A Brief History
of Canada

1930 to 1959


Conservatives Richard Bennett won the federal election to become prime minister. (read Bennett's biography)

PM Richard Bennett allocated $20 million to aid the unemployed during the depression and initiated preferential tariffs in order to strengthen Canada's trade, but the export market continued to slump.

Jean de Brébeuf, among other Jesuit martyrs, were officially canonized. (see also 1625)

Cairine Wilson became Canada's first female senator.


The Statute of Westminster, passed in England on December 11, finally authorized the Balfour Report of 1926. The Statute gave Canada full legislative authority in both internal and external affairs. The Governor General became the official representative of the Crown, relinquishing his/her power only at times when the reigning monarch would be on Canadian soil.

Future prime minister John Turner emigrated to Canada.


The Ottawa Agreements set the stage for preferential trade between Canada and other Commonwealth nations.

Meanwhile, James Woodworth was instrumental in forming a democratic socialist party called the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in Calgary.

The Conservative government established Relief Camps, run like military camps, to cope with number of unemployed single men during the depression.

The Doukhobours began to burn farm buildings, adding to their methods of protest. (see 1908)

The Canadian Radio Broadcast Corporation (later to become the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, or the CBC) was created.


Future prime minister Jean Chrétien was born on January 11 in Shawinigan, Québec. (see 1993)

The Bank of Canada was formed.

The Dionne quintuplets were born, attracting international media attention and becoming over-night celebrities.


The Canadian Wheat Board were created.

The On-to-Ottawa trek occurred from June 3 to July 1. Inspired by the Workers' Unity League, over 1,000 unemployed men from all across the western provinces began a mass protest march to Ottawa in order to confront PM Bennett over the atrocities of the Relief Camps.

In order to remove a corrupt Liberal administration, Québec Conservative Maurice Duplessis allied with a splinter group of Liberals under Paul Gouin in order to form the Union Nationale.

Liberal Mackenzie King re-elected (again) as prime minister. He would be prime minister throughout World War II (1939-1945)


Maurice Duplessis managed to oust Gouin from the Union and became Premier of Québec.


The Rowell-Sirois Commission was appointed in order to investigate the financial relationships between the federal and provincial governments. (see 1940)

Meanwhile, the Trans Canada Air Lines began regular flight services on September 1.

Former prime minister Robert Borden died in Ottawa, Ontario, on June 10.

Joseph-Armand Bombardier revealed his Bombardier Model B-7, a 16-horsepower bug-shaped vehicle which would travel over snow at speeds up to 40 kph (about 25 mph). (see also 1926 & 1959)


Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first President of the United States to make an official visit to Canada. He met with Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King in Kingston, Ontario.

TheWorkers' Unity League helped to organize the Vancouver Sit-Ins during which Relief Camp workers and sympathetics occupied the Vancouver Post Office and other public buildings. The protests were peaceful until Bloody Sunday, June 19, when police entered the buildings and removed the protesters by force. Thirty-five people were injured in the scuffle.

Former prime minister Richard Bennett emigrated to Britain. (see also 1941 & 1947)

Ottawa collected $42 million in income tax. (see also 1943)


Canadian ingenuity flourished throughout the war, having a profound effect on the future of the world:

Norman Breakey of Toronto, Ontario, invented the paint roller. Unfortunately, he didn't have the finances to defend his roller with patents and he died without receiving a single penny from his his invention.

Canadian researchers invented Pill #2-183 which was very effective in preventing sea sickness.

The National Research Council was instrumental in developing radar. The Halifax Naval Base in Nova Scotia was the first military establishment in North America to be protected by radar.

The first practical election microscope was built at the University of Toronto.

W. R. Franks invented an anti-G suit which prevented pilots from blacking out on sharp turns or steep dives. The anti-G suits were used exclusively by American fighter pilots in the Pacific after 1942.

Peter Webb invented a cold-weather suit which protected downed pilots from the cold oceanic waters.


Future prime minister Brian Mulroney was born on March 20 in Baie-Comeau, Québec. (see 1984)

Future prime minister Joseph Clark was born on June 5 in High River, Alberta. (see 1979)

Canada entered World War II on September 10, one week after Britain's declaration of war against Germany. Until then, Canada had remained neutral. Premier Duplessis opposed Québec's participation in the war, but was eventually defeated by the Liberals on October 26.


The federal government introduced the Unemployment Insurance Commission.

Canada and the United States co-operate to form a Permanent Joint Defence Board. Meanwhile, Canadian parliament passed the highly-controversial National Resources Mobilization Act in June, which would allow conscription (draft) for military service only within Canadian territory in case the war moved to North America.

While most provinces were in disagreement, Ottawa adopted several of the financial recommendations of the Rowell-Sirois Commission, especially those recommendations relating to a minimum national standard of service.

Idola Saint-Jean and other French-Canadian feminists finally succeeded. Québec women won the right to vote.

The War Exchange Conservation Act banned all nonessential imports from the United States.


Hong Kong fell to the Japanese and Canadian troops were taken as POW's. Meanwhile, the United States entered the war due to growing Japanese aggressions. Combined, the incidents lead to racial intolerance in Canada.

Former prime minister Richard Bennett was made Viscount Bennett and served in the British House of Lords from 1941 to his death in 1947.


In February, over 22,000 Japanese-Canadians, multi-generational or otherwise, were stripped of all non-portable possessions, listed as security risks and removed to security camps where they remained throughout the war. Many had few (if any) connections to Japan.

An amendment of the National Resources Mobilization Act which would allow conscripts to be sent overseas for active duty was passed by a national plebiscite (vote) on April 27. This only lead to the divisions between French and English Canada.

Canada's first participation in the European theatre, the Dieppe raid on August 19, was a total disaster.

PM Mackenzie King oversaw the construction of the Alaska Highway. Originally known as the 'Alcan Military Highway' and built in response to the threat of a Japanese invasion on the west coast, the highway ran from Dawson Creek, British Columbia and Fairbanks, Alaska, a distance of 2,450 km (1,500 miles). Ten thousand soldiers and 6,000 civilians completed the highway within 8 months, a job that would normally have taken 5 years.

Future prime minister John Diefenbaker blocked a Conservative attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.


Canadians joined the Allies in the invasion of Sicily on July 10. Later, from December 20 to 28, Canada won the Battle of Ortona, which had been a major German stronghold on the Adriatic Sea.

Ottawa collected $815 million in income tax. (see also 1938)


D-Day, June 6. Canadians advanced further than any other allied unit. Later, on July 23, Canada fought as a separate army.

The Family Allowance Act was passed in August.

The first socialist government in North America was formed when the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) under Tommy Douglas won the provincial election in Saskatchewan.

Over one million Canadian women were working full-time.

A 24-kilometre (15-mile) long lake was drained at Steep Rock, Ontario, in order to mine the world's richest iron-ore bed. The task was ultimately larger than the dredging of the Panama Canal.

At the age of 10, the Dionne Quintuplets retired from the public spotlight.


Future prime minister Lester B. Pearson was the Canadian Ambassador to the United States, during which time he attended the conference which founded the United Nations. He was also influential in gaining Canada's admittance to NATO (North America Treaty Organization).


European hostilities drew to a close on May 5. Pacific basin hostilities ended on September 2.

Thousands of sailors rioted in Halifax, Nova Scotia, following Germany's surrender. Unhappy with Halifax's strict liquor laws, they ransacked liquor stores and breweries. Three people were killed and over 200 were arrested.

The first family allowance cheques ('Baby Bonus') were issued on June 20, guaranteeing a universal monthly stipend to every child in Canada under the age of 16.

Canada joined the United Nations on June 26.

Russian Igor Gouzenko defected from the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa on September 5 and announced the existence of a Soviet spy network in Canada.

Canada's first nuclear reactor went on line in Chalk River, Ontario.


Future prime minister Avril (Kim) Campbell was born on March 10 in Port Alberni, British Columbia. (Avril's mother left home when Avril was only 12. Avril changed her name to 'Kim' shortly thereafter.) (see 1993)

Former prime minister Richard Bennett died in Mickleham, Surrey, England on June 26. He is buried in the small Mickleham churchyard and remains the only Canadian prime minister not to be buried in Canada.

deHaviland's DHC-2 Beaver, the world's first short takeoff and landing (STOL) plane, began flying. The Beaver, built for the Canadian wilderness, could land and take off on land, water or ice and became Canada's all-time best-selling aircraft and became popular in remote countries around the world. Of the original 1,692 Beavers built, over 1,200 are still in service.


Louis St. Laurent succeeded Mackenzie King as prime minister on November 15. (read St. Laurent's biography)

Canadian John P. Humphrey was the architect behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations document which proclaimed "equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family".

Map of Canada 19491949

Joey Smallwood became the last Father of Confederation when Newfoundland became the 10'th and last province of Canada on March 31.

Canada joined NATO (North American Treaty Organization).

Canada's Supreme Court finally replaced Britain's judicial committee as the final court of appeal.

PM Louis St. Laurent created the Trans-Canada Highway Act.


Research indicated increased levels of acid found in Canadian and Scandinavian lakes due to 'acid rain. (see indications marked 'Acid Rain:')


Volunteers in the Canadian Army Special Force joined the United Nations forces in the Korean conflict.

Former prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King died in Kingsmere, Québec, on July 22.

Future prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau co-found the newspaper Cité Libre ('Free City').


Canadian census set Canada's population at just over 14 million.

The Massey Royal Commission reported that American influences were dominating Canadian cultural life. The commission recommended improving government grants to universities and the establishment of the Canada Council. (see 1957)

In October, this Webmaster was born.


Vincent Massey (brother of actor Raymond 'Arsenic and Old Lace' Massey) became the first Canadian-born Governor General by appointment of PM Louis St. Laurent.

Canada's first television stations began part-time broadcasting in September in Montreal and Toronto.

Future prime minister Lester B. Pearson was President of the United Nations General Assembly, during which time he attempted to resolve the Korean conflict.


The National Library was created in Ottawa on January 1.

Meanwhile, the Stratford Festival opened on July 13 and the Korean War ended on July 27.


Construction began on the St. Laurence Seaway.

A brief economic slump interrupted the post-war boom.

Toronto opened Canada's first subway system in Toronto on March 31.

Two runners in the British Empire games in Vancouver broke the 4-minute-mile in the same race.

Marilyn Bell became the first person to swim across Lake Ontario on September 9.

Hurricane Hazel hit Toronto, Ontario on October 15, killing over 80 people.


The Canadian Labour Congress was formed.

Hockey fans rioted in Montreal following the suspension of favourite Rocket Richard on March 17.


The Pipeline Debate (May 8 to June 6) began with concern over the funding of the natural gas industry. Liberals used 'closure' to limit the debate which ended in controversy over proper parliamentary procedure. This action by the Liberals lead directly to their defeat in the next federal election after 22 years in power.

The Suez Crisis rose to a boil as British and French troops entered Egypt in an attempt to gain control over the Suez Canal. When hostilities worsened, future prime minister Lester B. Pearson approached the United Nations and suggested the creation of a multinational peace keeping force which would be installed into the war zone to make certain that cease-fires were maintained and to oversee the withdrawal of any troops as necessary. The United Nations readily agreed to the proposal and the First United Nations Peace-Keeping Force, lead by Canadian troops, entered the Suez and brought it to a successful and peaceful end, effectively preventing what could easily have become yet another world war.

Progressive Conservative John Diefenbaker won a minority government on June 10 (read Diefenbaker's biography) and appointed Ellen Fairclough became Canada's first female cabinet minister.

The Canada Council was formed to encourage uniqueness and to overcome American influences on Canadian culture. (see 1951)


Future prime minister Lester B. Pearson won the Nobel Prize for Peace on October 12 after having helped to create the United Nations Peace-Keeping Corps and for successfully resolving the Suez Crisis.


PM John Diefenbaker's minority government went on to become the largest majority government ever obtained in a federal election on March 31.

The Canadian Bill of Rights was established.

James Gladstone became Canada's first Aboriginal senator under appointment by Diefenbaker in an attempt to draw other minorities into the national identity.

The Springhill coal mine disaster in Nova Scotia killed 74 miners.


Despite public outcry and protest, Diefenbaker cancelled the Avro Arrow project (CF-105 aircraft) on February 20. Almost 14,000 Canadians suddenly became unemployed.

The St. Lawrence Seaway opened to traffic on June 26, allowing ocean-going ships and tankers to travel inland to both Canadian and American ports on the upper and lower Great Lakes.

Joseph-Armand Bombardier placed the world's first personal snow vehicle, the Ski-Doo on the market. (see also 1926 & 1937)

- 1599 1600 - 1699 1700 - 1799 1800 - 1866
1867 - 1899 1900 - 1929 1930 - 1959 1960 - 1979
1980 -   History Menu