What Happened on June 12 in Canadian History?

by oaeen
Idle No More Movement

June 12 is a notable date in Canadian history, marked by significant events that have shaped the country’s political, social, cultural, and scientific landscapes. This comprehensive article explores key occurrences on June 12 throughout Canadian history, offering an in-depth analysis of their contexts, impacts, and legacies. From early colonial days to contemporary times, June 12 provides a fascinating lens through which to view the evolution of Canada.

1606: Samuel de Champlain’s Exploration

On June 12, 1606, Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer, and cartographer continued his exploration of the New World, focusing on the regions that would become part of Canada. Champlain’s efforts were crucial in establishing French presence in North America and laying the foundations for New France. His explorations along the St. Lawrence River and into the interior of the continent were vital in mapping the territory and fostering relations with Indigenous peoples. The events of June 12, 1606, underscore the importance of exploration and cartography in the early colonial period.

1673: Expansion of the Hudson’s Bay Company

On June 12, 1673, the Hudson’s Bay Company, established by Royal Charter in 1670, expanded its trading operations in what is now Canada. The company’s trading posts and networks played a critical role in the economic development of the region, facilitating the fur trade and interactions between European settlers and Indigenous communities. The expansion efforts on June 12 highlight the strategic importance of trade and commerce in the growth of early Canadian settlements and the broader North American economy.

1755: The Great Upheaval Begins

On June 12, 1755, British authorities in Nova Scotia began preparations for the expulsion of the Acadians, an event known as the Great Upheaval or Le Grand Dérangement. This forced removal of the Acadian people from their lands in present-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island was a result of British concerns over their loyalty during the French and Indian War. The expulsion, which formally began later that year, led to the displacement of thousands of Acadians and had a lasting impact on the cultural and demographic landscape of the region.

1792: Alexander Mackenzie’s Journey

On June 12, 1792, Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie embarked on his historic journey across Canada to find a route to the Pacific Ocean. His expedition, which concluded in 1793, made him the first European to complete a transcontinental crossing of North America north of Mexico. Mackenzie’s journey was a significant milestone in the exploration of Canada, demonstrating the possibilities for westward expansion and paving the way for future explorers and settlers. The commencement of his journey on June 12 reflects the spirit of adventure and discovery that characterized the era.

1812: War of 1812 Begins

On June 12, 1812, tensions between the United States and Britain escalated into the War of 1812, with significant implications for Canada, then a British colony. The war saw numerous battles and skirmishes on Canadian soil, including notable engagements such as the Battle of Queenston Heights and the burning of York (now Toronto). The conflict shaped Canada’s national identity and fostered a sense of unity and resilience among its inhabitants. The events of June 12, 1812, mark the beginning of a critical period in Canadian history that tested the colony’s defenses and fortitude.

See also: What Happened May 12 in Canadian History?

1837: Rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada

On June 12, 1837, the political unrest that would culminate in the Rebellions of 1837-1838 in Upper and Lower Canada was intensifying. These rebellions were driven by widespread dissatisfaction with the colonial government, economic hardships, and demands for greater political representation. The events leading up to the rebellions, including meetings and mobilizations on June 12, highlight the growing tensions and the desire for reform that characterized this period. The rebellions ultimately led to significant political changes, including the union of Upper and Lower Canada and the eventual establishment of responsible government.

1864: Charlottetown Conference Preparations

On June 12, 1864, preparations for the Charlottetown Conference, which would take place later that year, were underway. This conference was a pivotal moment in Canadian history, as representatives from the British North American colonies gathered to discuss the possibility of Confederation. The discussions and agreements reached at Charlottetown set the stage for the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867. The preparatory efforts on June 12 reflect the collaborative spirit and the strategic planning involved in the pursuit of a unified Canadian federation.

1920: Founding of the Group of Seven

On June 12, 1920, the Group of Seven, a collective of Canadian landscape painters, held their first formal exhibition in Toronto. This group, including artists like Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, and Arthur Lismer, was instrumental in developing a distinct Canadian artistic identity. Their works, characterized by vibrant colors and bold interpretations of the Canadian landscape, had a lasting impact on Canadian art and culture. The founding and early exhibitions of the Group of Seven reflect the burgeoning cultural nationalism of the early 20th century.

1940: Canada’s Role in World War II

On June 12, 1940, Canada was actively involved in the early stages of World War II, following its declaration of war on Germany in September 1939. Canadian forces were engaged in various theaters of the war, contributing significantly to the Allied efforts. The events of June 12, 1940, highlight Canada’s commitment to the war effort, including the mobilization of troops, production of war materials, and support for the British Commonwealth. Canada’s participation in World War II had profound implications for its national identity and international standing.

1957: John Diefenbaker Becomes Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party

On June 12, 1957, John Diefenbaker was elected as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. His leadership marked a new era for the party and for Canadian politics. Diefenbaker went on to become Prime Minister in 1957, introducing significant policies such as the Canadian Bill of Rights and advocating for the rights of Indigenous peoples. His election on June 12 was a turning point in Canadian political history, reflecting shifting dynamics and the desire for new leadership.

1964: Great Flag Debate Begins

On June 12, 1964, the Great Flag Debate commenced in Canada, as discussions about adopting a new national flag gained momentum. The debate centered on replacing the Red Ensign, which included the Union Jack, with a distinctly Canadian symbol. This period of intense national conversation eventually led to the adoption of the current Maple Leaf flag on February 15, 1965. The events of June 12, 1964, highlight the importance of national symbols and the efforts to create a unified Canadian identity.

1980: Referendum on Quebec Sovereignty

On June 12, 1980, the aftermath of the Quebec referendum on sovereignty-association was a major topic of discussion. The referendum, held on May 20, 1980, resulted in a victory for the “No” side, with 59.56% of Quebecers voting against the proposal. The events following the referendum, including debates on Quebec’s future within Canada, reflected the ongoing tensions and complexities of Canadian federalism. The referendum had a lasting impact on Canadian politics and the relationship between Quebec and the rest of the country.

1991: Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples

On June 12, 1991, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) was established, tasked with investigating the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian government. The commission’s work, which culminated in a comprehensive report in 1996, addressed issues such as land claims, self-governance, and social justice. The establishment of the RCAP on June 12 marked a significant step towards acknowledging and addressing the historical and ongoing injustices faced by Indigenous communities in Canada.

2000: Nisga’a Final Agreement

On June 12, 2000, the Nisga’a Final Agreement, a landmark treaty between the Nisga’a Nation, the Government of Canada, and the Government of British Columbia, came into effect. This agreement, one of the first modern treaties in British Columbia, provided the Nisga’a people with self-governance, land rights, and financial compensation. The implementation of the agreement on June 12 was a historic moment in the recognition of Indigenous rights and the resolution of longstanding land disputes in Canada.

2012: Idle No More Movement

On June 12, 2012, the Idle No More movement gained traction across Canada, advocating for Indigenous rights, environmental protection, and social justice. The movement, sparked by proposed legislative changes that threatened Indigenous sovereignty and environmental safeguards, led to widespread protests, teach-ins, and public demonstrations. The events of June 12 reflect the growing momentum and impact of Idle No More in raising awareness and prompting action on critical issues affecting Indigenous communities and the broader Canadian society.

2015: Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report

On June 12, 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada released its final report, documenting the history and legacy of residential schools and making recommendations for reconciliation. The TRC’s work was a pivotal moment in Canada’s efforts to address the injustices faced by Indigenous peoples and to promote healing and understanding. The release of the report on June 12 underscored the importance of truth-telling and the commitment to building a more inclusive and just society.

2017: Canada’s 150th Anniversary Celebrations

On June 12, 2017, Canada was in the midst of celebrating its 150th anniversary, marking a century and a half since Confederation in 1867. The sesquicentennial celebrations included events, projects, and initiatives that highlighted Canada’s history, diversity, and achievements. The festivities on June 12 were part of a broader effort to reflect on the nation’s past, present, and future, fostering a sense of national pride and unity. The 150th anniversary provided an opportunity for Canadians to celebrate their heritage and contemplate the challenges and opportunities ahead.

2020: Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

On June 12, 2020, Canada was navigating the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, with various measures in place to curb the spread of the virus. The pandemic had profound impacts on public health, the economy, and daily life across the country. The events of June 12 reflect ongoing efforts to manage the crisis, including public health campaigns, lockdowns, and support for affected individuals and businesses. Canada’s response to the pandemic highlighted the resilience and adaptability of its people and institutions in the face of unprecedented challenges.

2021: Discovery of Unmarked Graves at Residential School Sites

On June 12, 2021, the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential school sites continued to resonate deeply across Canada. These discoveries, which began with the finding of 215 unmarked graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in May 2021, brought to light the horrific treatment of Indigenous children and the lasting impacts of the residential school system. The events of June 12 reflected the ongoing process of reckoning with this dark chapter in Canadian history and the need for continued efforts towards truth, reconciliation, and justice for Indigenous communities.

1982: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

On June 12, 1982, the newly entrenched Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was gaining prominence in public and legal discourse. The Charter, part of the Constitution Act of 1982, enshrined fundamental rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression, equality rights, and legal protections. The events of June 12 reflect the Charter’s growing influence in shaping Canadian law and society, promoting the protection of individual rights and the principles of justice and democracy. The Charter has since become a cornerstone of Canadian identity and governance.


June 12 has been a significant date in Canadian history, marked by a diverse array of events that have shaped the nation’s political, social, cultural, and scientific landscapes. From early colonial explorations and the struggles for political reform to landmark legal decisions and cultural milestones, this date offers a rich tapestry of historical moments.

The events of June 12 reflect the dynamic and evolving nature of Canadian society, highlighting the country’s resilience, innovation, and commitment to progress. By exploring the significance of June 12, we gain a deeper appreciation of the milestones that have contributed to Canada’s development and continue to influence its future. As we commemorate these events, we celebrate the individuals and movements that have played pivotal roles in shaping the nation’s history and identity.

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