Discovering the history of Canada's official languages

Official Languages Timeline collage

150 Years of History

Canada’s official languages belong to all Canadians, regardless of their linguistic background or whether they are unilingual, bilingual or multilingual.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages created an interactive timeline that presents the major historical milestones of Canada’s official languages.

Looking at the timeline, it’s fascinating to note, for example, that in 1867, both English and French were officially permitted in the Parliament of the newly formed country. A resolution for the mandatory use of English and French in certain areas of Parliament became section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867. From that moment on, linguistic duality would help shape Canada’s image, and both English and French would become an integral part of its history. Over the years, many events have promoted the equality of English and French within federal institutions and brought about progress in Canadian society as a whole.

The interactive timeline features inspiring stories, like the Battle of the Hatpins. On January 4, 1916, faced with a provincial law banning French instruction, French-speaking mothers and teachers at Guigues Elementary School in Ottawa were determined to defend French-language education for their children and students. They confronted the police and took back their school, guarding it with their now-famous hatpins!

To discover the nearly 350 entries in the timeline—searchable by decade, by province/territory or by type of event—visit our timeline. It’s full of wonderful discoveries to share on social media!

Published on Monday, November 06, 2017

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