So, today is 30th June, which means tomorrow is 1st July. The 1st of July is a sacred day for all Canadians around the world. It is the birthdate of Canada, the celebration of our confederacy, affectionately known as Canada Day.
This year, Canada is turning a grand 150 years old, so the entire country has been building up to tomorrow by means of special edition Tim Hortons coffee cups and Timbits boxes (if you don’t already know, Tim Hortons is our national treasure).
To the rest of the world, Canada is a great country filled with of polite people, maple syrup, meese, and Double Double coffees (2 creams, 2 sugars). And it’s true. That’s why the rest of the world thinks that. What you may not know, however, is that although Canada has a short history, it is filled with both tragedies and triumphs. Here’s a brief overview of several significant events that happened throughout the years.
Sometime really early in history – prehistoric hunters sail over into Canada from Asia: this is pretty self-explanatory.
Early 1600s – Samuel de Champlain establishes a French colony in Québec City: Québec City is also referred to as Québec (much like New York City) and is the capital of the province of Québec, which confuses people because when they say ‘Québec’, it could mean Québec the city or Québec the province. Anyway, the province of Québec remains one of our few French-speaking provinces and both French and English are national languages of Canada.
1812-14 – War of 1812: Canada was involved because the UK was involved and we were invaded a bunch of times by the Americans (silly Americans). At this time, Canada was divided into Lower Canada and Upper Canada (which is now Ontario, where I live). Ironically, Lower Canada was actually northeast of Upper Canada, so it wasn’t lower than Upper Canada, that’s just what it was called. Sadly, the War of 1812 did not end well for First Nations peoples (indigenous peoples of Canada) as more and more American and European settlers took over their lands.
Fun fact: the name ‘Canada’ actually comes from the word kanata which means ‘village’ in St Lawrence Iroquoian, a First Nations confederacy.
1837-38 – Rebellions against Great Britain rule the Canadas: yes, never forget that there were, at one point in time, two Canadas. In any case, this was the beginning of our journey to independence.
1867 – Confederation: 150 years ago tomorrow! Four provinces, Québec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, confederated to become our first united Canada. Is ‘confederated’ a word?
1870 – The Red River Resistance takes place and the NorthWest Territories join Canada: the province of Manitoba was created as a result. This had something to do with a Métis man called Louis Riel, whose name gives me bad memories of Grade 8 History. Very generally, this was a land dispute between Canada and First Nations peoples, which unfortunately is a common thread throughout Canada’s history. In fact, the conflict between the government of Canada and our First Nations peoples is still ongoing today.
1871 – British Columbia joins Canada
1873 – Prince Edward Island joins Canada
1885 – North-West Rebellion: Louis Riel staged another rebellion, but this time he was convicted of treason and hanged.
1898 – The Yukon joins Canada
1905 – The provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan are created
1914-1918 – WWI: Canada’s victories included the Battles of Ypres, Vimy Ridge, and Passchendaele. These victories gave us our first taste of national pride and the confidence that we could stand on our own without the British Empire. Yeah, that’s right – we don’t need you! Fun fact: ‘In Flanders Fields’ was written by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.
1939-45 – WWII: not much to say about this one…we joined NATO! Our biggest battle victory was Dieppe.
1949 – Newfoundland joins Canada: there are 10 provinces and 3 territories in Canada, Newfoundland was the last province to join Canada.
1960 – Quiet Revolution: this revolution shows how polite Canadians are. Just kidding! This was the eruption of the conflict between French- and English-speaking Canadians, which had been brewing since WWI. In the province of Québec, the Liberal Party took over from the Union Nationale (essentially, a separatist party) with 51.5% of the vote and the slogan ‘It’s time for a change.’
1967 – Canada turns 100 years old!
1980 – Québec referendum No. 1: the referendum was called by the Parti Québecois, who advocated for (essentially) the secession of Québec from Canada; the referendum ended with a 59.56% majority voting non.
1982 – Constitution Act, 1982 and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: the Charter becomes enshrined in the Constitution. The Constitution Act 1982 cemented our independence from Britain. Master has given Dobby a sock. DOBBY IS FREE! (Nerd alert – I’m not even sorry)
1993 – Kim Campbell was elected Prime Minister: Kim Campbell was the first and (so far) only female Prime Minister of Canada. She held office from June to September 1993 before resigning.
1995 – Québec referendum No. 2: a similar referendum calling for Québec’s secession from Canada came to a narrow majority of 50.58% saying no. So, just to be clear, Québec is still a part of Canada and will always be a part of Canada. Also, it seems that opinions in Canada are pretty equally divided, since narrow majorities are a running theme here. Or maybe we’re just indecisive and make impulsive decisions at the voting polls. Who knows?
1999 – Nunvaut joins Canada: our newest territory of all our provinces and territories!
2015 – Justin Trudeau becomes our Prime Minister: enough said.
Now, if you ever do a pub quiz and they ask you a question about Canada, you’ll be prepared! I hope you feel like you understand Canada a little better now. I am so proud to be Canadian, the big, beautiful land from which Ryan Reynolds, Michael J Fox, and Justin Trudeau were spawned. Happy Canada Day, everyone!