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The Canada-U.S. saga: A timeline
Justin Thompson, CBC News Online | May 1, 2003

Canada United States
1776 Leaders of colonies sign Declaration of Independence, breaking all political ties with Great Britain. Non-indigenous population estimated at over two million. Colonists loyal to Britain - including Quakers, businessmen, Anglican clergy and civil servants - move to British North America.
1783 With Britain bargaining on behalf of British North America, the Treaty of Paris is signed with the United States of America, establishing the international border that today separates Canada and the U.S.
1812 U.S. declares war on Great Britain and turns its guns on British North America which, at the time, is virtually undefended. Historians would later note that the declaration is made more due to opportunity than from any real necessity. Americans, especially those living in the northern states, give mixed support to the war. U.S. armies invade Upper Canada (present-day Southern Ontario) and are met with stiff resistance from British and Canadian forces.
1814 Exhausted by two decades of war with France (which ends in 1814 with the fall of Napoleon), Britain signs the Treaty of Ghent with the U.S., ending the 1812 war.
1867 Canada's Confederation: Dominion of Canada formed by Canada East, Canada West, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Population is estimated at 3,463,000.
1876-1969: From Sitting Bull to a "sleeping elephant"
1876 After defeating U.S. Colonel George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana, Sioux chief Sitting Bull flees with almost 3,000 followers to present-day Saskatchewan with the U.S. army in hot pursuit. For five years, the RCMP works to ensure the Sioux and U.S. army do not launch cross-border raids on one another. In 1881, the Sioux are persuaded to return to the U.S.
1903 Alaska boundary dispute settled between Canada and U.S., officially ceding the head of the Lynn Canal and a strip of coastal land to the U.S. The decision upsets Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier because he wants a Canadian port in the disputed area to service the booming gold rush. Instead, Canada is given islands to the south of the Alaska panhandle.
1904 Ford opens Canada's first automobile plant in Windsor, Ontario. This marks the beginning of Canada's economic reliance on the auto industry, which, in turn, is tied to the U.S. economy. It also signifies a period of considerable U.S. industrial expansion into Canadian border cities.
1918 620,000 Canadians serve in First World War. By war's end 65,000 are dead. U.S. casualties: 4.7 million enrolled; 116,516 dead and 204,002 wounded.
Alaska boundary dispute settled between Canada and U.S., officially ceding the head of the Lynn Canal and a strip of coastal land to the U.S. The decision upsets Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier because he wants a Canadian port in the disputed area to service the booming gold rush. Instead, Canada is given islands to the south of the Alaska panhandle.
1921 For the first time in recorded history, Canada's exports (not including gold) to the U.S exceed exports to the U.K., and top out at $542 million. U.S. exports to Canada total $594 million US.
1929 Canada's population surpasses 10 million. U.S. population is approximately 120 million.
1938 U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt promises to protect Canada in the event of foreign aggression. This is a period of good relations between the two nations. Prime Minister Mackenzie King is an admirer of Roosevelt, who in turn treats King with openness.
1944 Leighton McCarthy becomes Canada's first ambassador to the United States. To this point, Canada was officially represented by the British, and unofficially represented by Canadian diplomats operating from legations in major world centres like Washington, London and Paris.
1945 Second World War ends, leaving 45,000 Canadians dead. U.S. casualties: 405,399 dead and 671,846 wounded.
1948 During the war, Canada and the U.S co-operated very well economically, and in the years following, a free trade agreement is considered between the two. In 1948, however, Mackenzie King decides he is not interested in free trade - he is becoming suspicious of what he saw as U.S. attempts to control the continent.Also this year, the U.S. calls for a North Atlantic defence system to counter the growing Soviet threat.
1949 Canada and U.S. become charter members of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The defence alliance is created partially out of fear that the UN is not strong enough militarily to deal with the Soviet threat. To Canadian leaders, the inclusion of European nations in NATO is insurance against possible U.S. dominance in the organization.
1950 Canadian and U.S. forces enter the Korean War under auspices of NATO. With 26,791 troops, three destroyers, an air transport squadron and 22 fighter pilots, Canada is the third-largest contributor to the UN effort after the United States and the United Kingdom. 516 Canadians die in the war.5,720,000 Americans serve in Korea. More than 54,000 die, and 103,284 are wounded.
1951 Concerned about possible intrusions into North America by Soviet bombers, Canada and the U.S. agree to construct the Pinetree Line of radar detection sites. The project costs $450 million and is obsolete by the time of completion in 1954.
1955 To bolster the North American surveillance network Canada and the U.S. agree to construct the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line of radar sites. The U.S. pays for construction costs, and the system is running by 1957.
1957 Canada and U.S. create North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), a bi-lateral defence agreement.Canada completes construction of Mid-Canada Line of radar sites along the 55th parallel. Canada is the sole financier of the project, which costs an estimated $220 million.Newly elected Prime Minister John Diefenbaker rallies for Canadian independence from U.S. influence. This comes on the heels of two decades of heavy U.S. investment in Canada; Americans control 70 per cent of the capital of Canada's petroleum and natural gas industry and 90 per cent of the auto industry.
1959 St. Lawrence Seaway officially opened by President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth, allowing deep-draft passage to the Great Lakes.Also this year, Diefenbaker cancels the controversial Avro Arrow bomber project. He opted instead to deploy nuclear-tipped Bomarc missiles and CF-101B Voodoo aircraft. Historians argue this ended any hopes of Canada ever becoming a major developer of military equipment.
1962 When President John F. Kennedy announced a U.S. blockade of Cuba, he did so without consulting Prime Minister Diefenbaker - an abrogation of the NORAD agreement. When the U.S. later asked Canada to move its forces into an advanced state of readiness, Diefenbaker did not respond. Canada's NORAD forces, however, acted without his blessing, and followed the request.
1964 After years of political wrangling, the Columbia River Treaty is signed by Canada and the U.S., providing for the construction of dams along the Columbia River in British Columbia. The project is aimed at establishing flood control and hydro-electricity generation for the U.S. northwest. Canadian nationalists oppose the deal, saying Canada should hold out for a better deal.
1965 Auto pact signed by Canada and the U.S., ushering in free trade of automobiles and auto parts. To this point Canada's home-grown auto industry has not taken off, and manufacturing consists primarily of parts plants owned by Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. Almost 57% of Canada's exports in 1965 went to the U.S., totalling more than $4.8 billion.Also this year, Prime Minister Lester Pearson draws the ire of President Lyndon B. Johnson for suggesting in a speech that the U.S. cease bombing North Vietnam, and give negotiation a chance. At a lunch at Camp David later, an angry Johnson grabbed Pearson by the collar and shouted, "you pissed on my rug!" Canada's peace overtures continue, to no avail.
1969 This is a time of tension between Canada and the U.S. The Canadian government openly criticizes the U.S. role in the Vietnam war and opens Canadian borders to so-called draft dodgers. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau tells an American audience, "living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly or temperate the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt." This is mild by Trudeau's standards. Upon hearing a tape of President Richard Nixon calling him an "asshole," Trudeau shrugged and said, "I've been called worse things by better people."
1970-2000: The expanding North American marketplace
1970 Canada's population is estimated at 21.2 million. U.S. population is 203.3 million.
1975 Canadian exports to the U.S., excluding gold, totalled more than $21 billion, representing 64% of all Canadian exports.
1976 Time magazine halts publication in Canada after Prime Minister Trudeau makes changes to tax laws to disqualify it for sale in Canada (?). Trudeau saw the U.S. publication as a potential threat to Canadian culture.
1979 The St. Lawrence Seaway marks its 20th anniversary. The gross tonnage passing through the international waterway this year is 80.3 million tonnes - more than triple the first year total of 25.1 million tonnes.
1980 Canada's population is 24 million. U.S. population is 226.5 million.
1983 Trudeau's leftist ideals clash with those of strong right-wing politicians like U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. One particular issue of concern is the brewing Cold War. Trudeau angered Reagan by campaigning in an attempt to diffuse tension between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. In the face of massive domestic opposition and foreign pressure, the Trudeau government allows the U.S. to conduct cruise missile tests in northern Alberta.
1985 Prime Minister Brian Mulroney joins U.S. President Ronald Reagan in singing "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" at the so-called Shamrock Summit in Quebec City. The leaders enjoyed a close relationship, owing in no small part to Mulroney's right-wing sensibilities.Also this year, Mulroney and Reagan agree to build the North Warning System - a replacement for the aging Pinetree, DEW and Mid-Canada radar systems.
1988 Amid massive national debate in Canada, Mulroney and Reagan sign the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, which comes into force the following year. Even after the document is signed, it continues to be an issue of debate in Canada's 1988 federal election. In a leadership debate with Mulroney, Liberal leader John Turner said free trade "will reduce us, I'm sure, to a colony of the United States, because when the economic levers go, the political independence is sure to fall."
1990 Canada's population is 27 million. U.S. population is 250 million.
1994 Along with Mexico, Canada and the United States enact the North American Free Trade Agreement, aimed at eliminating tariffs on trade between the signing countries. The agreement is greeted with far less internal turmoil than the 1988 Canada-U.S. free trade agreement. U.S. President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Jean Chr´┐Żtien enjoy a good relationship. "We have the most comprehensive ties of any two nations on earth," Clinton later told reporters.
2000 Canada's population estimated at 30,790,800. U.S. population is 281,421,906.
Sources: Statistics Canada; U.S. Census Bureau; Government of Canada


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