National historic events

A national historic event may be designated if it occurred at least 40 years ago and if it represents a defining action, episode, movement, or experience in the history of Canada.

National historic events

Profiled below are some of the national historic events that have been designated through the recommendations of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC). Note that additional national historic designations will continue to be added to this page.

A full list of national historic persons, places and events can be found on the Directory of Federal Heritage Designations.

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National Historic Event
Black and white photo of a group of women in front of a building

Victorian Order of Nurses (VON)

VON was a major national organization which provides health services to poor and isolated Canadians.

Image copyright : © Victorian Order of Nurses/Library and Archives Canada/e002504612

Canada's Capital

After the union of Upper and Lower Canada in 1841, Kingston, Montréal, Toronto, and Québec were in succession the seat of government.

Image copyright : © Parks Canada

Preston Rivulettes Women’s Hockey Team

Considered the most successful women’s hockey team in Canada

Image copyright : © Courtesy of the City of Cambridge Archives / A985.071.47

Charlottetown and Québec Conferences of 1864

Two conferences held during the fall of 1864 were fundamental to the creation of the Dominion of Canada

Image copyright: © George P. Roberts / Library and Archives Canada / C-000733

Black and white photo of a group of women and a basketball

Edmonton Grads

In a twenty-five year history, beginning in 1915, the women of the Commercial Graduates Basketball Club, coached by J. Percy Page, achieved world recognition.

Image copyright: © Government of Alberta

Canadian War Memorials Fund

Created in 1916 by Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook), the Fund was Canada’s first war art program, establishing a tradition of commissioning artists to depict Canada at war.

Image copyright: © Canadian Department of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada

Black and white photo of people in a street and a man on a horse

Celebrations of Emancipation Day

People of African descent in Upper and Lower Canada marked the abolition of enslavement in 1834 with organized celebrations that gave rise to annual events.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / PA-163923

Experience of Italian Sojourners

From the turn of the 20th century to the First World War, Italian sojourners played a pivotal role in the development Canada’s infrastructure as prolific builders, miners and manufacturers

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / Frontier College / C-046161

Black Migrations to Sierra Leone (1792 and 1800)

Exemplifies the frustrations and disillusionment of self-emancipated and free people of African descent in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Image copyright: © Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia, a part of the Nova Scotia Museum, M2008.38.1.

Photo of an old paper document with typed words on it

Exclusion of Chinese Immigrants (1923–1947)

Period of time when the Chinese Exclusion Act was in effect, efforts of Chinese Canadians to prevent its passage and lobby for less restrictive immigration policies.

Image copyright: © Public domain, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Black and white photo of a group of people

Aboriginal Military Service in the First World War

First time the Canadian forces integrated a substantial number of Aboriginal men into their ranks as individual soldiers.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada/PA-066815

Chinese Construction Workers on the Canadian Pacific Railway

Role of the Chinese workers in building the Canadian Pacific Railway

Image copyright: © Edouard Deville / Library and Archives Canada / C-021990

The Komagata Maru Incident of 1914

The passengers on board the S.S. Komagata Maru and their supporters in the local South Asian community challenged Canada’s racist and exclusionary immigration policies.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / PA-034015

Illustration of a man holding a weapon

Jamaican Maroons in Nova Scotia

Community in exile in Nova Scotia from 1796 until 1800, influence still felt by African Nova Scotians.

Image copyright: © Nova Scotia Archives B. Edwards ... (London, 1796) (F210 /Ed9), negative number: N-6202

Painting of mountains and water

Group of Seven

Canadian landscape painters who first exhibited their work in 1920.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada/1984-4-37

Soldiers working a cannon

Role of the Canadian Merchant Navy during the Second World War

Contributed to the final outcome of World War II by transporting materiel and military personnel throughout the world.

Image copyright: © Lt George A. Lawrence / DND / Library and Archives Canada / PA-106528

A tall silver trophy

The Stanley Cup

One of the oldest and most prestigious trophies to be won by Professional athletes in North America.

Image copyright: © Parks Canada / Angela Voortman

Four women sitting down

Winning of the Vote by Women

Democracy, political equality and full citizenship were all advanced when Canadian women won the right to vote in the early 20th century.

Image copyright: © Archives of Manitoba / item # 173/3. Negative 9905

A historical photo of a hockey jersey

Breaking Racial Barriers in the National Hockey League

Hockey players overcoming racial barriers in professional hockey.

Image copyright: © Hockey Hall of Fame / Library and Archives Canada / PA-050743

Historical photo of a group of men

Nº 2 Construction Battalion, C. E. F.

Reflects the strong determination of Black men to overcome racism and contribute to Canada’s First World War effort.

Image copyright: © Museum Windsor, P6110

Painting of a group of people during winter

The Underground Railroad

From the early 19th century until the American Civil War, settlements along the Detroit and Niagara rivers were important terminals of the Underground Railroad.

Image copyright: © Subscription Fund Purchase / Bridgeman Images


Tackaberry Skates

In 1905, expert shoemaker George E. Tackaberry crafted a durable hockey boot with innovations such as a snug fit to prevent chafing, a reinforced toe and heel, improved arch support, and a thicker tongue.

Image copyright: © Canadian Museum of History / 2016.31.206 a-b

Asahi Baseball Team

Asahi Baseball Team

Between 1914 and 1941, at a time when Japanese Canadians faced racism, Vancouver's Asahi Baseball Team thrilled fans by winning championships in senior amateur leagues.

Image copyright: © Japanese Canadian National Museum / NNM 1996-180-002

Service of the Royal Canadian Air Force

Service of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) during the Second World War

The Service of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) served in European campaign and all other theatres during the Second World War.

Image copyright: © Expired - Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / e005176190

Ducks Unlimited

Ducks Unlimited Canada

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) was founded in Winnipeg in 1938 by private Canadian hunter-conservationists, in collaboration with the More Game Birds in America Foundation.

A railway station with snow on roof and a blue sky

Construction of the Prince Edward Island Railway

The construction of the Prince Edward Island Railway in 1871 created a transportation link across the island that stimulated employment, contributed to the social and cultural life of Islanders, and generated economic and commercial opportunities.

Image copyright: © Parks Canada

Vice Admiralty Court of Halifax

Vice Admiralty Court of Halifax

The Vice Admiralty Court of Halifax was one of the earliest courts in Nova Scotia to adjudicate maritime civil law and administer imperial trade and revenue regulations.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1970-188-1937 W.H. Coverdale Collection of Canadiana

Cunningham v. Tomey Homma

Cunningham v. Tomey Homma

Prominent Japanese Canadian Tomekichi “Tomey” Homma fought a landmark legal battle in 1900–1903 against a provision of the British Columbia Provincial Elections Act, which barred Asian Canadians and First Nations from voting.

Image copyright: © Courtesy of Keiko Tenney-Sean Homma

Discovery of Insulin

Discovery of Insulin

Diabetes in its severe form used to be a death sentence as patients either starved from the prescribed low-calorie glucose-free diet, or died of the disease’s complications.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / National Film Board fonds / e011177237 / Copyright: Expired

Early Commercial Radio Broadcasting in Canada, 1918-1932

Early Commercial Radio Broadcasting in Canada, 1918-1932

Commercial radio in Canada began with Montréal station XWA.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada, PA-139111

The Dionne Quintuplets  National Historic Event

The Dionne Quintuplets

Born to Elzire and Oliva Dionne, on 28 May 1934, the birth and survival of five identical, premature and undersized infants – Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie – was an unprecedented event that captivated the world and brought attention to a small Ontario town.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / PA-133260

West Indian Domestic Scheme (1955–1967)

The West Indian Domestic Scheme was a targeted immigration program through which approximately 3,000 women from the Caribbean came to Canada to work as domestic servants.

Canada’s First Industrial Dairy School

Édouard-André Barnard (1835–1898), Jean-Charles Chapais Jr. (1850–1926), and Damase Rossignol (1848–1901) established Canada’s first industrial dairy school in 1881, in Saint-Denis de Kamouraska, Quebec.

War Brides

War Brides

Between 1942 and 1948 some 48,000 women, accompanied by 22,000 children, mostly from Great Britain, landed here at Pier 21 as wives of Canadian servicemen stationed abroad during the Second World War.

Image copyright: © Barney J. Gloster/Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-175794

The Enslavement of African People in Canada (c. 1629–1834)

Between c. 1629 and 1834, there were more than 4,000 enslaved people of African descent in the British and French colonies that became Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick.

Examination Unit (1941–1945)

The Examination Unit (1941–1945)

The Examination Unit (1941–1945) was the first in Canada and the only civilian cryptographic bureau active during the Second World War.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada/PA-178055

Red River Expedition of 1870

The Red River Expedition of 1870

In May 1870, Col. Garnet J. Wolseley led an expedition from Toronto, Ontario, to the Red River Settlement in what is now Manitoba.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1989-400-1 In memory of Viscount Wolseley

Expo 67

Expo 67, held in Montréal from April to October 1967, was a World’s Fair that formed the centrepiece of Canada’s celebrations for the centennial of Confederation.

Establishment of Ice Roads in the Northwest Territories

Establishment of Ice Roads in the Northwest Territories

An integral part of transportation systems in the North, engineered ice roads have strengthened regional economic development, especially in the Northwest Territories.

Image copyright: © Author: Ian Mackenzie / see wikipedia

Spanish Flu in Canada (1918-1920)

The Spanish Flu in Canada (1918-1920)

The virulent Spanish flu, a devastating and previously unknown form of influenza, struck Canada hard between 1918 and 1920. This international pandemic killed approximately 55,000 people in Canada.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / PA-025025

Canadians in the Korean War

Canadians in the Korean War

Between 1950 and 1953, Canada participated in the Korean War as part of a United Nations multinational force to protect South Korea from invasion by North Korea.

Image copyright: © The Canadian Encyclopedia

Halifax Explosion

Halifax Explosion

On December 6, 1917, the explosives-laden SS Mont-Blanc and SS Imo collided in Halifax Harbour, causing a massive explosion, a tidal wave, and fires.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / C-019948 / Copyrights expired

Military Nurses

Military Nurses

Since 1885, thousands of Canadian nurses have provided skilled and compassionate care to the sick and wounded in battle.

Image copyright: © Photo: by Alice E. Isaacson, Nursing Sister with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France , 1916-1919; National Archives of Canada: R11203-0-1-E; Copyright: Expired

First Women's Institute

First Women's Institute

This 19th-century farmhouse is the birthplace of the Women's Institutes (WI), an organization that played a vital role in thousands of small communities. Inspired by domestic science reformer Adelaide Hoodless, and supported by her husband Erland, Janet Lee drafted the constitution of the Stoney Creek Women's Institute here in 1897.

Image copyright: © Dianne Dodd / Parks Canada / 2002

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs

Supported by an extremely loyal fan base, the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club is one of the most successful sport franchises in North America.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada

Meshikamau-shipu Travel Route

Meshikamau-shipu Travel Route

The Meshikamau-shipu Travel Route in Labrador is approximately 330 kilometres and follows a series of rivers and lakes between Sheshatshiu on Lake Melville/Atatshi-uinipeku and the Meshikamau area, which is the location of the former Lake Michikamau and today is part of the Smallwood Reservoir.

Image copyright: © Petshishkapushkau. Michael Weiler

First Aeroplane Flying in Canada

First Aeroplane Flying in Canada

On February 23, 1909, more than 100 people witnessed the first successful powered flight in Canada, as the Silver Dart lifted off the ice of Baddeck Bay and flew 800 metres.

Image copyright: © Expired; Credit: Library and Archives Canada / PA-061741

Sable Island Humane Establishment

Sable Island Humane Establishment (1801–1958)

Between 1801 and 1958, this shore-based rescue organization rescued the crews and passengers, and recovered the cargoes from the international vessels that wrecked on Sable Island, a 31-km2 stretch of crescent-shaped land approximately 290 kilometres southeast of Halifax.

Image copyright: © Canada. Marine Aids Division, Dept. of Transport, Library and Archives Canada, e003719344

Early Science in Canada’s North and the Hudson’s Bay Company

Early Science in Canada’s North and the Hudson’s Bay Company (1768-ca. 1810)

In 1768, the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) began its collaboration with the Royal Society, a British learned society for science, to facilitate the observation of the Transit of Venus at Prince of Wales Fort in 1769.

German U-Boat Attacks at Bell Island

German U-Boat Attacks at Bell Island (1942)

During the Second World War, Newfoundland’s Bell Island, a strategically vital iron-ore processing and shipping centre in Conception Bay, was targeted by German U-boats seeking to disrupt the supply of iron ore to Canada’s steel mills.

Image copyright: © Lt Gerald M. Moses, Canada. Dept. of National Defence, Library and Archives Canada, PA-188854

Stratford Festival

Stratford Festival

Founded in 1953, the Stratford Festival built its initial success on the annual production of the plays of William Shakespeare, but quickly grew into a major theatre with an international reputation for excellence in the classics.

The Residential School System

Residential schools for Indigenous children existed in Canada from the 17th century until the late 1990s. During the 19th and 20th centuries, a formal system for the residential schooling of Indigenous children was established and expanded throughout Canada.

First Electric Telegraph

First Electric Telegraph

December 19, 1846 marked the inauguration of the telegraph in Canada.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / Copyrights expired

Newfoundland's Entry into Confederation

Newfoundland's Entry into Confederation

Newfoundland entered Confederation on 31 March 1949. In 1948 a national convention proposed a return to Responsible Government but a spirited campaign led by J.R. Smallwood convinced a small majority to accept union with Canada which 19th century voters had decisively rejected.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / Reference PA-133280 / MIKAN ID 3191504

The Universal Negro Improvement Association of Canada (UNIA)

The Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was the first global Black nationalist organization with a chapter in Canada.

Abenaki Basket-Making Industry

Abenaki Basket-Making Industry (1870-1920)

Between 1870 and 1920, the Abenaki basket-making industry flourished in Odanak and Wôlinak, two communities located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River.

Image copyright: © McCord Museum / M12633

Winnipeg Falcons Hockey Club

Winnipeg Falcons Hockey Club

The Falcons hockey club was formed in 1909 from a merger of the Icelandic Athletic Club and the Vikings, adopting the name of Iceland’s national bird. The team represented Canada at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, winning the first Olympic gold medal in hockey.

Image copyright: © Johannesson, Konnie/Library and Archives Canada/PA-111330

Dedication of Buddhist Church in Raymond, AB

Japanese Experience in Alberta

At the turn of the 20th century, Japanese immigrants laid the foundations of a community that would be strengthened by the arrival of Japanese Canadians forcibly removed from the West Coast by the federal government during the Second World War.

Image copyright: © Art Tamayose / Library and Archives Canada / PA-117749

Dutch civilians on a WASP of 7th Reconnaissance Regiment (17th Duke of York's Royal Canadian Hussars), 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, celebrating the liberation of Zwolle, Netherlands.

Liberation of the Netherlands

Canada brought liberty and life to the Netherlands at the end of the Second World War. The bonds of friendship forged between Canada and the Netherlands stand strong to this day.

Image copyright: © Donald I. Grant / Canada. Dept. of National Defense / Library and Archives Canada / PA-136176

Assiniboine Park Zoo 1961, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Assiniboine Park and Zoo

Established in 1904, the combined Assiniboine Park and Zoo formed the centrepiece of Winnipeg’s innovative and forward-looking urban park system.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives of Canada

Refugees arriving from Europe, 1948, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The arrival of displaced persons in Canada, 1945-1951

After the Second World War, nearly 187,000 people fled from devastated Europe to Canada, including Holocaust survivors, former prisoners of war, and thousands who were unable or unwilling to return to their pre-war homes.

Image copyright: © Canada Science and Technology Museum Archives / CN000448

Want to see more heritage designations?

Search through over 3,600 designations listed in the Directory of Federal Heritage Designations (DFHD)

The Directory of Federal Heritage Designations offers a complete list of federal designations stemming from various programs managed by Parks Canada. It includes information on designated persons, places, and events of national historic significance under the National Program of Historical Commemoration, as well as railway stations, lighthouses, and federal buildings that are of national historic value or interest.

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