This timeline lists significant moments in education in Canadian history.

Students in the classroom, ca. 1910-1920.

March 26, 1789


Pictou Academy Founded

A Nova Scotia statute established the Pictou Academy.

December 19, 1813

McGill, James


Death of James McGill

Fur trader James McGill died, leaving an endowment of £10 000 for a college in Montréal (later McGill University).

May 22, 1820

Dalhousie University


Dalhousie University Cornerstone

The cornerstone of Dalhousie University was laid in Halifax.

March 31, 1821

McGill University Campus


McGill Receives Charter

University of McGill College (forerunner of McGill University) received its charter.

February 10, 1829


King's College Founded

King's College at Fredericton (later the University of New Brunswick) received a royal charter. UNB was incorporated in 1859.

January 04, 1830

Upper Canada College


Upper Canada College Opened

Upper Canada College opened at York (later Toronto).

January 21, 1839


Acadia College Opens

Acadia College opened at Wolfville, NS.

September 18, 1841


Public Schools Established

An Act for the establishment and maintenance of public schools in Canada was passed.

October 16, 1842


Queen's University Founded

Queen's University was founded as Queen's College.

January 19, 1843


Mount Allison Founded

Mount Allison Wesleyan Academy was opened in Sackville, NB.

December 09, 1843


Bishop's University Founded

Bishop's University at Lennoxville, Québec, was founded.

December 31, 1849


King's College Becomes U of T

King's College in Toronto was secularized, becoming on January 1, 1850, the nondenominational University of Toronto.

January 15, 1852


Trinity College Opened

Toronto's Trinity College opened.

December 08, 1852


Laval University Charter

Laval University at Québec received a royal charter.

August 15, 1866


University of Ottawa Formed

The College of Ottawa became the University of Ottawa.

April 16, 1874

Melatonin Subjects


Agricultural College Opens

The agricultural college at Guelph, Ont, received its first students.

February 28, 1877


University of Manitoba Founded

The University of Manitoba was organized by provincial statute and opened June 20.

March 07, 1878

Universitéde Montréal


Universities Incorporated

The University of Montreal and the University of Western Ontario were incorporated.

April 23, 1887

McMaster University


McMaster Founded

McMaster University was founded in Toronto by the union of Woodstock College and the Toronto Baptist College.

March 31, 1890


Manitoba School Act

The Manitoba School Act abolished publicly funded support for separate schools for Catholics. The aggrieved French minority argued that the Act violated the agreements under which Manitoba entered Confederation.

March 07, 1908

University of British Columbia


UBC Founded

The University of British Columbia was founded. It began operations in 1915.

September 23, 1908


University of Alberta Opens

The University of Alberta at Edmonton opened, with 37 students.

October 08, 1908


Collège Marguerite-Bourgeoys Opened

After many years of deliberations, Sœur Sainte-Anne-de-Marie opened the first high school for girls in Montréal, on Sherbrooke Street. It would become the Collège Marguerite-Bourgeoys.

September 20, 1910


École des Hautes Opens

The École des Hautes études commerciales opened in Montréal.

August 17, 1912


Circular No. 17

The Ontario Department of Instruction issued Circular No. 17, which banned the use of French in Ontario schools past Grade 1.

May 08, 1919


L'Université de Laval de Montréal Established

With the signature of the Quum Illmi by Pope Benoît XV, l'Université de Laval de Montréal became independent from l'Université de Laval de Québec. It would become l'Université de Montréal.

February 14, 1920


L'Université de Montréal

The Université de Montréal was incorporated.

March 26, 1959


York University Founded

Ontario's 10th university, York University in Toronto, was formed.

September 19, 1960


University of Calgary Founded

The University of Alberta opened a new 130 ha campus on the outskirts of Calgary - later to become the University of Calgary.

June 06, 1961


CUSO Formed

CUSO was founded to place skilled Canadians in postings to provide technical assistance in the Third World.

March 01, 1963

Simon Fraser University


Simon Fraser U Established

The BC government established Victoria College as the University of Victoria, and founded Simon Fraser University in Burnaby (opened 9 September 1965).

May 27, 1963


NAIT Opens

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology opened in Edmonton.

September 09, 1965


Simon Fraser U Opened

Simon Fraser University opened in Burnaby.

January 29, 1969


Sir Williams Computer Riot

A committee dismissed the complaint by six Black Caribbean students at Sir George Williams University (now part of Concordia University, Montréal) who accused a biology lecturer of racism. The students and 200 of their supporters subsequently occupied the Computer Hall and initiated one of the largest student uprisings in Canadian history.

February 15, 1973

Lester B. Pearson


Pearson College Established

Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific was established north of Victoria.

August 24, 1974


Concordia University Created

Concordia University was created in Montreal by the merger of Loyola College and Sir George Williams University.

September 25, 1974


Pearson College Opens

The first 100 students arrived to begin classes at the Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, outside Victoria.

November 02, 1996


Death of Margaret Ormsby

Historian Margaret Ormsby, whose book British Columbia: A History (1958) was the standard history text of BC for 3 decades, died at Kalamalka Lake, BC.

June 30, 1997

Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's First Prime Minister


Poll on Knowledge of Canada

An Angus Reid poll found that the average Canadian student knew the answer to only 10 of 30 questions about Canada. only 30% could identify John A. Macdonald as Canada's first prime minister.

October 27, 1997


Teachers Strike in Ontario

Five unions representing 126 000 teachers went on strike in Ontario, the largest teacher strike ever in north America. The teachers protested reforms put forward by the Mike Harris government. The strike ended Nov 7.

March 16, 2005


Student Protest in Québec

One of the biggest protests ever, involving 80,000 students, took place in downtown Montréal. At issue was a $103 million cut to bursary funds by the government. As many as 200,000 college and university students from nearly every region went on strike for six weeks.

August 26, 2021

Egerton Ryerson


Ryerson University Announces It Will Be Renamed

The board of governors of Ryerson University agreed to accept all 22 recommendations made by the Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force, which was established in December 2020 to “develop principles to guide commemoration at the university and to respond to the history and legacy of Egerton Ryerson within the context of the university’s values.” The recommendations included renaming the school and making materials available on the history and legacy of Egerton Ryerson, one of the architects of Canada’s residential school system.