Printer-friendly > FCCS > About > FCCS Links > Instructional Resources > Important Moments in Canadian History > 1868 to 1918

Important Moments in Canadian History

Compiled by Dr. Robert J. Belton

1868 to 1918

Thomas D'Arcy McGee, one of the fathers of Confederation and an outspoken enemy of the Fenians, becomes Canada's first assassination victim at the hands of a Fenian (Apr. 7).

Canada purchases Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company. Threatened by Canadian purchases of Hudson's Bay territories, Louis Riel leads the Métis in occupying Fort Garry on the site of Winnipeg (Nov.).

Demand for leather goods leads to the destruction of northen bison herds, which in turn leads to the collapse of the western native economy.

The Red River Rebellion continues to resist Canadian authority in the northwest. A provisional government is declared (Jan.) but they were driven out by General Wolseley (Aug.) The Manitoba Act creates the province of Manitoba and quells the rebellion.

British Columbia joins confederation (July 20).

Prince Edward Island joins Confederation. A period of economic depression begins. The North-West Mounted Police are formed. Macdonald resigns over the Pacific Scandal (Nov. 5), which brought attention to huge campaign contributions made by Sir Hugh Allan in exchange for a charter to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. Alexander Mackenzie, a Liberal, becomes Canada's second prime minister.

Riel is elected to the House of Commons but cannot take the seat (Feb.). Alexander Graham Bell discloses the invention of the telephone to his father at the family home on the outskirts of Brantford, Ontario (July 26). Anabaptists (Russian Mennonites) start to arrive in Manitoba from various Russian colonies.

Riel is granted amnesty with the condition that he be banished for five years. The Supreme Court of Canada is established. Bell's first functioning telephone is demonstrated in Boston (June). Jennie Trout becomes the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Canada, although Emily Stowe has been doing so without a license in Toronto since 1867. Grace Lockhart receives from Mount Allison University the first Bachelor of Arts degree awarded to a woman.

The Intercolonial Railway, growing out of the Halifax-Truro line, links central Canada and the Maritimes (July 1). The world's first long-distance phone call connects the Bell residence with a shoe and boot store in nearby Paris, Ontario (Aug. 10). The Toronto Women's Literary CLub is founded as a front for the suffrage movement.

The provincial legislature creates the University of Manitoba, the oldest University in western Canada.

The Conservatives under Macdonald win federal election. Anti- Chinese sentiment in British Columbia reaches a high point as the government bans Chinese workers from public works.

Macdonald introduces protective tariffs, a transcontinental railway, and immigration to the west in his National Policy (Mar. 12).

Emily Stowe is finally granted a license to practice medicine in Toronto.

The Canadian Pacific Railway recruits thousands of underpaid Chinese Labourers.

Augusta Stowe, daughter of Emily, is the first woman to graduate from the Toronto Medical School. The Toronto Women's Suffrage Association replaces the Literary Club of 1876.

Riel, who had become an American citizen in Montana in 1883 only to return to Canada in 1884, leads the North West Rebellion. The Métis are defeated at Batoche (May 2-9) and Riel is hanged in Regina (Nov. 16). The last spike of the transcontinental railway is put in place in the Eagle Pass, B.C. (Nov. 7).

The Liberals choose Wilfred Laurier as leader. The first provincial Premiers' conference takes place in Québec City.

Manitoba Liberals under Thomas Greenway halt public finding of Catholic schools (Mar.). Isaac Shupe invents a curious sheet-metal clothing scrubber that automatically releases soap.

The National Council of Women of Canada is founded.

The Yukon is made into a provisional district separate from the Northwest territories.

The economic depression ends. Liberals under Laurier (the first French Canadian prime minister) win federal election partly on the Manitoba Schools Question, though his compromises are not instituted until 1897. Gold is discovered in the Klondike (Aug. 16).

L.T. Snow patents a simple mechanical meat grinder.

The Klondike Gold Rush is fully under way. The Yukon provisional district is identified as a Territory separate from the Northwest Territories. Doukhobours begin to settle in Saskatchewan.

The first Canadian troops sent overseas participate in the Boer War in South Africa (Oct. 30). Canada's first woman lawyer is Clara Brett Martin.

Canadian-born Reginald Fessenden makes the first wireless radio broadcast near Washington, D.C. (Dec. 23), narrowly beating Marconi, who receives the first transatlantic radio message at St. John's, Newfoundland, in the following year.

Canada loses the Alaska boundary dispute when British tribunal representative Lord Alverstone sides with the U.S. (Oct. 20). Silver is discovered in Northern Ontario. The first nude demonstrations of the Doukhobours take place near Yorkton, Saskatchewan, to protest governmental policy regarding individual ownership.

The Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan are formed.

Sir Adam Beck creates the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario (May 7), the largest such company in Canada.

Peter Verigin, leader of the Doukhobours since his arrival in Canada in 1902, leads the extremist Sons of Freedom to British Columbia.

The Department of External Affairs is formed. The first Grey Cup is played. Canada's first powered air flight takes place at Baddeck, N.S.

Laurier creates a Canadian navy the Naval Service Bill.

Robert Borden and the Conservatives win federal election, defeating Laurier on the issue of Reciprocity.

A botanist, Carrie Derrick, is Canada's first woman professor, at McGill University.

The C.P. ship Empress of Ireland sinks in the St. Lawrence within fifteen minutes of a collision in dense fog. Over one thousand lives are lost (May 29). With nearly four hundred passengers on board, the Komagata Maru drops anchor in Burrard Inlet, sparking political manoeuvres intended to exclude unwanted Sikh immigrants (May-July). Britain declares war on Germany (Aug. 4), automatically drawing Canada into the conflict. The first Canadian troops leave for England (Oct. 3). Parliament passes the War Measures Act, allowing suspension of civil rights during periods of emergency.

In their first battle, the 1st Canadian Division face one of the first recorded chlorine gas attacks at Ypres, Belgium (Apr. 22). John McCrae writes "In Flanders' Fields." National Transcontinental, the eastern division of the Grand Trunk Railway, consolidates a line from Moncton to Winnipeg.

The Parliament buildings are destroyed by fire (Feb. 3). The 1st Canadian Division discovers that the Canadian-made Ross rifle (controversial since 1905) is unreliable in combat conditions. It is withdrawn from service and replaced by the British-made Lee- Enfield (Aug.). The National Research Council is established to promote scientific and industrial research. Female suffrage is first granted in Canada in Manitoba.

Income tax is introduced as a temporary wartime measure. Borden sits as a member of the Imperial War Cabinet (Feb. 23), giving Canada a voice in international war policy. The military service bill is introduced (June 11), leading to a conscription crisis dividing French and English Canada. A Union Government (a coalition of Liberals and Tories) under Borden wins in a federal election, in which all women of British origin are allowed to vote for the first time. Canadians capture Vimy Ridge, France (Apr. 9-12) and Passchendaele, Belgium (Nov. 6), in two of the war's worst battles. The explosion of a munitions ship in Halifax harbour wipes out two square miles of Halifax, killing almost 2000 and injuring 9000 (Dec. 6). In Alberta, Louise McKinney becomes the first woman elected to a legislature in the British Commonwealth.

Canadians break through the German trenches at Amiens, France (Aug. 8), beginning "Canada's Hundred Days." Armistice ends the war (Nov. 11). Imprisoned in South Dakota for pacificism, Hutterites flee northward into the Prairie provinces.

Last reviewed shim12/19/2012 11:16:01 PM