Provinces and territories of Canada
Canada's geography is divided into administrative divisions known as provinces and territories that are responsible for delivery of sub-national governance. When Canada was formed in 1867, three provinces of British North America — New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Province of Canada (which, on the formation of Canada, was divided into Ontario and Quebec) — were united to form a federated colony, which eventually became a sovereign nation in the next century. Over its history, Canada's international borders have changed several times, and the country has grown from the original four provinces to the current ten provinces and three territories. The ten provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. Several of the provinces were former British colonies, Quebec was originally a French colony, while others were added as Canada grew. The three territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon, which govern the rest of the area of the former British North America. Together, the provinces and territories make up the world's second-largest country by area.
The major difference between a Canadian province and a territory is that provinces receive their power and authority from the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly called the British North America Act, 1867), whereas territorial governments have powers delegated to them by the Parliament of Canada. The powers flowing from the Constitution Act are divided between the federal government and the provincial governments to exercise exclusively. A change to the division of powers between the federal government and the provinces requires a constitutional amendment, whereas a similar change affecting the territories can be performed unilaterally by the Parliament of Canada or government.
In modern Canadian constitutional theory, the provinces are considered to be co-sovereign divisions and each province has its own "Crown" represented by the lieutenant governor. The territories are not sovereign, but simply part of the federal realm, and have a commissioner who represents the federal government.
Location of provinces and territories
|Capital|| Largest city
|Entered Confederation|| Population
|Area: land (km2)||Area: water (km2)||Area: total (km2)||Official language(s)||Federal Parliament: Commons seats||Federal Parliament: Senate seats|
|Ontario||ON||Toronto||Toronto||July 1, 1867||13,678,700||917,741||158,654||1,076,395||English||121||24|
|Quebec||QC||Quebec City||Montreal||July 1, 1867||8,214,700||1,356,128||185,928||1,542,056||French||78||24|
|Nova Scotia||NS||Halifax||Halifax||July 1, 1867||942,700||53,338||1,946||55,284||English||11||10|
|New Brunswick||NB||Fredericton||Saint John||July 1, 1867||753,900||71,450||1,458||72,908||English and French||10||10|
|Manitoba||MB||Winnipeg||Winnipeg||July 15, 1870||1,282,000||553,556||94,241||647,797||English||14||6|
|British Columbia||BC||Victoria||Vancouver||July 20, 1871||4,631,300||925,186||19,549||944,735||English||42||6|
|Prince Edward Island||PE||Charlottetown||Charlottetown||July 1, 1873||146,300||5,660||0||5,660||English||4||4|
|Saskatchewan||SK||Regina||Saskatoon||September 1, 1905||1,125,400||591,670||59,366||651,036||English||14||6|
|Alberta||AB||Edmonton||Calgary||September 1, 1905||4,121,700||642,317||19,531||661,848||English||34||6|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||NL||St. John's||St. John's||March 31, 1949||527,000||373,872||31,340||405,212||English||7||6|
- De facto; French has limited constitutional status.
- Charter of the French Language; English has limited constitutional status.
- Nova Scotia dissolved cities in 1996 in favour of regional municipalities; its largest regional municipality is therefore substituted.
- Nova Scotia has very few bilingual statutes (three in English and French; one in English and Polish); some Government bodies have legislated names in both English and French.
- Section Sixteen of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Manitoba Act.
Provincial legislature buildings
There are three territories in Canada. Unlike the provinces, the territories of Canada have no inherent sovereignty and have only those powers delegated to them by the federal government. They include all of mainland Canada north of latitude 60° north and west of Hudson Bay, as well as all islands north of the Canadian mainland (from those in James Bay to the Canadian Arctic islands). The following table lists the territories in order of precedence (each province has precedence over all the territories, regardless of the date each territory was created).
|Capital and largest city||Entered Confederation|| Population
|Area: land (km2)||Area: water (km2)||Area: total (km2)||Official languages||Federal Parliament: Commons seats||Federal Parliament: Senate seats|
|Northwest Territories||NT||Yellowknife||July 15, 1870||41,462||1,183,085||163,021||1,346,106||Chipewyan, Cree, English, French, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey, Tłįchǫ||1||1|
|Yukon||YT||Whitehorse||June 13, 1898||33,897||474,391||8,052||482,443|| English
|Nunavut||NU||Iqaluit||April 1, 1999||31,906||1,936,113||157,077||2,093,190|| Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut,
Territorial legislature buildings
Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia are the original provinces, formed when British North American colonies federated on July 1, 1867, into the Dominion of Canada and by stages began accruing the indicia of sovereignty from the United Kingdom. Ontario and Quebec were united before Confederation as the Province of Canada. Over the following six years, Manitoba, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island were added as provinces.
The Hudson's Bay Company maintained control of large swathes of western Canada referred to as Rupert's Land until 1870, when it turned the land over to the Government of Canada. Manitoba and the Northwest Territories were created in 1870 from Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory. The Northwest Territories were vast at first, encompassing all of current northern and western Canada, except for the significant British holdings in the Arctic Islands (including many of the largest islands in the world) and the Colony of British Columbia; the Territories also included the northern two thirds of Ontario and Quebec, and almost all of present Manitoba, the 1870 province of Manitoba originally being confined to a small area in the south of today's province. The remaining Arctic Islands were transferred by Britain to Canada in 1880, adding to the size of the Northwest Territories. On September 1, 1905, a portion of the Northwest Territories south of the 60th parallel north became the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 1912, the boundaries of Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba were expanded northward: Manitoba's to the 60° parallel, Ontario's to Hudson Bay and Quebec's to encompass the District of Ungava.
In 1869, the people of Newfoundland voted to remain a British colony over fears that taxes would increase and the economic policy of the Canadian government would favour mainland industries. In 1907, Newfoundland acquired dominion status. In the middle of the Great Depression in Canada with Newfoundland facing national bankruptcy, the legislature turned over political control to the Commission of Government in 1933. Following Canada's participation in World War II, in a 1948 referendum, a narrow majority of Newfoundland citizens voted to join the Confederation, and on March 31, 1949, Newfoundland became Canada's tenth province. In 2001, it was officially renamed Newfoundland and Labrador.
In 1903, the Alaska Panhandle Dispute fixed British Columbia's northwestern boundary. This was one of only two provinces in Canadian history to have its size reduced. The second reduction, in 1927, occurred when a boundary dispute between Canada and the Dominion of Newfoundland saw Labrador increased at Quebec's expense – this land returned to Canada, as part of the province of Newfoundland, in 1949. In 1999, Nunavut was created from the eastern portion of the Northwest Territories. Yukon lies in the western portion of The North, while Nunavut is in the east.
All three territories combined are the most sparsely populated region in Canada, covering 3,921,739 km2 (1,514,192 sq mi) in land area. They are often referred to as a single region, The North, for organisational and economic purposes. For much of the Northwest Territories' early history it was divided into several districts for ease of administration. The District of Keewatin was created as a separate territory from 1876 to 1905, after which, as the Keewatin Region, it became an administrative district of the Northwest Territories. In 1999, it was dissolved when it became part of Nunavut.
Theoretically, provinces have a great deal of power relative to the federal government, with jurisdiction over many public goods such as health care, education, welfare, and intra-provincial transportation. They receive "transfer payments" from the federal government to pay for these, as well as exacting their own taxes. In practice, however, the federal government can use these transfer payments to influence these provincial areas. For instance, in order to receive healthcare funding under Medicare, provinces must agree to meet certain federal mandates, such as universal access to required medical treatment.
Provincial and territorial legislatures have no second chamber like the Canadian Senate. Originally, most provinces did have such bodies, known as legislative councils, with members titled councillors. These upper houses were abolished one by one, Quebec's being the last in 1968. In most provinces, the single house of the legislature is known as the Legislative Assembly; the exceptions are Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, where the chamber is called the House of Assembly, and Quebec where it is called the National Assembly. Ontario has a Legislative Assembly but its members are called Members of the Provincial Parliament or MPPs. The legislative assemblies use a procedure similar to that of the Canadian House of Commons. The head of government of each province, called the premier, is generally the head of the party with the most seats. This is also the case in Yukon, but the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have no political parties at the territorial level. The Queen's representative to each province is the Lieutenant Governor. In each of the territories there is an analogous Commissioner, but he or she represents the federal government rather than the monarch.
|Jurisdiction||Legislature||Lower house||Members of lower house||Head of Government||Viceroy|
|Canada||Parliament||House of Commons||Member of Parliament||Prime Minister||Governor General|
|Ontario||Legislative Assembly||Member of the Provincial Parliament*||Premier||Lieutenant Governor|
|Quebec†||Legislature||National Assembly||Member of the National Assembly|
|Nova Scotia||General Assembly||House of Assembly||Member of the Legislative Assembly|
|New Brunswick||Legislature||Legislative Assembly|
|Prince Edward Island§||General Assembly|
|General Assembly||House of Assembly||Member of the House of Assembly|
|Northwest Territories||Assembly||Legislative Assembly||Member of the Legislative Assembly||Premier‖||Commissioner|
Each of the territories elects one Member of Parliament. Canadian territories are each entitled to elect one full voting representative to the Canadian House of Commons. With the sole exception that Prince Edward Island has slightly greater per capita representation than the Northwest Territories, each of the territories has considerably greater per capita representation in the Commons than any of the provinces, although the territories have more limited autonomy than the provinces. Each territory also has one Senator.
Most provinces have provincial counterparts to the three national federal parties. However, some provincial parties are not formally linked to the federal parties that share the same name. The New Democratic Party and Green Party of Canada have integrated membership between the provincial and federal wings. Some provinces have regional political parties, such as the Saskatchewan Party.
The provincial political climate of Quebec is quite different: the main split is between sovereignty, represented by the Parti Québécois, and federalism, represented primarily by the Quebec Liberal Party.
The provincial Progressive Conservative parties are also now separate from the federal Conservative Party, which resulted from a merger between the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance. In most provinces the provincial Liberal Party separated from the federal Liberal Party and are now independent entities.
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial, near Vimy, Pas-de-Calais, and the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, near Beaumont-Hamel, France are ceremonially considered Canadian territory. In 1922, the French government donated the land used for the Vimy Memorial "freely, and for all time, to the Government of Canada the free use of the land exempt from all taxes". The site of the Somme battlefield near Beaumont-Hamel site was purchased in 1921 by the people of the Dominion of Newfoundland. These sites do not, however, enjoy extraterritorial status and are thus subject to French law.
Proposed provinces and territories
Since Confederation in 1867, there have been several proposals for new Canadian provinces and territories. The Constitution of Canada requires an amendment for the creation of a new province but the creation of a new territory requires only an act of Parliament; therefore, it is easier legislatively to create a territory than a province.
In late 2004, Prime Minister Paul Martin surprised some observers by expressing his personal support for all three territories gaining provincial status "eventually". He cited their importance to the country as a whole and the ongoing need to assert sovereignty in the Arctic, particularly as global warming could make that region more open to exploitation leading to more complex international waters disputes.
- Canadian provincial and territorial name etymologies
- Language policies of Canada's provinces and territories
- List of areas disputed by Canada and the United States
- List of Canada-related topics by provinces and territories
- List of regions of Canada
- List of governments in Canada by annual expenditures
- Provincial museums of Canada
- Canada – Wikipedia book
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Provinces and territories of Canada.|
- Provincial and territorial government web sites - Service Canada
- Provincial and territorial legislature web sites - Parliament of Canada
- Difference between provinces and territories - Intergovernmental Affairs
- Provincial and territorial statistics - Statistics Canada
- Provincial and territorial immigration information - Citizenship and Immigration Canada
- Canadian governments compared - University of Public Administration