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Editorial

Editorial: The Statute of Westminster, Canada's Declaration of Independence

In the fall of 1929, Canada’s Minister of Justice, Ernest Lapointe, travelled to England. He took with him Dr. Oscar Skelton — the “elder statesman” of the Canadian civil service, as William Lyon Mackenzie Kingonce described him. When Lapointe and Skelton were done their negotiations, they had confirmed that Canada would have its independence from the British Empire.

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Seven Years’ War (Plain-Language Summary)

The Seven Years’ War (1756–63) was the first global war. In North America, Britain and France fought each other with the help of Indigenous allies. At the end of the war, France gave Canada (Quebec) and Ile Royale (Cape Breton) to Britain, among other territories. This is the reason that Canada has a British monarch but three founding peoples — French, British and Indigenous.

(This article is a plain-language summary of the Seven Years’ War. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry Seven Years’ War.)

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Komagata Maru

The SS Komagata Maru was a chartered ship featured in a dramatic challenge to Canada’s former practice of excluding immigrants from India. This challenge took place in the spring and summer of 1914, on the eve of the First World War.

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Canada and the South African War (Boer War)

The South African War (1899–1902) was Canada's first foreign war. Also known as the Boer War, it was fought between Britain (with help from its colonies and Dominions such as Canada) and the Afrikaner republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State. Canada sent three contingents to South Africa, while some Canadians also served in British units. In total, more than 7,000 Canadians, including 12 nurses, served in the war. Of these, approximately 270 died. The war was significant because it marked the first time Canadian troops distinguished themselves in battle overseas. At home, it fuelled a sense that Canada could stand apart from the British Empire, and it highlighted the French-English divide over Canada's role in world affairs — two factors that would soon appear again in the First World War.

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Statute of Westminster, 1931

The Statute of Westminster is a British law that was passed on 11 December 1931. It was Canada’s all-but-final achievement of independence from Britain. It enacted recommendations from the Balfour Report of 1926, which had declared that Britain and its Dominions were constitutionally “equal in status.” The Statute of Westminster gave Canada and the other Commonwealth Dominions legislative equality with Britain. They now had full legal freedom except in areas of their choosing. The Statute also clarified the powers of Canada’s Parliament and those of the other Dominions. (See also Editorial: The Statute of Westminster, Canada’s Declaration of Independence.)

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The Conquest of New France

The Conquest (La Conquête) is a term used to describe the acquisition of Canada by Great Britain during the Seven Years’ War. It also refers to the resulting conditions experienced by Canada’s 60,000 to 70,000 French-speaking inhabitants and numerous Indigenous groups. French forces at Quebec City surrendered to British forces on 18 September 1759, a few days after the crucial Battle of the Plains of Abraham. French resistance ended in 1760 with the capitulation of Montreal. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris surrendered New France to Britain. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 introduced assimilative policies that ultimately failed. They were replaced by the provisions of the Quebec Act of 1774. Although it helped spark the American Revolutionary War (1775–83), the Act also granted Canadians enviable conditions that resulted in generations of relative stability.

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Dominion of Canada

Dominion of Canada is the country’s formal title, though it is rarely used. It was first applied to Canada at Confederation in 1867. It was also used in the formal titles of other countries in the British Commonwealth. Government institutions in Canada effectively stopped using the word Dominion by the early 1960s. The last hold-over was the term Dominion Day, which was officially changed to Canada Day in 1982. Today, the word Dominion is seldom used in either private or government circles.

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Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is a board of the British Privy Council. It was formed in 1833. In 1844, it was given jurisdiction over all of Britain’s colonial courts. People who had been judges in high courts in Britain served on the Judicial Committee, along with a sprinkling of judges from the Commonwealth. Their decisions were often criticized for favouring provincial powers over federal authority, especially in fields such as trade and commerce. The Judicial Committee served as the court of final appeal for Canada until 1949, when that role was given to the Supreme Court of Canada.  

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Durham Report

In 1838, the British politician Lord Durham was sent to British North America to investigate the causes of the rebellions of 1837–38 in the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada. Durham's famous Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839) led to a series of reforms and changes. These included uniting the two Canadas into a single colony, the Province of Canada, in 1841. (See also: Act of Union.) The report also paved the way for responsible government. This was a critical step in the development of Canadian democracy. The report played an important role in the evolution of Canada’s political independence from Britain.

timeline event

Four-Year-Old BC Boy Found After 30 Hours Alone in Wilderness

A four-year-old boy who wandered away from his parents while they were picking berries outside the small BC town of Mackenzie was found after a 30-hour search involving 400 volunteers. The boy was cold and wet but otherwise in good health when he was spotted by a helicopter. Cpl. Madonna Saunderson called his survival and discovery “miraculous… There couldn’t have been a better outcome.”

timeline event

BC Legislature Resumes After Spending Scandal

Speaker Daryl Plekas delivered the throne speech that reopened the BC Legislature following a spending scandal that rocked all three parties. After declaring in November 2018 that he had “established processes in the legislative assembly that are essentially bulletproof,” Legislative Clerk Craig James, along with sergeant-at-arms Gary Lens, were found to have approved thousands of dollars of inapporpriate spending on items ranging from liquor to a wood-chipper. James and Lens were suspended amid a police investigation and an impeding report by Plekas.

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Kelowna

Kelowna, British Columbia, incorporated as a city in 1905, population 127,380 (2016 census), 117,312 (2011 census). The city of Kelowna is located in south-central British Columbia on the east shore of Okanagan Lake.

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Squamish

Squamish, British Columbia, incorporated as a district municipality in 1964, population 19,512 (2016 census) 17,158 (2011 census). The district of Squamish is located 70 km north of Vancouver at the head of Howe Sound. The municipality is governed by a mayor and six councillors. It is the service centre for a richly endowed recreational area, with road, rail and water access to Vancouver.

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Chilliwack (BC)

Chilliwack, British Columbia, incorporated as a city in 1999, population 83,788 (2016 census), 77,936 (2011 census). The city of Chilliwack is located 100 km east of Vancouver on the south shore of the Fraser River. It is governed by a mayor and six councillors elected for four-year terms. The name is derived from the word Ts’elxwéyeqw. According to elder Albert Louie, in Halq’eméylem, the traditional language of the Stó:lo, the word means “going as far as you can go upriver” by canoe on the Chilliwack River.

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Surrey

Surrey, British Columbia, incorporated as a city in 1993, population 517,887 (2016 census), 468, 251 (2011 census). The city of Surrey is the second-largest municipality by population in British Columbia, after Vancouver. Part of Metro Vancouver, it is bounded by the Fraser River on the north and Washington state on the south. The municipalities of Langley and Delta lie to the east and west.