10 Proud Moments in Canadian History
From sports and medicine, to music and history, Canada is one of those countries that people are proud to call themselves a citizen of. “Where are you from?” “Oh, I am Canadian”! We could try to make a list of all the interesting, beautiful, relevant and honorable things that better represent Canada, but certainly it would be impossible, as sometimes many of these feelings couldn’t be expressed into words. So, we tried to come up with a list of the Top 10 moments in Canadian history (not a very easy task, indeed).
The passing and signing into law of The Constitution Act (1982)
This can be seen as the most important document signed and approved by Canadian government regarding law, rights and privileges. A more mature and prepared democracy started to rise with the introduction of the act as part of Canada’s process for Patriation and the inclusion of amendments, brought into real effect by the Queen of Canada at that time, Queen Elizabeth II.
Among some of the features that came from the Constitution Act, we can name the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a bill of rights intended to guarantee that everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, belief, thought, expression, opinion, communication and association.
Mr. Banting and Mr. Best’s work on insulin (1922) and the discovery of how it could be used to treat diabetes
As we all know, diabetes is a disease that threatens not only Canada, but the whole world. But not so many people know that, due to the discovery of insulin and the use of it in treating patients, millions of people in the world can be saved and receive a better treatment now.
After years of experiments and studies, in 1920 at the University of Toronto, a surgeon named Frederik Banting, with the assistance of a medical student, Charles Best, noticed that the pancreas of those patients who died of diabetes was seriously damaged, which made him believe that the juices secreted in the pancreas would be harmful for patients. After experiments were done on dogs, the doctors started to test on humans, by injecting the extract created out of glucose of a 14-year-old boy, and the test was a huge success.
Soon the news about the use of insulin on the treatment of diabetes reached the Nobel Committee, who decided to award them with the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
First recognition in Canada of women’s right to vote (in Manitoba in 1916)
The Valiant Five [Public Domain]
The first province to grant women the right to vote in Canada was Manitoba, in January 28, 1916. The young political activist Nellie McClung had a spirit of leadership and she always questioned traditional roles of Canadian women in the 20s, and campaigns for women’s rights started to grow within the country. Soon, the Political Equality League was formed in Manitoba, in order to enhance women’s working conditions, but it didn’t have the popularity needed for a cause in Canada, as many families were scared that this could lead to breakdowns around the country.
After several attempts to have public support, the League arranged a debate questioning why only men should have the right to vote, and after the defeat of the Conservative government, Manitoba became the first province in Canada to have women voting.
Same-sex marriage legalized in Ontario (2003)
Canada was the fourth country in the world and the first outside Europe to legalize gay marriage, in 2003. The Civil Marriage Act is based on two main principles: the right of every Canadian citizen to equality without discrimination, and the right to religious freedom. Although sexual orientation had already been part of the Canadian Human Rights Act since 1992, politicians saw the need to secure same-sex couples the same tax and social benefits as those for straight relationships.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge (1917)
On April 9, 1917, one of the greatest battles in Canadian history took place on Vimy Ridge, and such fact was considered the turning point of World War I, as the Allied Force needed to break through the fortified German Hindenburg Line. Led by Sir Arthur William Currie (first Commander of Canadian Corps), the battle was important due to the fact that it was the first time that all four Canadian divisions in Europe fought together in order to get rid of the Germans on the ridge. Although more than 11000 Canadian soldiers were injured, the ridge remained in Allied hands until the end of the war.
The Confederation Debates (1865)
by George P. Roberts [Public Domain]
Also known as the Parliamentary debates about the Confederation of the British North American Provinces, the debates were part of the process in which three British colonies became four provinces of the new federal Dominion of Canada (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) in 1867. Legislators then decided to make a selection of documents that would be easier to access, as thousands and thousands of pages about the most interesting and relevant parts of early Canadian history had to be compiled.
As a result, a group of leaders (John MacDonald, Alexander Galt, Christopher Dunkin and A.A. Dorian) decided to press for the creation of a stronger central power and economic union.
The Formal Opening of St. Lawrence Seaway (1959)
The St. Lawrence Seaway was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1959, with the presences of the US President Eisenhower and Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. Made up of a system of canals, waterways and locks, the seaway was mainly projected as a navigational channel from the Atlantic Ocean to all the Great Lakes, with a distance of approximately 2,500 miles.
The first icebreaker to pass through the channel in 1959 was D’Iberville, and since then, more than 2.5 billion tons of cargo has moved along the channel.
New Flag Adopted (1964)
The maple leaf became a recognized symbol of Canada in 1965, when it was adopted a new Canadian flag. But before that, Canada did not own a national flag yet, as the unofficial national flag was represented by the UK’s flag, the Union Flag.
Little by little, questions about the creation of a national flag started to spread around the country, and the first flag adopted by Canada was the one used on naval vessels, the Canadian Red Ensign. In 1924, the Canadian Coat of Arms replaced the Red Ensign, as many French Canadians viewed the Red Ensign as a symbol of colonialism.
During the federal election campaign in 1963, Liberal leader Lester Pearson promised that a new Canadian flag would be developed, and he wanted it to have a “made in Canada” symbol, something that could truly promote Canadian unity. After debates and several discussions, the maple leaf was recognized as the most appropriate choice.
Change of the name of Dominion Day to Canada Day
The date celebrates the anniversary of the enactment of the British North America Act of July 1, 1867, when Canada was officially recognized as a single country of four provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario). However, the holiday was not totally established until 1879, and at that time, the date was designated as Dominion Day, as a reference to the country being still a Dominion in the Act.
Based on the argument that the expression “Canada Day” is much more expressive and direct than “Dominion Day,” and inspired by the adoption of the Canada Act, the name was officially changed in 1982. Celebrations are held along the country every year at this date.
2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver
The exciting two weeks back in 2010 were extremely important for Canadian history, especially because of the 14 gold medals in sports such as skating, hockey and skiing. The highlights include Sidney Crosby and the “golden goal” in the final minutes against the US in the men’s hockey final, and the skier Alexandre Bilodeau winning the first golden medal for Canada.
With the event, there was a full sense of pride and success among Canadians, in addition to the economic benefits, new businesses, jobs and tourism.
What is Your Proudest Moment?
If you said “Something else” please post a comment below.
Riley Haas has been a leading expert since 2011 on immigration matters, with hundreds of publications online. Published author of three books about political philosophy, the Beatles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. BA from Bishop’s University, MA from McMaster University. You follow Riley on Substack https://rileyhaas.substack.com.