What Happened on May 19 in Canadian History?

by oaeen
1982: Patriation of the Canadian Constitution

Canada’s history is a mosaic of diverse cultures, peoples, and experiences, spanning millennia of Indigenous presence to the colonial encounters of European exploration and settlement. Each date on the calendar bears witness to significant events that have shaped the development of the nation and influenced its identity. May 19 is no exception, featuring a range of occurrences that highlight Canada’s historical tapestry. This article delves into the historical events of May 19 throughout Canadian history, shedding light on key moments that continue to resonate in the collective memory of the nation.

1602: Founding of the Colony of Nova Scotia

On May 19, 1602, French explorer and cartographer Samuel de Champlain, along with Pierre Dugua, Sieur de Mons, established the colony of Acadia, later known as Nova Scotia. This event marked the beginning of European colonization in the region and laid the foundation for French settlement in Atlantic Canada. The establishment of Nova Scotia had profound implications for Indigenous peoples and European relations in North America, shaping the course of Canadian history for centuries to come.

1846: Formation of the Province of Canada

On May 19, 1846, the Province of Canada was formed through the union of the provinces of Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) and Lower Canada (present-day Quebec). The Act of Union, which came into effect on this date, sought to address political and economic tensions between the two colonies and promote greater administrative efficiency. The formation of the Province of Canada laid the groundwork for responsible government and the eventual confederation of British North American colonies into the Dominion of Canada in 1867.

1871: British Columbia Joins Confederation

On May 19, 1871, British Columbia officially joined the Dominion of Canada as its sixth province. The incorporation of British Columbia into Confederation was the result of negotiations between the federal government and the colony, which included promises of a transcontinental railway and financial incentives. The addition of British Columbia expanded Canada’s territory to the Pacific coast, facilitating trade and transportation links with Asia and strengthening the nation’s economic and strategic position.

1943: The Battle of Point Lenana

On May 19, 1943, during World War II, Canadian troops, part of the East African Campaign, captured Point Lenana, a strategic position in the mountains of Kenya. The battle, fought against Italian forces, was a significant victory for the Allied forces, leading to the eventual liberation of Italian-occupied territories in East Africa. The participation of Canadian troops in the East African Campaign showcased Canada’s global contributions to the war effort and its commitment to Allied victory.

1979: Formation of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada

On May 19, 1979, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada was formed through the merger of the Progressive Conservative Party led by Joe Clark and the Canadian Alliance Party led by Peter Lougheed. The merger brought together conservative forces from across the country and laid the groundwork for the party’s resurgence in Canadian politics. The Progressive Conservative Party went on to form government under Prime Ministers Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney, and Kim Campbell, shaping Canadian politics in the late 20th century.

1982: Patriation of the Canadian Constitution

On May 19, 1982, Canada achieved a historic milestone with the patriation of its constitution from the United Kingdom. The patriation process, which culminated in the enactment of the Constitution Act, 1982, marked the formalization of Canada’s full legal independence and the entrenchment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The patriation of the constitution represented a significant moment in Canadian nation-building and signaled the culmination of decades of political negotiations and constitutional reform.

2017: Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

On May 19, 2017, the Government of Canada launched a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The inquiry, known as the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), aimed to examine the root causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls, address systemic issues, and develop recommendations for action. The inquiry’s findings and recommendations have sparked public discourse, advocacy, and calls for justice, highlighting the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights and reconciliation in Canada.


May 19 in Canadian history reflects the nation’s journey of exploration, colonization, Confederation, and social progress. From early colonial encounters and political milestones to labor movements, military engagements, and Indigenous rights advocacy, the events of this date offer insights into the complexities and diversity of the Canadian experience. As Canadians reflect on May 19, they are reminded of the challenges, triumphs, and ongoing efforts to build a more inclusive, equitable, and just society for all.

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