Canadian History Time Line, 1812 to 1910

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The History Ring


    Beginning of the War of 1812 (also here) between CA (Britain) & the US. Brock is killed in the battle at Queenston Heights. The Treaty of Ghent ends the war in 1814 (Treaty text here). The Red River settlers establish themselves in CA’s northwest


    Robert Semple, the governor of territories for HBC, is killed by Métis allies of the North West Co., along with other Red River colonists in the Battle of Seven Oaks marking the birth of the Métis Nation


    The 49th parallel becomes accepted as the border between the U.S. & CA from Lake of the Woods to the Rockies



    CA’s first rail line opens, serving from St. Johns to La Prairie. A horse tramway or light rail line had been operating in Nova Scotia (1829). For dates in rail history see here. For all encompassing rail information see this excellent resource




    Fort Victoria built by Britain to establish claim to Vancouver Island


    Britain begins limited free trade with the US ending preferential trade with its own colonies (here for an interesting discussion of economic factors, but see also the Irish Famine and the beginning of an end to slavery as Connecticut outlaws slavery in 1848)


    Official CDN policy of bilingualism begins. US-CDN border at the 49th parallel is extended to the Pacific.


    Underground railroad network in place for enslaved and even freed African-Americans in southwestern Ontario. CA gains control of its postal system from Britain


    The Reciprocity Treaty is signed by CA & the US (in effect until 1866)


    Ottawa becomes the capital of CA


    Cornerstone is laid of the Parliament buildings



    The Charlottetown & Quebec conferences establish the groundwork for Confederation



    Confederation, whereby the colonies become the Dominion of Canada with Sir John A. Macdonald as first prime minister. The original provinces are: Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, & Nova Scotia For a discussion of symbols that represent Canada, such as the motto, flag, etc., try the CBC discussion here or here for a picture of the Canadian crest



    The Métis, led by Louis Riel, resist the imposition of CDN authority in the northwest. Manitoba joins CA (see entry for 1885, below)


    British Columbia joins Confederation


    Prince Edward Island joins CA. The North West Mounted Police (NWMP) is formed and begin to go west. Samuel Benfield Steele (use next link if this one malfunctions) was one of its most colourful and legendary figures (also visit Fort Steele from this site; see also the entry for1885, below)



    The Indian Act defines the special status & land regulations of aboriginal people who live on reservations; they have no vote in CDN elections & are exempt from taxes


    Emily Stowe becomes the first woman doctor to receive a licence to practice medicine. Note: She was turned down by the University of Toronto and studied in the U.S.


    The Canadian Pacific Railway is incorporated. The last spike is set in 1885. William Van Horne is then General Manager of Canadian Pacific; he is later knighted. His summer home in New Brunswick is now a protected historic site


    Louis Riel & the Métis clash with the NWMP at Duck Lake & are defeated at Batoche. Riel is executed in Regina.(Note: this site gives a remarkable account of all the events before and after 1885 describing the players, such as Sam Steele, Sir John A. MacDonald and many others—all as part of the Métis History alongside the "True Canadian History". A careful reading of the site will create a strong and detailed impression of the times. Perhaps Dick Garneau's site will not be considered impartial—Lawrence Garneau, the writer's ancestor, nearly hanged with Riel, and there are no kind words about the Scots, of which, ironically, I am one by birth)


    The first provincial premier’s conference is held in Quebec City


    Women begin to campaign for the right to vote



    Algonquin Park is established as a wildlife sanctuary in Ontario.


    Laurier is voted PM on the Manitoba Schools Question.(detailed chronology of events and the aftermath from 1869 to 1916) (Try here for a text by Laurier on Canadian identity.) An immigration policy is developed to help bring farmers from Europe to settle on the Prairies.


    The Klondike Gold Rush begins (here for some biographies of historical figures). The first woman is admitted to the bar in Ontario: Clara Brett Martin


    Yukon becomes a distinct territory from NWT



    Marconi receives a transatlantic radio message at St. John’s, Newfoundland


    Alberta & Saskatchewan become part of CA



    Laurier establishes the Canadian Navy

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A review of this site by Brent Johner is available at the Canadian History site.
N.B.: All links in the Time Line will take you off this site. Bookmark now, or use your browser's "back" feature. See Introduction for further information regarding links.
For visual representations of the territories that were known in Canada during this time period, see Canadian Geographic's Mapping Canada site.





HBC—Hudsons’s Bay Company;

NA–North America

NAFTA–North American Free Trade Agreement.

Standard provincal & other abbreviations used wherever possible.

Primary sources: The 1999 Canadian Global Almanac by John Robert Colombo; A Short History of Canada by Desmond Morton.

Icons are used primarily to illustrate the main tenor of the entry for a given date and to help follow events at a glance.

= Exploration

= Historic voyage (exploration)

= Settlement

= Events concerning Native people

= Conflict for a national claim

= Treaty, act or decree

= Battle or war

= Religious matter

= CA nation

= Railroad

= Western Canada

= Culture or media

= Women, women's rights

= Science, technology

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