Canadian Provinces and the Confederation

Canadian political map.
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Canadian Confederation (Confédération Canadienne), the birth of Canada as a nation, took place on July 1, 1867. That is the date when the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united in one dominion. Today, Canada is composed of 10 provinces and three territories occupying the world's second largest country in area after Russia, which covers roughly the northern two-fifths of the North American continent.

These are the dates each of the Canadian provinces and territories joined the vast Confederation, from verdant British Columbia in the Pacific coast and Saskatchewan on the central plains, to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia on the rugged Atlantic coast.

Canadian Province / TerritoryDate Entered Confederation
AlbertaSept. 1, 1905
British ColumbiaJuly 20, 1871
ManitobaJuly 15, 1870
New BrunswickJuly 1, 1867
NewfoundlandMarch 31, 1949
Northwest TerritoriesJuly 15, 1870
Nova ScotiaJuly 1, 1867
NunavutApril 1, 1999
OntarioJuly 1, 1867
Prince Edward IslandJuly 1, 1873
QuébecJuly 1, 1867
SaskatchewanSept. 1, 1905
YukonJune 13, 1898

British North America Act Creates the Confederation

The British North America Act, an act of the United Kingdom's Parliament, created the confederation, divided the old colony of Canada into the provinces of Ontario and Québec, gave them constitutions, and instituted a provision for the entry of other colonies and territories in British North America to the confederation.

Canada as a dominion achieved domestic self-rule, but the British crown continued to direct Canada's international diplomacy and military alliances. Canada became entirely self-governing as a member of the British Empire in 1931, but it took until 1982 to complete the process of legislative self-governance when Canada won the right to amend its own constitution.

The British North America Act, also known as the Constitution Act, 1867, conferred on the new dominion a temporary constitution “similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom." It served as Canada’s “constitution” until 1982 when it was renamed the Constitution Act, 1867 and became the basis of Canada’s Constitution Act of 1982, by which the British Parliament ceded any lingering authority to the independent Canadian Parliament.

Constitution Act of 1982 Creates an Independent Country

In today's world, Canada shares popular culture and a 5,525-mile-long border with the United States—the longest border in the world not patrolled by military forces—and most of its 36 million people live within 185 miles of this international border. At the same time, this officially bilingual French- and English-speaking country is influential in the Commonwealth and plays a leading role in the organization of French-speaking countries known as La Francophonie.

Canadians, who live in one of the world's most sparsely populated countries, have created what many consider a model multicultural society, welcoming diverse immigrant populations and embracing Inuit native Indians in the northern tundra to urbanites in Toronto's so-called "banana belt" of relatively mild temperatures.

In addition, Canada develops and exports an embarrassment of natural resources and intellectual capital that few countries can equal.

Canadians Create a World Leader

Canadians may be close to the United States, but they are miles away in temperament. They prefer orderly central government and community over individualism; in international affairs, they are more likely to serve the role of peacemaker rather than warrior and, whether at home or abroad, they are likely to have a pluralistic view of the world. They live in a society that in most legal and official matters resembles Britain in the English-speaking areas of the country, France in Québec, where French adaptations have embedded themselves into a vibrant culture.


Encyclopedia Britannica