Canada Canada

Canada’s Provinces & Territories: 13 Divisions Explored

In this article, we will discuss how many provinces and territories in Canada are there.

The world’s second-largest country with a 9.1 million square kilometers landmass, Canada lies in the top half of North America. Three water oceans, namely the Pacific, Atlantic, and the Arctic, enclose the country.

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, wherein the head of the state is the monarch. In practice, the Cabinet conducts the executive powers, a committee of Crown ministers accountable to the elected House of Commons of Canada and chosen and headed by the Prime Minister of Canada.

Currently, the Canadian federation consists of 13 political divisions: ten provinces and three territories. The primary distinctness between a Canadian province and a Canadian territory is that the provinces establish the April 17, 1982, Constitution Act, while the territories are a creation of the Federal government.

Parliament- the lawmaker in Canada

The Canadian parliament comprises three elements- the Crown, the Senate, and the House of Commons. The laws made by the parliament are made in the form of statutes or “Acts.”

The consent of all three elements to the bill (a draft act) is essential to become a law. The acknowledgment of the Crown is always the last stage of the law-making process.

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

Power division in Canada

The Canadian constitution has segregated the governing power between two levels of government- the federal government and the provincial government.

Federal government

The Federal government is responsible for creating laws and services that affect the whole country. Some federal responsibilities include:

  • national defense
  • foreign affairs
  • employment insurance
  • banking
  • federal taxes
  • the post office
  • copyright law
  • criminal law

Provincial Government

The provincial and territorial governments exercise the power of making law-relating decisions that affect their territory precisely. The provincial responsibilities include:

  • provincial taxes
  • hospitals
  • prisons
  • education
  • marriage
  • property and civil rights
  • rules of the road
  • age of majority

Canadian History- Acts that led to the creation of Canadian provinces and territories

Three colonies in British North America, Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, came together to form a “Federal Union” called Canada in 1867. Henceforward, all British ownership in North America assimilated into the Canadian federation. At present, Canada is composed of ten provinces and three territories.

The top acts that led to the formation of the provinces and territories of the Canadian Federation are proclamations of the British Parliament because, until 1867, Canada was not considered independent of Great Britain by the federal union. The advancement of Canada towards becoming an independent state was a gradual process.

The major points in this development are:

  1. The British Parliament’s authorization of the Statute of Westminster, 1931, bestowed Canada with complete jurisdiction over its foreign policy.
  2. Another sanction by the British Parliament of the Canada Act, 1982, which prominently provided for the “repatriation” of the Constitution, post which the country was granted its political autonomy.

All of Canada’s constitutional acts originated from the Canadian Parliament in 1982.

1867: British North America Act, 1867

Enactment of the British Parliament (one of Canada’s constitutional acts) in response to the motive of the legislative assemblies of three colonies – the Province of Canada (comprising both east and west of Canada), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick – to form a “Federal Union” comprising of four provinces: Ontario (Canada West), Quebec (Canada East), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Section 146 of the British North America Act, 1867 permits the feasibility of additional British possessions in North America – the colonies (Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia), the lands of the Hudson’s Bay Company (Rupert’s Land), and the colossal territories on the northwestern edge of the continent (the North-Western Territory) – taken into the feudal union due to the lawfulness of the British Crown on addresses from the Parliament of Canada and, in the case of colonies, from their respective legislative assembly.

In 1982, the British North America Act, 1867 was assigned the name Constitution Act, 1867.

1870: Manitoba Act

According to these constitutional acts, a part of the northwest territories ( presently a region of Winnipeg) was standardized as a province named Manitoba. In 1871, an act of the British Parliament, the British North America Act 1871, corroborated, among other things, the competencies of the Parliament of Canada to create provinces in territories, excluded in the provinces, and to make arrangements for administration and government in those territories.

1870: Order of Her Majesty in Council admitting Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory into the Union

This order in council of the British Crown, on the appeal of the Parliament of Canada, approved the incorporation of Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory to Canada. Since then, the collaboration of these territories would be addressed as the Northwest territories. Britain gave up the Arctic islands to Canada

1871: Order of Her Majesty in Council admitting British Columbia into the Union

Again on the appeal of the Parliament of Canada and the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, this order of the British crown agreed to combine this outpost into the Canadian federal union as a province.

1873: Order of Her Majesty in Council admitting Prince Edward Island into the Union

On the appeal of the Parliament of Canada and the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island, this order in the British Crown council authorized the admittance of this into the Canadian federal union as a province.

1898: Yukon Territory Act

Under this act of the Parliament, the western part of the Northwest Territories, north of the 60th parallel, was formulated into the Yukon territory.

1905: Saskatchewan Act and Alberta Act

A major portion of the Northwest Territories south of the 60th parallel were arranged into two new provinces, namely Saskatchewan and Alberta, under this Act of the Canadian Parliament.

1949: British North America Act, 1949

Ensuing two referenda in the community of Newfoundland (which was without a legislative assembly since 1934) and an address from the Parliament of Canada, the British Parliament sanctioned the merger of the oldest British occupancies in North America with the Canadian federal union as a province preserved the name Newfoundland. The law is one of Canada’s constitutional laws.

1993: Nunavut Act

This parliamentary act led to the organization of the eastern part of the Northwest Territories into the separate Territory of Nunavut. The act came into force in April 1999.

  • Also, Britain gave up the Arctic islands to Canada in 1880, approximately 36 500 islands that formulate most of Northern Canada.

A series of events led to the gradual independence of Canada and several mergers of various outposts and territories; Canada emerged as the second-largest country in the world.

How many provinces and territories in Canada

CANADA- Provinces + Territories explained (Geography Now!)

You might wonder why two labels are used to designate places (provinces and territories), what might be the disparity in these two terms or if there is any difference at all, but there lies a major difference in the usage of the two words.

The prime distinctness between the Canadian provinces and Canadian territories is that of government structure. As the territories were created by federal law, the federal government has straightforward control over them, while the provinces are an establishment of the Constitution Act (April 17, 1982). Canadian Provinces and territories are assigned their government (provincial and federal). Thereby the provincial governments exert constitutional powers in their own right.

Canadian provinces


Canadian provinces house 97% of the population and function similarly to American states, and they exercise their constitutional powers. Each province has its uniqueness and varied attractions for visitors, such as hiking trails, scenic spots, beautiful lakes, terrific sunsets, and many more. The provinces in Canada are ten in statistics.

The vast majority of Canada’s population resides in areas closer to the Canada-US border. The four largest provinces in the area context are Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta.

In contrast, other provinces are New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan.

1. Alberta

Canada Road Trip: BEST Things To Do In ALBERTA, CANADA!

The province of Alberta is named after Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, who was admitted to the Canadian federation in 1905. The capital city of this province is Edmonton, the other prominent city of Alberta in Calgary, Banff, and Jasper.

This three prairie Canadian province shares the Canadian Rocky Mountain range with its western B.C. neighbor and is a renowned ski and hiking haven. Alberta is also popular for hosting the Calgary Stampede, which exhibits the discrete cowboy culture of the province, and the Edmonton folk festival is also worth-witnessing.

A UNESCO- labeled world heritage site, ‘Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump,’ is also housed in Alberta. Besides this, Alberta is the dominant inventory and service hotspot for Canada’s crude oil industry, Athabasca oil sands, and other northern resource industries.

In terms of education, the University of Alberta is one of the countries’ research-based universities, and the city comprises some good cultural spots such as Edmonton Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Glenbow Museum, the largest museum in Western Canada, which contains an Art Gallery, a Library, and Archives with reference materials on western Canada.

2. British Columbia

Canada Road Trip: Best Things To Do In British Columbia

The country’s most western province, British Columbia, was initially named New Caledonia by Simon Fraser but was later named Columbia after the Columbia River and renamed British Columbia to avoid disorientation with the country of Colombia. British Columbia joined the federation of Canada in 1871.

Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the province offers some pleasant locations in the country. The coastal ranges and the mountainous inland draw evoke adventure seekers across the globe, involving skiers, kayakers, and mountain bikers.

The dominant cities of the province are Vancouver, Whistler, and Kelowna. The majority of the world population often confuses Vancouver as the British Columbia capital, whereas Victoria’s capital city.

Vancouver is a dynamic urbane city, and a residing place for 198 recognized First Nations; Whistler is a dwelling for winter sports, while Victoria’s capital is a whimsical town with horse-drawn carriages and the classic Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Other outdoor spots are the Okanagan Valley wine region, the far-flung and charming Haida Gwaii islands, and whale watching in the Inside Passage.

The Arts and Culture spots are Great Victoria Public Library, Vancouver Art Gallery, and Vancouver Public Library. Popular educational institutes are Malaspina University College and the University of Northern British Columbia.

3. Manitoba

Canada Road Trip: Best Things To Do in Manitoba

The eastern-most prairie province, the Canadian longitudinal center Manitoba is a place for some of the finest places in the world to view the Northern lights or aurora borealis. The capital city is Winnipeg, Churchill, and the city of Thompson are regarded as other major cities of the province.

The majority of Manitoba’s population resides in the Southern region, while the north constitutes Canadian Shield rock and arctic tundra which is uninhabited for the most part. Manitoba has been home to Aboriginal and Métis people for over 6,000 years, who persist in exercising overwhelming cultural clout.

Acknowledged as the world’s polar bear capital and for its two celebrations- Le Festival du Voyageur (a huge winter festival) and Folklorama (food and cultural festival). The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, can be spotted from Churchill, a top viewing site.

The University of Manitoba is the largest public university in the province, located in Winnipeg.

4. New Brunswick

Canada Road Trip: Best Things To Do In New Brunswick

Dwelling for the largest whirlpool in the western hemisphere, New Brunswick was named for King George III, who was also a Duke of Brunswick. The capital city of Brunswick is Fredericton, while other major cities are Moncton and Saint John.

Considered among the Maritime provinces of Canada, New Brunswick entered the federation in the year 1867 and is engaging primarily due to the Bay of Fundy, Appalachian Range, panoramic coastlines, and diverse lighthouses.

The University of New Brunswick, situated in eastern Canada, and the University of New Brunswick Libraries are renowned education hubs.

5. Newfoundland and Labrador

Canada Road Trip: Best Things To Do In Newfoundland

The easternmost of Canada’s provinces, Newfoundland and labrador, rest on the Atlantic. The third-fourth of the population dwells in Newfoundland and neighboring islands. The city of Saint John is the provincial capital.

It is best known for its cordial residents, the Gros Morne National Park (popular for its ascending glacier fjords), icebergs, and whale watching. This eastern province also has its time zone. Newfound runs ahead of Labrador by half an hour.

6. Nova scotia

Nova Scotia Travel Guide - The Best Road Trip Ideas | The Planet D

Another nautical province and a part of Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia, is the second smallest province with a population of 979,000, making it the second-massively populated province.

The major cities of Nova Scotia are Sydney, Wolfville, and Peggy’s Cove, while the capital city is Halifax. The province offers numerous coastal sites for its visitors and is famous for its lobster industry.

Known for its Brythonic civilization, the Fortress of Louisbourg (a National Historic Site), the location of a partially reconstructed 18th-century French fortress, and seafood like fresh lobster dinners, Nova Scotia is appreciated worthy for its natural artistry, which includes the enormous shorelines which are nests to puffins and seals, and the Annapolis Valley wine country, situated on the western part of the peninsula.

Prominent educational institutions include Dalhousie University and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, which also stands among the primeval cultural institute of Canada.

7. Ontario

The 10 Best Places To Live In Ontario (Canada)  - Job, Retire, Edu & Family

According to the statistics, Canada is the most populous Canadian province, with a 14,755,000 population. Ontario houses the national capital Ottawa, although the capital city of Ontario is Toronto, which is also the biggest city in Canada.

Many people reside in the Southern side of the province nearby Toronto, together with Ottawa, Niagra falls, and Niagra-on-the-lake. The Algonquin Park, the Niagara wine region, Bruce Trail (the oldest and longest continuous public footpath in Canada), and a variety of great forests and lakes happen to be the top-notch sites of the province.

Canada’s National Tower (CN tower) exemplifies the Toronto skyline at 1,800 feet. You can reach the top of the deck to the observation point and eat out with a panoramic view. This prodigy is among the world’s top stations.

Talking of education in Ontario, the University of Toronto and Western Ontario are renowned institutes and fascinates students across the globe.

8. Quebec

Quebec City | Real 8K

Noteworthy for its Canadian-french culture and Francophone population, Quebec is the second-most densely populated state, following Ontario. Quebec became a part of the Canadian federation in 1867. The provincial capital is Quebec city.

The main residential area is along the St. Lawrence River, specifically in and between the two prominent cities, Quebec City and Montreal. Old Montreal and the the Plains of Abraham (a historic site) and excellent skiing resorts are engaging places for visitors and the residents.

Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage reserve, gives you the vibes of towns in Europe with a city wall and cobblestone streets. Université du Québec is a well-known educational institute.

9. Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.)

Prince Edward Island, Canada

The last of the oceangoing province, Prince Edward Island, comprises numerous islands (230, to be precise, along with the main island), the largest having the same name. P.E.I. is the smallest province in the context of land area and a population with no land borders. The provincial capital is Charlottetown is well-known for the novel Anne of Green Gables and the appetizing mussels found in enclosed waters.

10. Saskatchewan

Canada Road Trip: Best Things To Do In Saskatchewan

The pivotal pastural province, Saskatchewan, is enclosed between Alberta and Manitoba. Most of the population dwells in the southern region of Saskatoon and Regina. The dominant industry is agriculture, followed by mining, oil, and natural gas production.

One can go fishing, hunting, and several other outdoor adventures in cities. The University of Saskatchewan depicts a historical element and is regarded among the most beautiful ones in the country.

Many of Canada’s provinces, with the exceptions of Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia, share a land border with the United States.

The three territories

Governed directly by the Federal Government, organized by statute, the territories have been gradually extended with more rights and responsibilities than the provinces. Hence extending more power to forms of local government.

The Northwest territories

Canada Road Trip: Best Things To Do In The Northwest Territories

With the maximum population among the three territories, the northwest territories are recognized for the Northern lights, the midnight sun, the Nahanni River, the centerpiece of Nahanni National Park Reserve, and craggy outdoor adventure.

The capital is the city of Yellowknife, and the natives of the northwest territories know a total of 11 languages.

The name Northwest territories is a simple, eloquent name given to the area by the Canadian government.

Nunavut Territory


In 1999, Nunavut territory became a part of Canada’s federation. The territory is the largest and northern-most among its types. The capital city is Iqaluit, and travelers seeking adventures come to check out the narwhals and polar bears and delve into this far-flung territory.

Nunavut is also known for its native Inuit artwork, carvings, and traditional handmade clothing exhibited in the capital at Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum.

3. Yukon Territory

Exploring the Yukon Territory, Canada & Alaska

The smallest of Canada’s territories shares its borders with Alaska. The capital is Whitehorse, housed in the southern portion of the territory and is the only city of Yukon. The area on the Arctic coast has a tundra climate.

People travel to Yukon to see the Northern lights, the historic Klondike Gold Rush locations, Mount Logan (the highest mountain in Canada) in Kluane National Park, the midnight sun (when the sun is visible at midnight), and to try dog sledding as well.

The provinces and territories of Canada can be extremely challenging to live in due to the extreme climatic conditions that prevail almost throughout the year.

Last Updated on by alishbarehman


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