The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories. The major difference between a Canadian province and a territory is that provinces are jurisdictions that receive their power and authority directly from the Constitution Act, 1867, whereas territories derive their mandates and powers from the federal government.
The ten provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan, while the three territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.
The following table is listed in the order of precedence (i.e. when a province entered into Confederation).
|Official Language(s)||House of Commons||Senate|
|Toronto||Toronto||July 1, 1867||13,167,894||917,741||158,654||1,076,395||English1
|Quebec City||Montreal||July 1, 1867||7,886,108||1,356,128||185,928||1,542,056||French3||75||24|
|Halifax||Halifax||July 1, 1867||940,482||53,338||1,946||55,284||English1||11||10|
|Fredericton||Saint John||July 1, 1867||751,273||71,450||1,458||72,908||English4
|Winnipeg||Winnipeg||July 15, 1870||1,232,654||553,556||94,241||647,797||English5
|Victoria||Vancouver||July 20, 1871||4,510,858||925,186||19,549||944,735||English1||36||6|
|Prince Edward Island||P.E.I.
|Charlottetown||Charlottetown||July 1, 1873||141,551||5,660||0||5,660||English1||4||4|
|Regina||Saskatoon||September 1, 1905||1,041,729||591,670||59,366||651,036||English1||14||6|
|Edmonton||Calgary||September 1, 1905||3,724,832||642,317||19,531||661,848||English1||28||6|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||Nfld., Lab.
|St. John's||St. John's||March 31, 1949||510,901||373,872||31,340||405,212||English1||7||6|
1. de facto
2. French Language Services Act
3. Charter of the French Language
4. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
5. Manitoba Act
Prior to Confederation, Ontario and Quebec formed the Province of Canada.
British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island were separate colonies before joining Canada.
Manitoba was created simultaneously with the Northwest Territories.
Saskatchewan and Alberta were created out of land that had been part of the Northwest Territories.
Newfoundland was an independent Dominion within the British Commonwealth prior to joining Canada. Britain recognized Labrador as a possession of Newfoundland in 1927. The official name of the province changed from Newfoundland to Newfoundland and Labrador by constitutional amendment on 6 December 2001.
With the exception of Fredericton, the provincial capitals are all either the largest or second-largest cities in their respective provinces (Fredericton is the third largest city in New Brunswick after Moncton and Saint John).
There are currently three territories in Canada. Unlike the provinces, the territories of Canada have no inherent jurisdiction 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 essentially 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 (km2)||Official Language(s)||Canadian Parliament|
|Land||Water||Total||House of Commons||Senate|
|Northwest Territories||NT||Yellowknife||July 15, 1870||43,529||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||34,246||474,391||8,052||482,443||English
|Nunavut||NU||Iqaluit||April 1, 1999||32,900||1,936,113||157,077||2,093,190||Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut,
Note: Canada did not acquire any new land to create Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Nunavut. All of these originally formed part of the Northwest Territories.
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 until 1870, when it turned over the land to the Government of Canada, forming part of the Northwest Territories. Manitoba and the Northwest Territories were created in 1870 from Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory. At the time, the land comprising the Northwest Territories was all of current northern and western Canada, including the northern two thirds of Ontario and Quebec, with exception of the Arctic Islands, British Columbia and a small portion of southern Manitoba. On September 1, 1905, a portion of the Northwest Territories south of the 60° parallel 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 concerns that central Canada would dominate taxation and economic policy. In 1907, Newfoundland acquired dominion status. In 1933, facing national bankruptcy, the legislature turned over political control to the Commission of Government. Following World War II, in a 1948 referendum, a narrow majority of Newfoundland citizens voted to join Confederation and, on March 31, 1949, Newfoundland became Canada's tenth and final 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, in 1927, occurred when a boundary dispute between the province of Quebec and the Dominion of Newfoundland saw Labrador increased at Quebec's expense.
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 with about 100,000 people spread across a huge area. They are often referred to as a single region, The North, for organisational purposes. The District of Keewatin was created as a separate territory from 1876 to 1905, after which, as the Keewatin Region, it became an administration district of the Northwest Territories. In 1999, it was dissolved when it became part of Nunavut.
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.
Theoretically, provinces have a great deal of power relative to the federal government, with jurisdiction over many public goods such as healthcare, 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, but these were subsequently abolished, Quebec's being the last in 1968. In most provinces, the single house of the legislature is known as the Legislative Assembly except in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, where it is called the House of Assembly, and Quebec where it is generally 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 and not the monarch per se.
|Canada||Governor General||Prime Minister||Parliament||Parliamentarian|
|Senate||House of Commons||Senator||Member of Parliament|
|Ontario||Lieutenant-Governor||Premier||n/a*||Legislative Assembly||n/a||Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP)|
|Quebec||National Assembly||Member of the National Assembly (MNA)|
|House of Assembly||Member of the House of Assembly (MHA)|
|Nova Scotia||Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA)|
|Other provinces||Legislative Assembly|
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 of Prince Edward Island having slightly greater per capita representation than the Northwest Territories, every territory has considerably greater per capita representation in the Commons than every other province. Residents of the Canadian territories are full citizens and enjoy the same rights as all other Canadians. 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 is the only party that has 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. From March 2007 to December 2008, the Official Opposition was the Action démocratique du Québec, which advocates what it calls "autonomy", a middle-of-the-road option supporting localised power in the Federal structure. They have no corresponding Federal party, but polls show their base to align with the Federal Conservative Party of Canada.
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 British Columbia, the Liberal Party separated from the federal Liberal Party and is now an independent entity.
|Province||Party in government||Majority/Minority||Premier||Lieutenant-Governor/
|Ontario||Ontario Liberal Party||Majority||Dalton McGuinty||David Onley|
|Quebec||Parti libéral du Québec (Quebec Liberal Party)||Majority||Jean Charest||Pierre Duchesne|
|Nova Scotia||Nova Scotia New Democratic Party||Majority||Darrell Dexter||Mayann Francis|
|New Brunswick||New Brunswick Liberal Association / Association libérale du Nouveau-Brunswick||Majority||Shawn Graham||Graydon Nicholas|
|Manitoba||New Democratic Party of Manitoba||Majority||Greg Selinger||Philip S. Lee|
|British Columbia||British Columbia Liberal Party||Majority||Gordon Campbell||Steven Point|
|Prince Edward Island||Prince Edward Island Liberal Party||Majority||Robert Ghiz||Barbara Oliver Hagerman|
|Saskatchewan||Saskatchewan Party||Majority||Brad Wall||Gordon Barnhart|
|Alberta||Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta||Majority||Ed Stelmach||Donald Ethell|
|Newfoundland & Labrador||Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador||Majority||Danny Williams||John Crosbie|
|Northwest Territories||Consensus government||None||Floyd Roland||George Tuccaro|
|Yukon||Yukon Party / Parti du Yukon||Majority||Dennis Fentie||Geraldine Van Bibber|
|Nunavut||Consensus government||None||Eva Aariak||Edna Elias|
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial, near Vimy, Pas-de-Calais département, France, is ceremonially considered Canadian territory. In 1922 the French government donated "freely, and for all time, to the Government of Canada the free use of the land exempt from all taxes". However, it does not enjoy extraterritorial status and is thus subject to French law.
In the past, there has been interest in both Canada and the Turks and Caicos Islands, an overseas UK territory in the Caribbean, for the latter to enter Confederation in some capacity. While no official negotiations are underway, the two have a long-standing relationship and politicians on both sides have actively explored the circumstances under which a political union could be achieved.