I see that Canada became independent in 1867. But someone told me it wasn't truly independent until the 1980s. Is that true? In what sense is it true? I don't see anything about it in that article or in the See Also section.

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    The answer depends on your definition of "truly independent". It still has the Governor, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_General_of_Canada appointed by the Queen.
    – Alex
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 4:00
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    @Alex Appointed by the Queen of Canada to be specific.
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 6:16
  • 7
    @RossRidge and nominated by the Prime Minister of Canada
    – Henry
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 8:35

2 Answers 2


There have been several stages in the history of Canadian independence.

Canada became a self-governing dominion within the British empire on 1 July 1867 when the British North America Act was passed by the UK Parliament.

The Statute of Westminster, passed by the UK Parliament in 1931, acknowledged Canada as co-equal with the United Kingdom within the British Commonwealth.

Canada obtained full autonomy when the UK Parliament passed the Canada Act 1982 in 1982. This granted full sovereignty to Canada, and so marks the date at which Canada became truly independent.

As a side note, and as noted in the comments below, the Queen's role as monarch of Canada is entirely separate from her role as the British monarch. She is Queen of the United Kingdom, and also, Queen of Canada by an act of the Canadian Parliament (The Royal Style and Titles Act).

The fact that the Queen is head of state of both the UK and Canada (and also in 15 other Commonwealth nations) does not affect Canada's sovereignty as an independent country at all.

  • British recognition of Canadian independence arguably came in the 1926 Balfour Declaration (not the 1917 one) or in 1928 when it appointed a High Commissioner as the equivalent of an ambassador
    – Henry
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 8:55
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    So theoretically they could appoint another sovereign. Like one of the currently unemployed princes. That would be cool.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 11:47
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    @Acccumulation The phrase to search for for further information is "personal union". There's been many such instances in history. In the past when the monarch actually had control of the country much of it was formalism, but these days, when the monarch's power is mostly formalism, the gulf between a personal union and an actual union is much wider.
    – R.M.
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 12:01
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    Another event that might be worth mentioning is the declaration of war in WW2, which was a practical realization of the Statute of Westminister. An augmentation to the "Queen of Canada" note is that UK and Canada carefully synchronize their changes to their royal inheritance to avoid splitting the crown. The last one was durign the pregancy of the former Ms. Middleton.
    – Yakk
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 15:26
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    A big moment in Canada's "coming of age" as a nation was at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917. The taking of the Ridge, which had been in enemy hands for almost the entire war, cost over 2,000 Canadian lives. But it is still regarded today as Canada's greatest feat of arms, and something that helped establish the idea of an independent Canada. In WW2, whilst Australian and New Zealand forces served under British senior officers, Canada had its own structure independently answerable to Allied High Command.
    – WS2
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 19:29

The subject isn't nearly as simple as it is for the USA. The event in the 1980s was Patriation of the Canadian constitution, which removed the power of the UK parliament to amend the Canadian constitution with the consent of the Canadian government. This was done by the UK parliament, at the request of the Canadian parliament.

That power had been retained by the UK parliament after the Statute of Westminster in 1931, because of disagreements between the Canadian provinces and their federal government about how to amend the constitution. The Statute of Westminster had made the Dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland and South Africa, Ireland was a special case) the legislative equals of the UK, which made them fully independent states. The Canadian constitutional oddity allowed the rest of the Statute to go forward, and was eventually sorted out.

  • 1
    @DavidRicherby The Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 created the Irish Free State as a self-governing dominion. Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 0:34
  • 2
    @sempaiscuba - and in particular it said that the Irish Free State was as independent as Canada (rather than mentioning Australia or New Zealand or South Africa or Newfoundland)
    – Henry
    Commented Dec 1, 2017 at 8:45

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