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The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second largest country. The major difference between a Canadianmarker 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.

Currently, the ten provinces are Albertamarker, British Columbiamarker, Manitobamarker, New Brunswickmarker, Newfoundland and Labradormarker, Nova Scotiamarker, Ontariomarker, Prince Edward Islandmarker, Quebecmarker, and Saskatchewanmarker, while the three territories are Northwest Territoriesmarker, Nunavutmarker, and Yukonmarker.

Location of provinces and territories


The following table is listed in the order of precedence (i.e. when a province entered into Confederation).

Provinces of Canada
Flag Arms Province Postal abbreviation/

ISO code
Capital Largest City Entered Confederation Population

Total Area
Official Language(s) House of Commons Senate
Ontariomarker ON Torontomarker Torontomarker July 1, 1867 12,891,787 917,741 158,654 1,076,395 English1

107 24
Quebecmarker QC Quebec Citymarker Montrealmarker July 1, 1867 7,744,530 1,356,128 185,928 1,542,056 French 75 24
Nova Scotiamarker NS Halifaxmarker Halifaxmarker July 1, 1867 935,962 53,338 1,946 55,284 English1 11 10
New Brunswickmarker NB Frederictonmarker Saint Johnmarker July 1, 1867 751,527 71,450 1,458 72,908 English, French 10 10
Manitobamarker MB Winnipegmarker Winnipegmarker July 15, 1870 1,196,291 553,556 94,241 647,797 English1

14 6
British Columbiamarker BC Victoriamarker Vancouvermarker July 20, 1871 4,428,356 925,186 19,549 944,735 English1 36 6
Prince Edward Islandmarker PE Charlottetownmarker Charlottetownmarker July 1, 1873 139,407 5,660 0 5,660 English1 4 4
Saskatchewanmarker SK Reginamarker Saskatoonmarker September 1, 1905 1,010,146 591,670 59,366 651,036 English1 14 6
Albertamarker AB Edmontonmarker Calgarymarker September 1, 1905 3,512,368 642,317 19,531 661,848 English1 28 6
Newfoundland and Labradormarker NL St. John'smarker St. John'smarker March 31, 1949 508,270 373,872 31,340 405,212 English1 7 6

1. De facto

2. De jure

Prior to Confederation, Ontario and Quebec were part of the Province of Canada.

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island were separate colonies before joining Canada.

Manitoba was established 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. The Labrador region had been recognised as a possession of Newfoundland since 1927. The provincial name was changed from Newfoundland to Newfoundland and Labrador by constitutional amendment on 6 December 2001.


There are currently three territories in Canada. Unlike the provinces, the territories of Canada have no inherent jurisdiction and only have those powers delegated to them by the federal government. They include all of mainland Canada north of latitude 60° north and west of Hudson Baymarker, as well as essentially all islands north of the Canadian mainland (from those in James Baymarker to the Canadian Arctic islandsmarker). The following table lists the territories in order of precedence (territories take precedence after provinces regardless of the date of their creation).

Territories of Canada
Flag Arms Territory Postal abbreviation/

ISO code
Capital and largest city Entered Confederation Population

Area (km2) Official Language(s) Canadian Parliament
Land Water Total House of Commons Senate
Northwest Territoriesmarker NT Yellowknifemarker July 15, 1870 42,514 1,183,085 163,021 1,346,106 Chipewyan, Cree, English, French, Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, North Slavey, South Slavey, Tłįchǫ 1 1
Yukonmarker YT Whitehorsemarker June 13, 1898 31,530 474,391 8,052 482,443 English, French 1 1
Nunavutmarker NU Iqaluitmarker April 1, 1999 31,152 1,936,113 157,077 2,093,190 Inuinnaqtun, Inuktitut, English, French 1 1

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.


[[File:Canada provinces evolution 2.gif|thumb|300px|right|alt=When Canada was formed in 1867 its provinces were a relatively narrow strip in the southeast, with vast territories in the interior. It grew by adding British Columbia in 1871, P.E.I. in 1873, the British Arctic Islands in 1880, and Newfoundland in 1949; meanwhile, its provinces grew both in size and number at the expense of its territories.|CANADA TIMELINE:Evolution of the borders and the names of Canada's Provinces and 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 Kingdommarker. 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 council, 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.

Federal, Provincial, and Territorial terminology compared
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)
Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly Member of the House of Assembly (MHA)
Nova Scotia Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA)
Other provinces Legislative Assembly
Territories Commissioner Premier
*Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island historically had Legislative Councils, analogous to the federal Senate.

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.

Provincial parties

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.

Current Provincial/Territorial Governments (2009)
Province Party in government Majority/Minority Premier Lieutenant-Governor/Commissioner
Ontario Ontario Liberal Party Majority Dalton McGuinty David Onley
Quebec Parti libéral du Québec 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 Norman Kwong
Newfoundland & Labrador Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador Majority Danny Williams John Crosbie
Northwest Territories Consensus government None Floyd Roland Tony Whitford
Yukon Yukon Party / Parti du Yukon Majority Dennis Fentie Geraldine Van Bibber
Nunavut Consensus government None Eva Aariak Ann Meekitjuk Hanson


The Canadian National Vimy Memorialmarker, near Vimymarker, Pas-de-Calais département, Francemarker, 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 Caribbeanmarker, 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.

See also


*Bumsted, J. (2004). History of the Canadian Peoples, Oxford: Oxford University Press (ISBN 0-19-541688-0)
*Statistics Canada Population by province and territory, by sex and age group,
*Canada Online Provincial Government Organization

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