After the US became independent, Québec was confined to the area north of the Great Lakes, and in 1784 NEW BRUNSWICK was created as a home for LOYALISTS. From 1784 to 1820 CAPE BRETON was also administered as a separate colony. After the US acquired LOUISIANA from France in 1803, it became necessary to determine its boundary with British territory west of the Great Lakes. This was established as essentially the FORTY-NINTH PARALLEL to the Rocky Mountains by the CONVENTION OF 1818; the area west of the Rockies was occupied by both Britain and the US. The limits between British territory and Russian Alaska were described in 1825. The area under joint British-American occupation was divided by the OREGON TREATY of 1846. The 1842 ASHBURTON-WEBSTER TREATY settled the New Brunswick-Maine boundary, and described the boundary between British North America and the US from Lake Huron to Lake of the Woods. In the far West, the British colonies, Vancouver Island, established 1849, and British Columbia, established 1858, were united in 1866.
In 1867, 3 provinces of BRITISH NORTH AMERICA, Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, were united in CONFEDERATION, the former PROVINCE OF CANADA being divided into Ontario and Québec. In 1870 RUPERT'S LAND and the North-Western Territory, purchased 1869-70 by the federal government from the HBC, were officially transferred to Canada, and from them a small province of Manitoba was created to accommodate agricultural colonies established after 1812 (see RED RIVER COLONY). In 1871 BC joined the federation, and PEI followed in 1873. In 1876 the District of Keewatin was created from part of the North-West Territories to deal with the administrative problems arising from settlement north of Manitoba. The Territories were enlarged in 1880, when British rights to the arctic islands passed to Canada, but were reduced again when Manitoba, Ontario and Québec were enlarged in 1881, 1889 and 1898. The remainder of the North-West Territories was divided into provisional districts for administrative and postal purposes, beginning with Athabaska, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Assiniboia in 1882, and then Yukon, Mackenzie, Franklin and Ungava in 1895 (in 1898 Yukon District became a separate territory in order to provide proper government for gold seekers moving into the region; see KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH).
In 1905, as agricultural settlement spread into the Prairies, the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were created. Their expansion north to the 60th parallel gave rise to requests from Manitoba, Ontario and Québec for northern extensions. In 1912 these provinces attained their present limits, and the North-West Territories districts disappeared except for Mackenzie, Keewatin (which had been a disputed territory first governed by Manitoba then in 1912 awarded to Ontario) and Franklin. The final addition of territory came when Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949 with the area determined by the Imperial Privy Council in 1927. In 1985 the waters of the ARCTIC ARCHIPELAGO were delineated. Canada claims full sovereignty over all those waters, including the straits of the NORTHWEST PASSAGE. The Northwest Territories was further divided in 1999 with the creation of the territory NUNAVUT. Most of the arctic archipelago and the mainland roughly east of the treeline became the territory of the Inuit.
Author N.L. NICHOLSON
Links to Other Sites
Charlottetown Conference of 1864
This website covers the key issues and events at the Charlottetown Conference of 1864. Also features biographical profiles and an impressive collection of archival photographs and documents. From Library and Archives Canada.
Early Canadian Maps
A collection of fifty historical maps of North America dating from 1556 to 1857. From the W. H. Pugsley Collection of Early Canadian Maps at McGill University.
Canadian Geographic: Historical Maps
Take a walk through the history of Canada. Select a year to see the maps and the history related to that era. From the "Canadian Geographic" website.
Arriving in Upper Canada
This online exhibit focuses on the migration of the Loyalists to Upper Canada. From the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Revolution Rejected: Canada and the American Revolution
This illustrated Canadian War Museum website recounts the story of the failed American invasion of Canada in 1775–1776 and the migration of American Loyalists to Canada after 1783.
Canada at Scale: Maps of our History
This diverse digital collection of Canadian maps traces the evolution of cartography in Canada. View maps produced by Aboriginal communities, European colonial sources, government agencies, private industry and more. From Library and Archives Canada.
Search for historical maps of specific locations in Canada at this website from Research Collections, McMaster University Library.
International Boundary Commission
The official website for the International Boundary Commission.