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Important Moments in Canadian History

Compiled by Dr. Robert J. Belton

1919 to 1945

Grand Trunk Pacific, the western division of the Grand Trunk Railway, consolidates a line from Winnipeg to Prince Rupert. The Canadian National Railways is created as a crown corporation to acquire and further consolidate these smaller lines. The first successful transatlanctic flight leaves St. John's, Nfld. (June 14). Beginning in the metals and buildings trades as a call for union recognition, a general strike expands until it paralyzes Winnipeg (May 19-June 26). An armed charge by the RCMP on Bloody Saturday kills one and injures thirty (June 21). James Shaver Woodsworth and others were charged with seditious conspiracy. The federal government passes a Technical Education act.

Canada joins the League of Nations at its inception. The Progressive Party is formed by T. A. Crerar to obtain law tariffs for western farmers.

Mackenzie King and the Liberals win federal election. Agnes Macphail becomes the first woman elected to Parliament, then representing the Progressive Party (which came in second and held the balance of power despite refusals to form an official opposition). Woodsworth becomes the first socialist elected to the House of Commons. The Bluenose is launched at Lunenburg, N.S. (Mar. 26). Colonial Motors of Walkerville, Ontario manufactures an automobile called the Canadian.

The Canadian Northern and Canadian Transcontinental Railways merge to form the Canadian National Railways. Canada's reveals a growing independence by not going to Britain's aid in the Chanak crisis in Turkey. Banting, Best, MacLeod, and Collip share the Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin. Foster Hewitt makes the first hockey broadcast. A Provincial Franchise Committee is organized in Québec to work towards female suffrage in the province. Of the other provinces, only Newfoundland has not yet given women the vote.

A feeling of independence continues to grow. Canada signs the Halibut Treaty with the U.S. without the traditional British signature. Mackenzie King leads the opposition to a common imperial policy at the Imperial Conference in London. Always heavily subsidized, the Grand Trunk Railway is finally taken over by the government. The federal government more or less forbids Chinese immigration on Dominion Day, soon to be called "Humiliation Day" by Chinese-Canadians.

Newfoundland women receive the right to vote.

The Balfour Report defines British dominions as autonomous and equal in status (Nov. 18).

Britain's Privy Council awards Labrador to Newfoundland instead of Québec (Mar. 1). The first coast-to-coast radio network broadcast celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation.

The Supreme Court of Canada rules that the BNA Act does not define women as "persons" and are therefore not eligible to hold public office.

The British Privy Council reverses the Supreme Court decision of 1928, and women are legally declared "persons" (Oct. 18). The Great Depression begins. the Workers' Unity League is formed.

The Conservatives under R.B. Bennett win federal election. Jean de Brébeuf and other Jesuit martyrs are officially canonized. Canada's first woman senator is Cairine Wilson.

The Statute of Westminster (Dec. 11) authorizes the Balfour Report (1926), granting Canada full legislative authority in both internal and external affairs. The Governor General becomes a representative of the Crown.

The Ottawa Agreements provide for preferential trade between Canada and other Commonwealth nations. Woodsworth plays a role in forming a democratic socialist political party, the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in Calgary. Bennett's government establishes militaristic and repressive Relief Camps to cope with the problem of unemployed single men. Doukhobours add the burning of farm buildings to their protest techniques.

The Bank of Canada is formed. The birth of the Dionne quintuplets attracts international media attention.

Inspired in part by the Workers' Unity League, about one thousand unemployed and disillusioned men from all over the western provinces begin a mass march, usually called the On-to-Ottawa trek, to confront Bennett over the Relief Camps (June 3-July 1). In an attempt to remove a corrupt Liberal administration, Maurice Duplessis, a Québec Conservative, allies with a splinter group of Liberals under Paul Gouin to form the Union nationale.

Driven by the reformist Union nationale, Duplessis manages to oust Gouin and becomes Premier of Québec.

The Rowell-Sirois Commission is appointed to investigate the financial relationship between the federal government and the provinces. Trans Canada Air Lines begins regular flights (Sept. 1).

Meeting Mackenzie King in Kingston, Franklin D. Roosevelt is the first U.S. president to make an official visit to Canada. The Workers' Unity League helps to organize the Vancouver Sit-ins in which Relief Camp workers and others occupied the Vancouver Post Office and some other public buildings. The protest was peaceful until the police extracted the men by force on Bloody Sunday (June 19), when 35 people were wounded.

Canada declares war on Germany (Sept. 10) after remaining neutral for a week following the British declaration. Premier Duplessis opposes Québec's participation but is defeated by the Liberals on the issue (Oct. 26).

The Unemployment Insurance Commission is introduced. Canada and the U.S. form a Permanent Joint Defense Board. Parliament passes the controversial National Resources Mobilization Act (June), which allows conscription for military service only within Canada. Despite provincial disagreement, some of the financial recommendations of the Rowell-Sirois commission -- especially those relating to a minimum national standard of services -- are implicitly and unilaterally adopted by Ottawa. Idola Saint-Jean and other early feminists finally succeed in obtaining the vote for Québecois women.

Hong Kong falls to the Japanese and Canadians are taken as POW's. The U.S. enters the war due to Japanese aggression. Together, the incidents lead to racial intolerance in Canada.

About 22000 Canadians of Japanese descent are stripped of non- portable possessions, interned and evacuated as security risks (Feb. 26). A national plebiscite approves amendment of the National Resources Mobilization Act to permit sending conscripts overseas (Apr. 27), once again revealing deep divisions between Québec and English Canada. The Dieppe raid (Aug. 19), Canada's first participation in the European theatre, is a disaster.

Canadians participate in the invasion of Sicily (July 10) and win the Battle of Ortona, a German stronghold on the Adriatic (Dec. 20- 28).

Canadian troops push further than other allied units on D-Day (June 6). Canadian forces fight as a separate army (July 23). The Family Allowance Act is passed (Aug.). The CCF under Tommy Douglas wins the provincial election in Saskatchewan, forming the first socialist government in North America.

European hostilities end (May 5). The first family allowance ("baby-bonus") payments are made (June 20). Canada joins the United Nations (June 26). Hostilities in the Pacific basin end (Sep. 2). Igor Gouzenko defects from the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa (Sept. 5) and reveals the existence in Canada of a Soviet spy network. Canada's first nuclear reactor goes on line in Chalk River, Ontario.

Last reviewed shim10/15/2015 11:36:06 AM