A Brief History
of Canada

1960 to 1979


Jean Lesage, representing the Liberal party, won the provincial election in Québec on June 22. This effectively began the Quiet Revolution in which French-Canadians press the federal government for special status within Confederation.

The Canadian Bill of Rights was approved.

People of the First Nation (Natives) were finally given the right to vote in federal elections.

Former prime minister Arthur Meighen died in Toronto, Ontario, on August 5.


The New Democratic Party was formed to replace the CCF (Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation).

The federal government established the Royal Commission on Health Services and the Agricultural Rehabilitation and Development Act.

PM John Diefenbaker fought for human rights outside of Canada by supporting non-white Commonwealth countries in gaining independence. His anti-apartheid speech was instrumental in causing South Africa's withdrawal from the Commonwealth.


Conservatives were returned to power with minority status after the federal election on June 18.

Socialized medicine was introduced in Saskatchewan on July 1, which would ultimately lead to a strike by doctors.

The Trans-Canada Highway opened on September 3.

Canada became the third country in space following the successful launch of the Alouette I satellite on September 29.

The last execution in Canada took place in Toronto on December 11.


Liberal Lester B. Pearson won a minority government on April 8. (read Pearson's biography)

The separatist Front de Libéation du Québec (FLQ) set off bombs in Montreal during April and May. (see also 1970)

A Trans Canada Airline flight crashed in Québec on November 29, killing 118 people.

The National Productivity Council (Economic Council of Canada) was created.

A Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism lead to a bilingual civil service throughout Canada.


Canadians were issued social insurance cards in April. Meanwhile, Northern Dancer became the first Canadian horse to win the Kentucky Derby.


The federal government established the Canada Pension Plan.

Canada and the United States signed the Auto Pact in January.

Canada inaugurated its new flag (red maple leaf on white with red side bars) on February 15.

Roman Catholic churches began to celebrate mass in English on March 7.

The Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario inadvertently caused the great eastern seaboard blackout of '65 on November 9. Millions were left without electrical power for days and thousands were trapped in elevators until rescued. (Incidentally, a major baby-boom occurred 9 months later.)


The Munsinger affair became Canada's first political sex scandal on March 4. Pierre Sévigny, the Associate Minister of National Defence, was connected with a German divorcée who had long been under investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The CBC introduced colour broadcasting to Canadian television on October 1.


As Minister of Justice, future prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau liberalized the laws concerning abortion and homosexuality. (Paraphrase: 'The government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.')

1967 - Canada's Centennial

The Canadian airforce, army and navy were unified as the Canadian Armed Forces on April 25.

Canada became the centre of world attention with the opening of Expo '67 in Montreal on April 27. (Expo '67 remains the most financially successful world exposition to date.)

Canadian centennial celebrations officially began on July 1.

French president Charles de Gaulle, on a visit to Canada, made a speech in Montreal and proclaimed "Vive le Québec libre" ('Long Live Free Quebec') on July 24.


Pierre Elliot Trudeau succeeded Lester Pearson as Liberal Party Leader and won a majority government in the federal election on June 25. (read Trudeau's biography) The election itself had an atmosphere of a media circus and Trudeau's popularity was dubbed 'Trudeaumania'.

The federal government appointed a Royal Commission on the Status of Women. Meanwhile, Canadian divorce laws were completely reformed.


Canada Post suspended Saturday delivery on February 1.

Abortion laws were liberalized in May.

Both English and French were recognized as official languages by the federal government on July 9 through the Official Languages Act, which guaranteed a bilingual civil service.

The breathalizer was first used as a test for drunk drivers on December 1.


The FLQ (Front de Libération de Québec, or the Quebec Liberation Front) kidnapped British trade commissioner James Cross on October 5, leading to the October Crisis. Québec's Minister of Labour and Immigration, Pierre Laporte was kidnapped on October 10. Québec Premier Robert Bourassa petitioned the federal government to invoke the War Measures Act, which PM Pierre Trudeau did on October 16. The FLQ was banned and almost 500 terrorists were arrested. James Cross was rescued, but Pierre Laporte was found murdered in the trunk of a car under what is now named the Pierre Laporte Bridge.

As Minister of Justice, future prime minister John Turner ammended the Criminal Code to outlaw hate propoganda. He also appointed Bora Laskin as Canada's first Jewish Justice of the Supreme Court.

Acid Rain: Thousands of Canadian lakes were found to be devoid of life. The United States Environmental Protection Agency increased smokestack height regulations which only allowed emissions to travel farther.


A policy of multiculturalism was officially adopted by the federal government. Meanwhile, Gerhard Herzberg of the National Research Council won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research into smog.


Paul Henderson scored the infamous goal which won Canada's first hockey challenge against the Soviets.

Former prime minister Lester B. Pearson died on December 27 in Ottawa, Ontario.

Trudeau's Liberal government was re-elected with a minority of only 2 seats.

Murial Fergusson was appointed as the first female Speaker of the Senate.


The United States' bombing of North Vietnam was criticized by the House of Commons on January 5.

Former prime minister Louis St. Laurent died at age 91 in Quebec City on July 25.

Dr. Henry Morgentaler was acquitted of illegal abortion charges in Montreal on November 13.

The separatist Parti Québecois became the official opposition in a Québec provincial election.


The Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario is renamed Ontario Hydro on March 4 and began the long task of erasing its tarnished image.

Russian ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov defected to Canada on June 29.

The Liberals under Pierre Trudeau won another majority government on July 8.


The beaver (castor canadensis) became a symbol of Canadian sovereignty by Royal assent on March 24.

The CN Tower in Toronto was completed on April 2 to become the world's tallest free-standing structure.

The Foreign Investment Review Agency was created on July 18 to screen foreign investment in Canada.

Television cameras were allowed in the House of Commons for the first time, giving most Canadians their first view of the government in action.

PM Pierre Trudeau initiated wage and price controls on October 14 in order to fight inflation.

Acid Rain: All power plants built in Canada after 1975 must have emission control systems.


Future prime minister Joseph 'Joe' Clark became Progressive Conservative Party Leader and set about reuniting the Conservative party which had become badly split over the Diefenbaker years. Clark managed to completely restructure the Party and overhauled the fundraising campaigns.

A 200-mile (320-kilometre) coastal fishing zone was announced by the federal government on June 4.

Canada abolished the death penalty on July 14.

Montréal played host to the Summer Olympic Games from July 17 to July 31. Following the kidnapping and murder of the Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972, security at the Montreal Olympics was understandably tight.

Team Canada won the first Canada Cup on September 15.

The Parti Québecois, under the leadership of René Lévesque, won the provincial election on November 15.

The Timothy Eaton Company (Eatons) discontinued catalogue sales after 92 continuous years. (Due to poor management, the store would eventually go bankrupt.)


Québec passed Bill 101 on August 26, restricting English schooling to children of parents who had been taught in English schools.

18-year-old Terry Fox, from Port Coquitlam. British Columbia, was diagnosed with cancer. His right leg was amputated just above the knee. (see 1980 & 1981)

Canada entered the metric age when all the highway signs (speed and distance) were changed to the metric system beginning on September 6.


The radioactive remains of a Soviet nuclear-powered satellite crashed in Canada's Arctic region on January 24.

Manufacturers of birth control pills were required to provide health risk labels for female smokers and for women over 40 years of age.

The Sun Life Insurance company publicly acknowledged that it had moved its head office from Montreal to Toronto due to Québec's language laws and political instability.

Acid Rain: Acid rain was formally recognized as a transborder problem.


At only 39 years of age, Progressive Conservative Joseph 'Joe' Clark, won a minority government in the federal election on May 22 and became Canada's youngest Prime Minister. (read Clark's biography)

PM Joe Clark drafted Canada's Freedom of Information Act but didn't have time to introduce it into the House of Commons. The Act was later adopted by the next Liberal government.

Former prime minister John Diefenbaker died on August 16 in Ottawa, Ontario. A special 'funeral' train carried Diefenbaker back to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where he was buried.

Canada's first gold bullion coin, stamped with a Maple Leaf, went on sale on September 5.

Hundreds of thousands of residents of Mississauga (Toronto) were successfully evacuated after a train loaded with cars containing toxic chemicals derailed on November 10.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled it unconstitutional on December 13 to create officially-unilingual legislatures in both Manitoba (English only) and Québec (French only). Meanwhile, PM Joe Clark and the Conservatives lost a vote of non-confidence on their budget (on December 13), forcing Joe Clark's resignation. Clark called a new leadership convention and lost to future prime minister Brian Mulroney.

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