Since 1867

Official Languages in Canada

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Railway map of province of Ontario, 1875
1867

In Ontario, Francophone communities are established along railway routes

Industrialization and railway construction make this a period of prosperity for the province.
Métis camp on the Elbow of North Saskatechewan River
1870

Talle-de-Saules (now Willow Bunch), Saint-Laurent-de-Grandin and Batoche leave their mark in Saskatchewan

These new communities, created by Métis families trying to preserve their semi-nomadic lifestyle, are established in regions that will later become part of Saskatchewan.
St-Boniface Hospital in 1910
1871

The Grey Nuns, a Francophone religious order, found the St-Boniface Hospital in Manitoba

The first hospital in Western Canada starts out with only four beds to meet the health care needs of the people of the new province of Manitoba.
François-Xavier Mercier
1874

Francophone trader François-Xavier Mercier goes head to head with the Hudson’s Bay Company

Mercier builds a trading post in the Yukon, and his efforts will have a major impact on the development of the territory.
1880

The Indian Residential Schools system is officially established

Imposing English and French at residential schools has a devastating impact on Indigenous languages and cultures in Canada.
Post stamps "Acadian"
1881

Acadians assert themselves as a people with a distinct national identity

The first Acadian national convention is held in Memramcook, New Brunswick, and will become the foundation of what modern Acadia is today.
Image "Nous sommes tous Acadiens" "We are all Acadians"
August 15, 1881

National Acadian Day

August 15 is chosen as National Acadian Day.
"Buffalo Bull", a Cree Indian
1882

The name “Saskatchewan” is used for the first time

The word “Saskatchewan” is derived from an anglicized version of a Cree word, kisiskâciwanisîpiy, meaning “swiftly flowing river.”
Acadian Flag Drawing
1884

A blue, white and red flag with a yellow star is raised in Miscouche, Prince Edward Island

The flag becomes the symbol of the Acadians of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Louis Riel addressing the jury during his trial for treason.
November 16, 1885

Métis leader Louis Riel is executed

Louis Riel is at the centre of the Red River and North-West rebellions.
July 17, 1887

The Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba is created

It is the leading Métis organization in Canada.
Mgr Adélard Langevin, founding member and first president of the Société historique de Saint-Boniface
September 4, 1902

The Société historique de Saint-Boniface is founded

The organization’s mission is to preserve the richness of French-Canadian heritage.
Cattle show at the 1955 Agricultural Exhibition.
1903

The Evangeline area hosts its first agricultural exhibition

The Agricultural Exhibition promotes education and excellence in agriculture.
September 1, 1905

Alberta and Saskatchewan join Confederation

Alberta becomes a province due in large part to the efforts of Sir Frederick William Alpin Gordon Haultain, a lawyer and member of the Council of the Northwest Territories and the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.
The historic church of Our Lady of Lourdes on Laval Square in Maillardville, British Columbia
1909

Notre Dame de Lourdes is the first Francophone workers’ community in British Columbia

The community takes root on the banks of the Fraser River east of Vancouver.
Explorers at a territory that will become Nunavut. Joseph-Elzéar Bernier is the second one from the left.
1909

Francophone explorers establish a Canadian presence in the territory that will become Nunavut

Between 1904 and 1911, explorer Joseph-Elzéar Bernier leads four expeditions to the Arctic for the Canadian government.
1912

Local chapters of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste are established in Saskatchewan

Because they are a minority in Western Canada, French and French-Canadian pioneers seek to preserve their language.
Logo of the Assemblée communautaire Fransaskoise
1912

The Société du parler français en Saskatchewan is founded

The Société is created in Duck Lake, with the goal of bringing together French Canadians in Saskatchewan in order to promote, protect and defend their interests and their rights.
Anti-conscription parade at Victoria Square.
August 4, 1914

The First World War breaks out

When the United Kingdom goes to war, Canada—a British dominion—is also officially at war. The war deepens the divide between English and French Canada like never before. In 1918, the Military Service Act will impose conscription on all Canadian men between the ages of 20 and 45 for overseas service.
Metal badge of the Royal 22nd Regiment
1914

Volunteers form a French-speaking battalion during the First World War

The 22nd (French Canadian) infantry battalion plays a historic role during the war.
Société Saint-Thomas-d'Aquin logo
1919

The Société Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin is founded

The Société Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin is the voice of Prince Edward Island’s Acadian and Francophone community.
Loeffler refugee family settled at Edenbridge, Saskatchewan
1920

Migration to the Canadian Prairies begins at the end of the 19th century and peaks in the 1920s

French-Canadian migrants and French, Belgian and Swiss immigrants settle in Saskatchewan.
December 13, 1925

The Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta is founded

More than 400 people from all over Alberta lay the foundation for a new association.
October 22, 1926

The first meeting of the secret society of the Commandeurs de l’Ordre de Jacques-Cartier is held in Ontario

The society is a reflection of a certain amount of frustration among French Canadians who feel that their rights are being ignored.
Bilingual stamps in 1927
1927

The federal government introduces the first bilingual postage stamps

To mark the 60th anniversary of Confederation, Canada Post issues a series of five stamps.
Banknotes with the portrait of King George VI
1937

The first series of bilingual coins and banknotes enters circulation

Legislative amendments by the government require the Bank of Canada to issue bilingual coins and banknotes.
Portrait of Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King and Hon. Ernest Lapointe
September 10, 1939

Canada enters the Second World War as an independent country

Despite some difficulties, the interests of both language communities are better represented than they were during the First World War.
1950

The linguistic imbalance that has existed since the late 19th century worsens in the Northwest Territories

The Arctic is chosen as the site for a distant early warning line against possible Soviet attacks.
Interpreters picture
January 15, 1959

Simultaneous interpretation is introduced in the House of Commons

Starting on January 15, 1959, all speeches, questions and debates by all Parliamentarians, regardless of their political affiliation, are translated simultaneously.
The Maritime Premiers pose in Charlottetown (Prince-Edward-Island). Louis J. Robichaud is on the left.
1960

An Acadian is elected Premier of New Brunswick

Louis Robichaud will serve three terms, until 1970.
September 10, 1960

The Rassemblement pour l’indépendance nationale is founded in Quebec

It begins as a gathering of about 30 people involved in defending Quebec’s rights; a few weeks later, the Rassemblement pour l’indépendance nationale publishes its manifesto.
M. Laurendeau and Mr. Dunton. 
1963

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson establishes the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism

The mandate of the Royal Commission is to inquire into and report on the existing state of bilingualism and biculturalism in Canada. In a way, this is the start of the bilingualism adventure.
1965

Villa Youville, a French-language seniors’ lodging and care home, opens

Villa Youville is a not-for-profit community corporation.
Photo of Jean Victor Allard
1966

A French Canadian becomes the highest ranking officer in the Canadian military

General Jean Victor Allard rises to the rank of Chief of Defence Staff and helps to usher in a series of changes to make the Canadian Armed Forces more functionally bilingual.
1967

The Estates General of French Canada are held

The Estates General take place in Montréal, Quebec, from November 23 to 27, 1967.
First meeting of the Fédération des francophones de la Nouvelle-Écosse in 1969
1968

The Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse is founded

The Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth and global development of Nova Scotia’s Acadian and French-speaking community.
Frobisher Bay on December 2005
1970

Federal government regional offices with bilingual staff open in Frobisher Bay, Northwest Territories

In 1970, many federal public servants in the region speak French, as do almost all of the employees at Bell Canada’s new regional office.
Keith Spicer's portrait
1970

Keith Spicer becomes the first Commissioner of Official Languages

The first Commissioner would play an important role in implementing the Official Languages Act.
1970

Franco-Saskatchewanians become Fransaskois

The term “Fransaskois” is coined by Father Jean Patoine of Edmonton. It was not until the late 1970s, however, that Franco-Saskatchewanians began identifying with the term “Fransaskois.”
Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Robert Bourassa attending the funeral of Pierre Laporte. 
1970

A series of social and political events take place in Quebec, culminating in the October Crisis

The October Crisis occurs during a difficult time for Francophones in Quebec, who felt victimized by the power Anglophones held in society.
Saint-Boniface City Hall in 1970
1972

St. Boniface is incorporated into the City of Winnipeg

St. Boniface ceases to exist as an independent city and becomes a ward in the Manitoban capital.
1972

Report concludes that French should be the only official language of the province of Quebec

The Commission of Inquiry on the Position of the French Language and on Language Rights in Quebec (also known as the Gendron Commission) issues its findings.
1973

Two important organizations are founded in Eastern Canada

They are the Société des Acadiens du Nouveau-Brunswick and the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador.
Franco-Ontarian flag
1975

In Sudbury, the Franco-Ontarian flag flies for the first time

Franco-Ontarians are the first after the Acadians to have their own flag.
CASA logo
1975

The English-speaking community on Quebec’s Gaspé Coast founds the Committee for Anglophone Social Action

During this politically charged time in Quebec, English-speaking communities join forces to deal with the changes that are occurring.
FCFA logo
1975

The Fédération des francophones hors Québec is founded

With the creation of this organization, French-speaking minority communities across the country develop a common vision.
René Lévesque on provincial election night 
November 15, 1976

The Parti Québécois wins the provincial election with a strong majority

The Parti Québécois advocates independence for Quebec and protection of the French language.
1977

Katimavik is created

The youth exchange program arranges community work placements across the country for thousands of young Canadians and encourages second-language learning.
Portrait of Maxwell Yalden
1977

Maxwell Yalden is appointed as the second Commissioner of Official Languages

During this period of constitutional turmoil, Commissioner Yalden stresses that language guarantees require greater tolerance on the part of Canadians than they have shown in the past.