervise cease-fire. The UN General Assembly accepts his proposal and peacekeeping was born. Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957, and went on to become Prime Minister of Canada in 1963.

1965 - The National Flag of Canada, known as the Maple Leaf, makes its first appearance, replacing the Red Ensign. February 15 is National Flag of Canada Day.

1967 - Canada turns 100 years old and celebrates with the 1967 Worlds Fair (known as Expo 67) festivities in Montreal.

1969 - The Official languages Act is adopted by the Government of Canada making English and French "official" languages, having preferred status in law over all other languages.

1980 - "O Canada" is proclaimed Canada's national anthem, 100 years after it was first sung on June 24, 1880. This replaces “God Save the Queen” as the national anthem of Canada.

1987 - On November 8, Mr. Polsky is born. The entire country celebrates. This day is remembered in history books as one of the most important in Canadian history.

1989 - The Calgary Flames win their first Stanley Cup championship.

1993 - Kim Campbell becomes the first female and 19th Prime Minister, but her Conservative party's defeat in an election means she only held office from June 25, 1993 to November 4, 1993 (132 days).

1988 - Calgary hosts the 1988 Winter Olympics.

1994 - Canada, the United States and Mexico launch the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

1995 - A referendum on Quebec independence takes place and the "no" side (against independence) wins by a very narrow margin.

2003 - Vancouver wins the bidding process to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. Canada was home to the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

1976 - Montreal hosts the 1976 Summer Olympics.

2010 - Vancouver hosts the 2010 Winter Olympics and both the Canadian Men & Women’s teams win Hockey gold.

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The story of Canada is rich in history, with incredible events, people, cultures and traditions. From the beginning, there are some key events and people who had a large impact on the development of our country. Below you can find a timeline which shows a few of the important dates in the story of Canada.