Acts and Treaties | The Canadian Encyclopedia

Acts and Treaties

Acts and Treaties through Canadian history

19th Century Map of Canada
  1. March 29, 1632

    Habitation at Quebec

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye

    France recovered Québec from England in the Treaty of Saint-Germain, along with compensation for goods siezed when Champlain surrendered Québec.

  2. July 21, 1667


    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty of Breda

    The Treaty of Breda provided for French restoration of the English part of the island of St Christopher's, West Indies, in exchange for Acadia, captured from the French in 1654.

  3. January 22, 1690

    Haudenosaunee Council Discussions

    Acts and Treaties 

    Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Peace Treaty

    The Haudenosaunee concluded a peace treaty with the English and the tribes of the Great Lakes.

  4. September 30, 1697

    Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville, soldier

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty of Ryswick

    The Treaty of Ryswick between England and France provided for the restoration of all Hudson's Bay Co posts seized by Pierre le Moyne d'Iberville.

  5. April 11, 1713

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty of Utrecht Signed

    The Treaty of Utrecht was signed, ending the War of the Spanish Succession. It recognized the claim of the Hudson's Bay Co to Rupert's Land, and Acadia became a permanent English possession.

  6. October 18, 1748

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle

    The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ended the War of the Austrian Succession. PEI, Cape Breton Island and Louisbourg were returned to France.

  7. February 10, 1763

    Death of Wolfe

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty of Paris 1763

    The Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Seven Years' War. France ceded to Britain all North American possessions except Saint-Pierre and Miquelon off Nfld, and Louisiana (sold in 1803). The treaty authorized freedom of religion in the colony.

  8. October 07, 1763

    Acts and Treaties 

    Royal Proclamation

    The Royal Proclamation was issued by King George III, setting the western boundary of British settlement following the Seven Years War. Historic, foundational, flawed, the Proclamation stated that Aboriginal title had existed and continued to exist. All land was considered Aboriginal land until ceded by treaty, which could only be annexed by the Crown.

  9. May 09, 1781

    Treaties in Ontario

    Acts and Treaties 

    Niagara Purchase of 1781

    The Niagara Purchase of 1781, also known as Treaty 381, was one of the first land agreements between Indigenous peoples and British authorities in Upper Canada (now Ontario). As a result, a 6.5-km-wide strip along the west bank of the Niagara River connecting Lake Erie and Lake Ontario was made available for settlement by Loyalists, who had been displaced by the American Revolution. The Niagara Purchase was one of many agreements made in the 1700s and 1800s that are collectively known as the Upper Canada Land Surrenders.

  10. September 03, 1783

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty of Paris 1783

    This treaty ended the American Revolution, recognizing the independence of the American colonies. The boundary between British and American territories was set along the St. Lawrence River and through the Great Lakes. Post-war life in the United States was very difficult for British Loyalists, who endured property loss and discrimination. Many left and began to arrive in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Québec and Ontario. Famous migrant Loyalists include Lieutenant James Moody, Laura Secord and Richard Pierpoint.

  11. May 22, 1784

    Map of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory Land Surrenders and Claims

    Acts and Treaties 

    Mohawk Families Arrive at Bay of Quinte

    During the American Revolution (1775–83), the British promised their allies, the Mohawks, that their homeland would be returned to them after the war. But when the revolution ended, the Treaty of Paris gave traditional Mohawk territory to the United States. The British instead offered the Mohawks their choice of any unsettled land in Upper Canada (now Ontario). They chose land along the north shore of Lake Ontario on the Bay of Quinte. About 20 Mohawk families (100–125 people) travelled by canoe from Lachine and arrived at the Bay of Quinte on 22 May 1784. (See also Crown Grant to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.)

  12. August 01, 1785

    Treaties in Ontario

    Acts and Treaties 

    John Collins’s Purchase of 1785

    John Collins’ Purchase of 1785 is one of the oldest land agreements between Indigenous peoples and British authorities in Upper Canada (now Ontario). It concerned the use of lands extending from the northwestern end of Lake Simcoe to Matchedash Bay, an inlet off Georgian Bay in Lake Huron. The purpose was to provide the British with a protected inland water route between Lake Ontario and Lake Huron, away from potential American interference. John Collins’s Purchase is one of many agreements made in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, known as the Upper Canada Land Surrenders.

  13. May 20, 1790

    Acts and Treaties 

    McKee’s Purchase of 1790

    McKee’s Purchase of 1790 (also known as the McKee Treaty or Treaty 2) was an early land agreement between Indigenous peoples and British authorities in Upper Canada (now Ontario). The southernmost Upper Canada treaty, it consisted of a large strip of territory from the southwestern shore of Lake Erie north to the Thames River and east to a point southwest of modern-day London, Ontario. This land was made available for settlement by Loyalists who were displaced by the American Revolution. McKee’s Purchase legitimized the land transfers of 1784 and 1786 as well as many other private illegal sales of Indigenous land to settlers.

  14. December 26, 1791

    Constitutional Act, 1791

    Acts and Treaties 

    Constitutional Act

    The Constitutional Act, which created the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada, came into effect. It had been passed 10 June and had received royal assent 19 June. The formal division of the Province of Québec had taken place 21 August.

  15. April 01, 1793

    Map of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory Land Surrenders and Claims

    Acts and Treaties 

    Crown Grant to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

    Upper Canada Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe executed Treaty 3½ or the Simcoe Deed to recognize the Mohawks’ contributions to the British during the American Revolution. The treaty granted the Mohawks some 92,700 acres (375 km2) on the Bay of Quinte, an area about the size of a township. However, the government gave Mohawk land to Loyalists, who continued to arrive between 1820 and 1843. As a result, the Mohawk tract was reduced ultimately to 18,000 acres (73 km2).

  16. January 11, 1794

    Nootka Sound

    Acts and Treaties 

    Third Nootka Convention

    The tug of war between Spain and Britain for control of trade and navigation along the Northwest Coast and in the Pacific Ocean ended with the signing of the third Nootka Convention. Over the course of the three conventions, both nations acknowledged their respective rights to trade at Nootka Sound, with neither permitted to claim total sovereignty or construct permanent garrisons and factories.

  17. November 19, 1794

    Acts and Treaties 

    Jay's Treaty Passed

    By Jay's Treaty, the British agreed to evacuate frontier posts by 1796. US shipping would have access to British possessions.

  18. March 30, 1809

    Atlantic puffins  in Newfoundland, 2013.

    Acts and Treaties 

    Labrador Act

    The Labrador Act gave Labrador to Newfoundland.

  19. December 24, 1814

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty of Ghent

    Peace talks between Great Britain and the United States took place in Belgium in August and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve. The British insisted the treaty be ratified by both governments before it took effect because the Americans refused to ratify three previous treaties.

  20. April 28, 1817

    Acts and Treaties 

    Rush-Bagot Agreement

    This agreement demilitarized the Great Lakes and, along with the Convention of 1818, solidified the border between the United States and British North America.

  21. October 20, 1818

    Forty-Ninth Parallel

    Acts and Treaties 

    Boundary Set at 49th Parallel

    The Convention of 1818 described the boundary between British North America and the US as a line from the farthest northwestern point of Lake of the Woods to the 49th parallel and thence west to the Rocky Mountains.

  22. August 01, 1834

    Richard Pierpoint

    Acts and Treaties 

    Abolition of Slavery Act

    Black people are now considered British subjects, paving the way for property-owning Black men to vote. But racism and discrimination at polling stations mean many do not cast their ballots. (See Slavery Abolition Act, 1833.)

  23. August 01, 1834

    Acts and Treaties 

    Emancipation Day

    The Abolition of Slavery Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1833, came into force.

  24. July 23, 1840

    Act of Union

    Acts and Treaties 

    Act of Union Assent

    The Act of Union joining Upper and Lower Canada received royal assent in England. It came into effect on 10 February 1841.

  25. February 10, 1841

    Act of Union

    Acts and Treaties 

    Act of Union in Effect

    The Act of Union came into effect, uniting Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada, a legislative union with 84 members divided equally between Canada East and Canada West.

  26. August 09, 1842

    Acts and Treaties 

    Webster-Ashburton Treaty

    The frontier between Canada and the US was defined by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which was signed by the US and Britain. The treaty also provided for the surveying, mapping and marking of the agreed NB-Maine boundary, and was completed in June 1847.

  27. June 26, 1846

    Acts and Treaties 

    Repeal of Corn Laws

    Royal assent was given to Robert Peel's Act repealing the Corn Laws, terminating the preferential treatment of Canadian grain in Britain.

  28. January 01, 1857

    Acts and Treaties 

    Gradual Civilization Act Passed in the Province of Canada

    The government attempts to assimilate First Nations men by offering them the right to vote if they voluntarily enfranchise. This means giving up rights, including treaty rights. Only one person elects to do so under this Act. (See also Indigenous Peoples in Canadian Law.)

  29. August 02, 1858

    Acts and Treaties 

    BC a Crown Colony

    An imperial Act provided for the government of British Columbia as a Crown colony, to include the Queen Charlotte Islands but excluding Vancouver Island; Victoria was the new capital.

  30. August 06, 1866

    Acts and Treaties 

    British Columbia Unites

    An imperial statute established the political union of Vancouver Island and the mainland of BC as the colony of British Columbia.

  31. May 22, 1867

    Acts and Treaties 

    Proclamation of Confederation

    A royal proclamation declared that the Dominion of Canada would come into existence on July 1.

  32. July 31, 1868

    Prince Rupert

    Acts and Treaties 

    Rupert's Land Act

    The Rupert's Land Act was passed, allowing the Crown to declare Rupert's Land part of the Dominion of Canada.

  33. May 12, 1870

    Acts and Treaties 

    Manitoba Act

    The Manitoba Act received royal assent. It created the province of Manitoba, Canada's fifth, and went into effect on 15 July.

  34. August 03, 1871

    Signing of Treaty 1

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty 1

    The first post-Confederation treaty was signed at Lower Fort Garry, Man. The first of many “Numbered Treaties,” Treaty 1 was signed between the Crown and the Ojibwe and Swampy Cree Nations. The treaty included the provision of livestock, agricultural equipment and the establishment of schools in exchange for ceding large tracts of Indigenous hunting grounds.

  35. August 21, 1871

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty 2

    Treaty 2 was concluded with Chippewa of Manitoba, who ceded land from the mouth of Winnipeg River to the northern shores of Lake Manitoba across the Assiniboine River to the United States frontier.

  36. October 03, 1873

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty 3

    Treaty 3 was signed by the Saulteaux (Chippewa) of northwestern Ontario and of Manitoba. For the surrender of a tract comprising about 55,000 sq. miles, the Dominion Government reserved not more than one square mile for each family of five and agreed to pay $12 per head and an annuity of $5 per head.

  37. September 15, 1874

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty 4

    Treaty 4 was signed at Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, with Cree, Saulteaux (Chippewa) and other First Nations.

  38. September 20, 1875

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty 5

    Treaty 5 was concluded at Lake Winnipeg ceding an area of approximately 100,000 sq. miles inhabited by Chippewa and Swampy Cree (Maskegon) of Manitoba and Ontario.

  39. April 12, 1876

    Indian Act

    Acts and Treaties 

    Indian Act

    The Indian Act is introduced. The Act aims to eradicate First Nations culture in favour of assimilation into Euro-Canadian society. The Act also reinforces that Status Indians must voluntarily give up status and treaty rights to vote federally. Status Indian women are barred from voting in band council elections.

  40. August 23, 1876

    Cree Encampment

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty 6

    Treaty 6 was signed at Carlton and at Fort Pitt with the Plains Cree, Woodland Cree and Assiniboine. It ceded an area of 120,000 sq. miles of the plains of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

  41. September 22, 1877

    Mékaisto (Red Crow)

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty 7

    Treaty 7 was signed at Blackfoot Crossing in southern Alberta by the Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, Tsuut'ina and Stoney. Canadian officials understood that by the treaty First Nations surrendered some 35,000 sq miles of land to the Crown in return for reserves, payments and annuities.

  42. January 01, 1885

    Acts and Treaties 

    Electoral Franchise Act

    The original draft of the Act gave federal voting rights to some women, but under the final legislation, only men can vote. The Act gives some Reserve First Nations with property qualifications the right to vote, but bars Chinese Canadians.

  43. March 03, 1887

    Acts and Treaties 

    Fisheries Retaliation Act

    The US passed the Fisheries Retaliation Act, which excluded Canadian vessels from US waters and stopped the importation of Canadian goods.

  44. June 21, 1899

    Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker), Plains Cree Chief, 1885

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty 8

    Cree, Beaver, Chipewyan and Slavey First Nations ceded territory south and west of Great Slave Lake in northern Alberta to the federal government in Treaty 8.

  45. April 08, 1904

    Acts and Treaties 

    Lansdowne-Cambon Convention

    By the Lansdowne-Cambon Convention France surrendered the right of French fishermen to land on certain coasts of Newfoundland to dry fish.

  46. July 11, 1906

    Acts and Treaties 

    Lord's Day Act Passed

    The Lord's Day Act, officially making Sunday a day of rest in Canada, was passed into law by the Senate. The Act restricted trade, labour and recreation on Sundays.

  47. January 11, 1909

    Acts and Treaties 

    Boundary Waters Treaty Signed

    The Boundary Waters Treaty was signed by the United States and Canada. Each country pledged that the boundary waters between them would not be polluted to the detriment of the health or property of the other. The treaty also created the International Joint Commission, which controlled water disputes between the signatories and prepared reports on environmental issues relevant to them. The treaty was one of the most significant international agreements of the time, and was a model for environmental dispute resolution.

  48. August 29, 1917

    Acts and Treaties 

    Military Service Act

    The Military Service Act was passed, making most male British subjects up to 45 years of age liable for active military service (Conscription).

  49. September 20, 1917

    Acts and Treaties 

    Wartime Elections Act and Military Voters Act

    Parliament passes the Wartime Elections ActThe right to vote federally now extends to women in the armed forces and female relatives of military men. However, Citizens considered of “enemy alien” birth and some pacifist communities are disenfranchised. 

  50. June 28, 1919

    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty of Versailles Signed

    The Treaty of Versailles, the peace settlement imposed on Germany after World War I, was signed near the French capital at Versailles. It took effect on January 10.

  51. July 01, 1920

    Acts and Treaties 

    Dominion Elections Act

    The Dominion Elections Act enfranchised many of those who had been disenfranchised during the First World War, such as those originating from countries with which Canada had been at war. However, the Act stated that anyone who was disenfranchised by provincial legislation because of race would remain disenfranchised from the federal vote. This included persons of Chinese origin in Saskatchewan, and those of Indigenous, Chinese, Japanese, and South Asian origins in British Columbia.

  52. March 02, 1923

    Fishing Vessels

    Acts and Treaties 

    Halibut Treaty

    The "Halibut Treaty" with the US was the first treaty signed independently by Canada, without the participation of an Imperial delegate.

  53. February 24, 1925

    Acts and Treaties 

    Lake of the Woods Treaty

    Canada signed a boundary treaty with the US, providing for an International Lake of the Woods Control Board.

  54. July 20, 1932

    Acts and Treaties 

    Ottawa Agreements

    Canada and Commonwealth countries signed 12 bilateral trade agreements in Ottawa providing for mutual tariff concessions and certain other commitments.

  55. January 01, 1934

    Acts and Treaties 

    Dominion Franchise Act

    Inuit and First Nations persons living on reserves are disqualified from voting in federal elections, except for First Nations veterans who had previously received the vote.

  56. April 20, 1941

    W.L.M. King and F.D. Roosevelt

    Acts and Treaties 

    Hyde Park Declaration

    Mackenzie King and F.D. Roosevelt signed the Hyde Park Declaration, uniting the economies of the two countries for war.

  57. May 14, 1946

    Acts and Treaties 

    Canadian Citizenship Act Passed

    The Canadian Citizenship Act was passed, to take effect 1 January 1947. The Act replaced British subject status with Canadian citizenship.

  58. January 01, 1947

    Acts and Treaties 

    Canadian Citizenship Act and repeal of Chinese Immigration Act

    Changes to federal legislation allow Chinese and South Asian Canadians to vote. However, it isn’t until 1951 that the final restrictions are lifted in provincial elections Canada-wide.

  59. January 01, 1948

    Acts and Treaties 

    Amendments to Dominion Elections Act

    Race is no longer grounds for exclusion from voting in federal elections. However, Status Indians still have to give up their Status in order to vote.

  60. December 16, 1949

    Acts and Treaties 

    Amendment to BNA Act

    The British North America Act was amended by the British Parliament so that the Canadian Parliament would have the power to amend its own constitution.

  61. January 17, 1961

    Columbia River

    Acts and Treaties 

    Columbia River Treaty

    PM John Diefenbaker and President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Columbia River Treaty, dealing with the co-operative development of the Columbia River. It became effective in 1964.

  62. September 16, 1964

    Acts and Treaties 

    Columbia River Treaty Effective

    The Columbia River Treaty became effective. It was signed in 1961.

  63. July 09, 1969

    Acts and Treaties 

    Official Languages Act (1969)

    The Official Languages Act was given assent, to come into effect on September 7. It declared English and French the official languages of the federal administration. Federal government services — including all services related to federal elections — must now be available in both French and English. (See Official Languages Act, 1969.)

  64. October 23, 1969

    Acts and Treaties 

    Bill 63 (Québec)

    Jean Jacques Bertrand's government introduces Bill 63, a controversial language bill that allowed parents the freedom to choose their children's language of instruction.

  65. June 26, 1970

    Acts and Treaties 

    Canada Extends Boundary

    Canada extended its former three-mile limit to its territorial waters to 12 miles with the passage of the Act to Amend the Territorial Sea and Fishing Zones Act. It was proclaimed August 1, 1970.

  66. December 02, 1971

    Acts and Treaties 

    Norway-Canada Agreement

    Norway and Canada signed a fishing and sealing agreement. Norway agreed to cease fishing in Canadian territorial waters.

  67. April 15, 1972

    Tanker Arrow Runs Aground

    Acts and Treaties 

    Water Quality Agreement

    Canada and the US signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

  68. July 31, 1974

    Acts and Treaties 

    Bill 22 Passed

    Bill 22 made French the language of civic administration and services, and of the workplace, in Québec.

  69. April 17, 1982

    Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

    Acts and Treaties 

    Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

    The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirms the right of every Canadian citizen 18 and older to vote and to stand as a candidate.

  70. December 15, 1984

    Acts and Treaties 

    Bill 101 Challenged

    The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the compulsory exclusive use of French on public commercial signs, as per Bill 101, was contrary to the right of freedom of speech. The Bourassa government reacted by introducing Bill 178, reinstating the use of French-only signs.

  71. July 21, 1988

    Acts and Treaties 

    War Measures Act Revoked

    The War Measures Act was revoked and replaced with the Emergencies Act, which prohibits discriminatory emergency orders, permits Parliament to override the emergency orders of the government, requires an inquiry into the actions of the government after any emergency and provides for compensation to the victims of government actions.

  72. June 28, 1991

    Acts and Treaties 

    BC Treaty Commission Created

    Federal, provincial and First Nations representatives agreed to create a treaty commission to co-ordinate treaty negotiations in BC, marking a fundamental change in the provincial government's policy toward First Nations.

  73. October 04, 1993

    Acts and Treaties 

    BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

    The BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, hailed as one of the strongest in the world, was proclaimed.

  74. March 11, 1999

    Acts and Treaties 

    Death of Camille Laurin

    Camille Laurin, psychiatrist, politician and president of the executive committee of the Parti Québécois, died at Montreal. Author of the white paper declaring French as the only official language of government, education and business in Québec, Laurin was known as the father of Bill 101.

  75. June 30, 1999


    Acts and Treaties 

    Treaty to Share Pacific Salmon

    Canada and the US signed a treaty governing the conservation and sharing of Pacific salmon, which migrate between waters of the two nations.

  76. September 13, 2018

    Treaties in Ontario

    Acts and Treaties 

    Agreement Reached in Williams Treaties Dispute

    In 1992, the seven Williams Treaties First Nations filed a lawsuit against the federal government asking for financial compensation for land surrenders and loss of rights dictated by the Williams Treaties. Ten years later, a trial began in which Canada and Ontario acknowledged limited off-reserve treaty harvesting rights, but litigation was dropped in favour of out-of-court negotiations. These began in March 2017. A negotiated settlement approved on 13 September 2018 gave financial compensation to the First Nations involved. It recognized their harvesting rights and allowed each First Nation to add up to 4,452 hectares to their reserves by purchase from willing sellers.