Dear Canada: A step back in time


CANADA THROUGH THE YEARS: Keep track of important dates in Canada's history
and explore the Dear Canada books that reflect on these times.

  • Go to:
  • 16th Century & Before
  • 17th Century
  • 18th Century
  • 19th Century
  • 20th Century

16th Century & Before

  • About
    18000 B.C.

    The first inhabitants of North America probably cross from Siberia via a land bridge.

  • About
    A.D. 1001

    Leif Ericsson makes his first voyage to Vinland.

  • 1497

    John Cabot makes the first of two voyages for England to the fishing grounds of Newfoundland.

  • 1534

    Jacques Cartier claims the Gaspé Peninsula for France. The following year he travels up the St. Lawrence to Stadacona (now Québec City) and Hochelaga (now Montréal) and names the territory “Canada.”

  • 1576

    Martin Frobisher makes the first of three journeys to find the Northwest Passage.

  • 1583

    Sir Humphrey Gilbert claims Newfoundland for England.

17th Century

  • 1604

    Samuel de Champlain establishes a colony at Nova Scotia.

  • 1608

    Champlain establishes a permanent French colony at Québec.

  • 1615

    The first Roman Catholic missionaries attempt to convert Indigenous people to Christianity.

  • 1642

    The founding of Montréal.

  • 1649

    War between the Wendat and Haudenosaunee confederacies leads to the destruction of the Wendat Nation. The Haudenosaunee begin raids on New France.

  • 1663

    Jean Talon is appointed intendant of New France. King Louis XIV commits to defending the colony and promoting settlement.

  • 1666

    Alone in an Untamed Land:
    The Filles du Roi Diary of Hélène St. Onge

  • 1670

    The British crown grants a charter to the Hudson’s Bay Company.

18th Century

  • 1713

    The Treaty of Utrecht.

  • 1721

    Winter of Peril:
    The Newfoundland Diary of Sophie Loveridge

  • 1749

    The British establish Halifax.

  • 1755

    Banished from Our Home:
    The Acadian Diary of Angélique Richard

  • 1755

    The British begin the expulsion of the Acadians.

  • 1756–1763

    The Seven Years War between Britain and France, during which the British capture Louisbourg (1758) and Québec in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (1759), and the French surrender New France to the British (1760).

  • 1759

    The Death of My Country:
    The Plains of Abraham Diary of Geneviève Aubuchon

  • 1769

    Prince Edward Island becomes a colony of Great Britain.

  • 1774

    The passage of the Québec Act.

  • 1776

    The creation of the North West Company.

  • 1778

    Captain James Cook explores the Pacific Coast.

  • 1775–1783

    The American Revolutionary War, during which the Thirteen Colonies gain independence from Great Britain. The people of Québec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island remain loyal to Great Britain. About forty thousand Loyalists from the Thirteen Colonies join them.

  • 1791

    Québec is divided into two separate colonies: Lower and Upper Canada.

  • 1783

    With Nothing But Our Courage:
    The Loyalist Diary of Mary MacDonald

  • 1792

    Captain George Vancouver makes the first of three voyages to explore Vancouver Island and the coast of British Columbia.

  • 1793

    Explorer Alexander Mackenzie crosses the Rocky and Coastal Mountains to reach the Pacific Ocean.

  • 1793

    John Graves Simcoe establishes York (now Toronto) on the shore of Lake Ontario.

19th Century

20th Century

  • 1899–1902

    Canadians fight for the British during the Boer War in South Africa.

  • 1902

    All Fall Down:
    The Landslide Diary of Abby Roberts

  • 1905

    Saskatchewan and Alberta join Confederation.

  • 1910

    The first known outbreak of polio in Canada. Polio was a devastating worldwide disease that struck the youngest and healthiest, from babies to teenagers.  The Salk vaccine (introduced in 1955) and the Sabin oral vaccine (introduced in 1962) eventually brought polio under control in the early 1970s.

  • 1912

    The sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic in the North Atlantic Ocean southeast of Nova Scotia.

  • 1912

    That Fatal Night:
    The Titanic Diary of Dorothy Wilton

  • 1914–1918

    WWI: Britain declares war on Germany. Canada participates as part of the British Empire.

  • 1914

    Prisoners in the Promised Land:
    The Ukrainian Internment Diary of Anya Soloniuk

  • 1916

    Brothers Far from Home:
    The World War I Diary of Eliza Bates

  • 1917

    The Halifax explosion.

  • 1917

    No Safe Harbour:
    The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn

  • 1918

    Women are granted the right to vote in federal elections.

  • 1918

    If I Die Before I Wake:
    The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor

  • 1919

    The Winnipeg general strike.

  • 1922

    An Ocean Apart:
    The Gold Mountain Diary of Chin Mei-ling

  • 1926

    In 1926, 104,471 people left their homes to come to Canada. They were a variety of nationalities — French, Irish, Scandinavian, German, Scottish, Czech and others — but the largest immigrant group that year were the English.

  • 1926

    A Prairie as Wide as the Sea:
    The Immigrant Diary of Ivy Weatherall

  • 1927

    The first coast-to-coast radio broadcast in Canada.

  • 1929

    The Persons Case.

  • 1929

    The stock market crash of October 29 marks the beginning of the Great Depression.

  • 1932

    Not a Nickel to Spare:
    The Great Depression Diary of Sally Cohen

  • 1936

    The establishment of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

  • 1937

    To Stand On My Own:
    The Polio Epidemic Diary of Noreen Robertson

  • 1939–45

    Canada participates in the Second World War.

  • 1940

    Exiles from the War:
    The War Guests Diary of Charlotte Mary Twiss

  • 1941

    Turned Away:
    The World War II Diary of Devorah Bernstein

  • 1941

    Torn Apart:
    The Internment Diary of Mary Kobayashi

  • 1947

    The oil strike at Leduc No. 1 in Alberta marks the beginning of the province’s oil boom.

  • 1948

    Pieces of the Past:
    The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz

  • 1949

    Newfoundland joins Confederation.

  • 1960

    Indigenous people living on reserves are granted the right to vote in federal elections.

  • 1965

    Canada adopts a new flag featuring a red maple leaf.

  • 1966

    These Are My Words:
    The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens

  • 1970

    The FLQ, a terrorist group attempting to establish an independent Québec through revolution, kidnaps a British trade commissioner and a Québec cabinet minister. The federal government, under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, invokes the War Measures Act.

  • 1982

    The Constitution Act is passed, along with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  • 1989

    The North American Free Trade Agreement comes into effect.

  • 1998

    The last residential school in Canada closes.

  • 1999

    Nunavut becomes a federal territory.

  • 2001

    Security alerts across Canada after terrorist attacks of September 11 on New York City and Washington D.C.

  • 2002

    Canadian forces take up combat mission in Afghanistan.

  • 2002

    Canada signs the Kyoto Accord, a global effort to reduce the green house gases that cause global warming.

  • 2003

    SARS epidemic kills more than thirty people and causes fear in Toronto and Vancouver.

  • 2004

    CBC Television’s “Greatest Canadian” contest chooses Tommy Douglas.

  • 2004

    Same-sex marriages become legal throughout Canada.

  • 2005

    Michaëlle Jean becomes governor general.

  • 2005

    Canadian Steve Nash named National Basketball Association’s Most Valuable Player.

  • 2007

    Census results show Canada had 31,612,897 people in 2006.

  • 2010

    Vancouver hosts the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Canada’s Olympians won more gold medals than those of any other nation.

  • 2011

    Canada sends military forces to assist the change of government in Libya during the “Arab Spring” uprisings.

  • 2013

    Kathleen Wynne becomes premier of Ontario in February. Six of Canada’s premiers are women.

  • 2013

    Astronaut Chris Hadfield becomes the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station. His Twitter postings earn a global following.

  • 2013

    A trainload of oil tankers derails at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people.

  • 2014

    A lone gunman shoots Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, provoking national mourning.

  • 2015

    After the federal election in October, Justin Trudeau becomes Canada’s 23rd prime minister.

  • 2015

    The report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is published.

  • 2016

    Canada admits 33,000 Syrian refugees, with more to come.

Learn more about Canada's history with our Interactive Timeline:.

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