Canadian History for Dummies
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Canadian history is a lot of fun. There are heroes and villains, tragedies and triumphs, great battles and sudden betrayals, loyal refugees and long struggles for social justice. The interpretation of Canadian history may vary – radically, at times – but there are still core events from our past that every Canadian should know. Brush up on your Canadian history with the following timeline of important events.

30,000–10,000 BC Prehistoric hunters cross over into Canada from Asia
circa 1000 AD Leif Ericsson leads a Viking expedition to the New World
1451 The Iroquois Confederacy is formed
1497 John Cabot reaches Newfoundland (or perhaps Cape Breton)
1534 Jacques Cartier first explores the St. Lawrence region
1608 Samuel de Champlain establishes a French colony at Québec City
1670 Hudson’s Bay Company is formed
1755 Expulsion of the Acadians
1759 Battle of the Plains of Abraham: Québec City is captured
1763 New France is formally ceded to Britain; Pontiac Rebellion erupts
1783 Loyalist refugees begin arriving after the American Revolution
1812–14 War of 1812: U.S. invades Canada
1837–38 Rebellions against British rule in Upper and Lower Canada
1848 Responsible government is won, first in Nova Scotia, then in Canada
1867 Confederation (first four provinces: Québec, Ontario, N.S., and N.B.)
1870 Red River Resistance; province of Manitoba is created
1871, 1873 B.C. and P.E.I. join Canada
1885 North-West Rebellion; the Canadian Pacific Railway is completed
1905 The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan are created
1914–18 World War I
1916 Women win the vote in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta
1919 The Winnipeg General Strike
1929–39 The Great Depression
1939–45 World War II
1949 Newfoundland joins Canada
1950–53 Korean War
1959 St. Lawrence Seaway (major transportation route) officially opens
1960 Québec’s Quiet Revolution begins; Native Canadians given the vote
1967 Canada’s 100th birthday; Expo 67 World’s Fair in Montréal
1970 October Crisis: political kidnappings, Ottawa suspends civil rights
1980 Québec referendum on “sovereignty-association” defeated 60% to 40%
1982 Constitution comes home — with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms
1987–90 Meech Lake Accord is put forward — and collapses
1992 Charlottetown Accord is rejected by a national referendum
1995 Québec referendum on sovereignty is narrowly defeated
1999 The new Arctic territory of Nunavut is created
2000 Clarity Bill outlines the terms of Québec separation
2003 Canada says “no” to joining the war in Iraq
2005 Former PM Jean Chrétien and sitting PM Paul Martin testify at the Gomery Inquiry
2010 Canada sets record for gold medals at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games

About This Article

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Will Ferguson has lived and worked in every region of Canada, from the Okanagan Valley of BC to the farmlands of rural Quebec, from Saskatoon to southern Ontario, from Manitoba to PEI.
He is the author of several bestselling books on Canadian history and culture, including the Leacock Medal for Humour-winning Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw (a travel memoir), and Bastards & Boneheads (a study in Canadian leadership styles). With his brother Ian, he wrote the wildly successful humour book How to Be a Canadian, which sold over 145,000 copies and won the Libris Award for Non-Fiction Book of the Year.
Will's debut novel Happiness (originally published under the title Generica) won the Leacock Medal for Humour and the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. It has been published in 31 countries and 24 languages around the world.

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