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Sunday, August 23, 2015

How the Provinces and Territories of Canada Came To Be: A Chronological List With a Few Factoids

Ever wonder ( or try to remember) how and when the provinces and territories of Canada all came together? So did I. So here's a little timeline along with some factoids, an illustration and very cool youtube video on the topic. 


1867, July 1st  British North American Act / Confederation:

Nova Scotia

New Brunswick

Quebec ( Formerly known as: Canada East/ Lower Canada)

Ontario (Formerly known as: Canada West / Upper Canada)

***The North West Territories were existent at confederation ( as The North Western Territory) but by process of evolution and parceling off of this mass of land into other provinces and territories it became what it is today. The final boundaries were made when the Territory of Nunavit was formed.

1870, July 15th


With the transfer of Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory from the HBC to Canada ( This was the largest Real Estate deal in history surpassing even the Louisiana Purchase). Manitoba was originally a small square 1/18th the size of its present form. It was established due to the rebellion of the Metis people under Louis Riel


British Columbia

With the promise of a cross country wagon trail and railroad.  Vancouver Island was first formed as a colony in 1849. The main land became a colony on August 2nd 1858 and Vancouver Island joined it as “British Columbia” in 1866.


Prince Edward Island

Largely because of a crushing debt load due to a failed railroad, PEI joined the Confederation.

1876, October 7th 

District of Keewatin 

The District of Keewatin was formed out of an eastern portion of the North West Territories and covered much of the land north of Manitoba and Ontario. It reverted to a district of the NWT in 1905 and in 1912 much of it's land was given to Manitoba and Ontario. It formally ceased to exist with the creation of Nunavit in 1999. 


Britain transfers to Canada the Arctic Islands


Yukon Territory

Due in large part to the gold rush and the need for more policing and governance it was separated from the North West Territories.




Although there were many propositions for this territory (including dividing it laterally instead of horizontally) , Wilfred Laurier and the government decided to create these two provinces and to draw the boundary between AB and SK as an arbitrary straight line down the 110th meridian in order to “avoid concentrating too much power in the West…” (*Will Ferguson)


Manitoba and Ontario increase to their current size and shape by acquiring land from the North West Territories (Keewatin District).

1949, March 31st


After WW2 “Newfoundland’s strategic – and vulnerable – geographic position became clear.” (*Ferguson). It had three choices: 1) Remain under British administration 2) Become independent (and possibly American) 3) Join Canada. A referendum decided by a slight majority to join Canada.



“(The creation of Nunavit) is part of Canada’s natural evolution – as natural as the birth of Saskatchewan and Alberta in 1905, which were taken out of the old N.W.T. to give residents more control over their lives.” David F. Pelly

2001, December 6th

Newfoundland is renamed Newfoundland and Labrador 

"Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son... 
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river 
unto the ends of the earth." A Psalm for Solomon 

(Psalm 72 - This passage inspired the official motto of Canada "From Sea to Sea". ) 

Sources & Further Reading:

Above youtube video

Canadian History For Dummies, Will Ferguson


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