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Important Moments in Canadian History

Compiled by Dr. Robert J. Belton

1800 to 1867

1802
Mackenzie is knighted and becomes a member of the XY Company.

1803
The XY Company is reorganized under Mackenzie's name.

1804
The XY Company is absorbed by the North West Company. The earliest Fraktur paintings appear in Lincoln county, Ontario.

1806
Le canadien, a Québec nationalist newspaper, is founded.

1807
Slavery is abolished in British colonies.

1812
The U.S. declares war on Britain (June 18), beginning the War of 1812. Americans under General William Hull invade Canada from Detroit (July 11). Canadians are victorious at the Battle of Queenston Heights (Oct. 13). The Red River settlement is begun in Canada's northwest (Aug.-Oct.) on lands granted to Lord Selkirk by the Hudson's Bay Company.

1813
Americans burn York (Apr. 27). The Battles of Stoney Creek (June 5) and Beaver Dam (June 23) are Canadian victories, the latter in part due to Laura Secord's famous 32 km. walk to warn Lieutenant James FitzGibbon, who had already been warned by Indians. The Battles of Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie (Sept. 10) and Moraviantown (Oct. 5) are both American victories. At the latter, which is also known as the Battle of the Thames, British supporter and Shawnee Indian Chief Tecumseh is killed. The Battles of Chateauguay (Oct. 25) -- with mostly French-Canadian soldiers -- and Crysler's Farm (Nov. 11) -- with English-Canadian soldiers -- are Canadian both victories over larger American troops.

1814
Victories alternate between U.S. and British forces until the Treaty of Ghent ends the war (Dec. 24).

1816
After several years of harassment by agents of the North West Company, Métis and Indians under Cuthbert Grant kill Robert Semple, governor of the Red River settlement, and twenty others at Seven Oaks (June 19).

1817
The Rush-Bagot agreement limits the number of battleships on the Great Lakes to a total of eight.

1818
Canada's border is defined as the 49th Parallel from Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains.

1821
The Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company amalgamate, creating unemployment for a substantial proportion of their Métis workforce.

1821-4
The Lachine Canal is completed.

1822
Louis-Joseph Papineau, a member of the legislative assembly since 1814, travels from Montréal to England to oppose an Act of Union identifying the French Canadians as a minority without language rights. The act is not passed in the British Parliament.

1824-9
The first Welland Canal is completed, partly in response to American initiatives in the Erie Canal.

1826-32
Royal engineer Col. John By builds the Rideau Canal.

1834
York is renamed Toronto.

1834-35
William Lyon Mackenzie becomes the first mayor of Toronto.

1835
Joseph Howe, a Halifax printer and owner since 1828 of the weekly Novascotian, is arrested for libel but successfully argues his own case for freedom of the press. A local hero, he begins advocating the kind of responsible government that is only established in 1848.

1836
Opening of Canada's first railway line, from St. Johns, Québec, to La Prairie, Québec.

1837
Along with a general feeling that the government was not democratic, the failure of the executive committee to maintain the confidence of the elected officials leads to violent but unsuccessful rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada. The leaders, W.L. Mackenzie (Reformers) and Louis-Joseph Papineau (Patriotes), both escape to the U.S.

1838
As governor general and high commissioner of British North America, Lord Durham arrives to investigate the circumstances behind the Rebellion of 1837.

1839
Lord Durham's report recommends the establishment of responsible government and the union of Upper and Lower Canada to speed the assimilation of French-speaking Canadians. Territorial disputes between lumbermen from Maine and New Brunswick lead to armed conflict in the Aroostook River valley (the Aroostook War).

1841
An Act of Union unites Upper and Lower Canada (Feb. 10) as the Province of Canada.

c. 1842
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows breaks from the Manchester Unity, soon opening lodges in Montréal and Halifax.

1842
The Webster-Ashburton Treaty ends the Aroostook War, settling once and for all the Maine-New Brunswick border dispute (Aug.).

1843
Britain's claim to Vancouver Island is assured by Fort Victoria.

1844
Amnesty in Montréal provides for Papineau's return.

1848-51
The so-called Great Ministry of Robert Baldwin and Louis-H. Lafontaine outlines the principles of responsible government in the Canadas. The Maritimes are brought into the plan by Howe, then a reform-minded member of the House of Assembly.

1849
The boundary of the 49th Parallel is extended to the Pacific Ocean. An Act of Amnesty provides for W.L. Mackenzie's return from exile in the U.S.

1850
The site of By's headquarters during the construction of the Rideau Canal is incorporated as Bytown. Plains Indian culture is at its height, sustained by the use of horses and the exploitation of large game.

1851
Britain transfers control of the colonial postal system to Canada.

1852
Laval's Séminaire du Québec founds Université Laval, North America's oldest French Language university.

1852-53
The Grand Trunk Railway receives its charter.

1854
Canada and the U.S. sign a Reciprocity Treaty, ensuring reduction of customs duties (June 6).

1855
Bytown is renamed Ottawa.

1856
The Grand Trunk Railway opens its Toronto-Montréal line.

1857
Queen Victoria designates Ottawa as capital of the Province of Canada.

1858
The Halifax-Truro line begins rail service. Chinese immigrants from California arrive in British Columbia, attracted by the Fraser River Gold Rush.

1860
The cornerstone of the Parliament buildings is laid (Sept. 1).

1861
Howe becomes Premier of Nova Scotia.

1862
Mount Allison University accepts the first woman student in Sackville, N.B.

1864
Originally designed to discuss Maritime union, the Charlottetown Conference (Sept. 1-9) takes the first steps toward Confederation. The Québec Conference (Oct. 10-27) identifies the seventy-two resolutions that set out the basis for union.

1866
The Fenians, a group of radical Irish-Americans organized in New York in 1859 to oppose British presence in Ireland, begin a series of raids on Canadian territory in the hopes of diverting British troops from the homeland. The most serious of these was the Battle of Ridgeway (June 2), which lent a special urgency to the Confederation movement. The London Conference (Dec. 4) passes resolutions which are redrafted as the British North America Act.

1867
Confederation. Britain's North American colonies are united by means of the BNA Act to become the Dominion of Canada (July 1). Sir John A. Macdonald is Canada's first Prime Minister. Ottawa offically becomes capital of the Dominion.

Last reviewed shim12/19/2012 11:15:49 PM