Each year on July 1, Canadians celebrate their history and patriotism by observing Canada Day—a holiday that is often likened to Fourth of July in the U.S. While many people know that this festive national holiday commemorates the Constitution Act of 1867, other events surrounding the establishment of Canada and the creation of Canada Day may be forgotten. Brush up on your history by reviewing this timeline of notable dates throughout the country’s past:
- June 24, 1497 — John Cabot lands near Labrador and declares a new continent in the name of King Henry VII of England.
- August 13, 1535 — French explorer Jacque Cartier becomes the first European to sail into the St. Lawrence River, believing it to provide a route to Asia. He is accompanied by two Iroquois guides, who refer to their native village as “Canada.” This is possibly the first time that a European settler has been exposed to the country’s future name.
- July 7, 1667 — After more than fifty years of conflict, Alexandre de Prouville de Tracy negotiates the first genuine peace treaty between the French and the Iroquois.
- February 10, 1763 — The Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years’ War between Britain and France. Britain claims possession of Canada.
- June 22, 1774 — The British Parliament passes the Quebec Act, which establishes French civil law, British-based criminal law, and religious freedom for Catholics in Canada.
- March 29, 1778 – James Cook and George Vancouver become the first known Europeans to land at British Columbia.
- June 10, 1791 — Britain’s Canada Act divides the country into Upper and Lower Canada.
- December 31, 1857 — Queen Victoria declares Ottawa as the country’s new capital.
- July 1, 1867 — With the Constitution Act, the Dominion of Canada is established, uniting Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. John A. Macdonald is named the first prime minister.
- 1879 — A federal law marks July 1 as a statutory holiday (later called “Dominion Day”) to celebrate the anniversary of Confederation.
- October 27, 1982 — Dominion Day is officially renamed Canada Day.