The Greatest Event In Canadian History?

There are those who will insist that the 1972 Summit Series is the greatest event in Canadian history.

With all due respect to those who think that, that would be sad. The nation's most defining moment coming in a sporting event? One would hope not.

Make no doubt, the 1972 Summit Series ranks high on the list, and so it should. And no one appreciates the impact it made on the country more than me - I spent countless hours making this website after all.

Over the years, there have been many lists and polls which rank the greatest moments in Canadian history. At the turn of the 21st century we were bombarded by them, not surprisingly.

Also no surprise was that the heroics of Paul Henderson and the epic battle against the Soviets which affected Canadians so deeply had not been lost over the years. It ranked in the top 10 of almost every such list.

One such list was conducted courtesy the Dominion Institute - one of the modern leaders of preserving Canadian history. Using an online form they allowed Canadians to vote for the even they felt was the most significant in Canadian history.

Canadians selected Confederation as the greatest moment in Canadian history. And well they should. Without the union of the British colonies back on July 1st, 1867 there wouldn't be a Canada, or for that matter a Team Canada to play hockey against the Russians in 1972!

Henderson's goal ranked in at #5. Some stuff history teachers might scoff at this lofty ranking, but I feel it is about right. The greatness wasn't that Henderson scored a goal to win a game. Not even close. The greatness was the way the entire country - divided like perhaps never before or since - rallied around a group of 50 hockey players and coaches and put their differences aside and all took such great pride in the country.

Below is the complete results of the 2000 Dominion Institute survey which determined the greatest events in Canadian history:

1. Confederation: The union of the British North American colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Canada (Upper and Lower) on 1 July 1867. Confederation entrenched in law the new country's commitment to a strong federal government, respect for French Canada's heritage, parliamentary democracy and a transcontinental destiny.

2. Completing the CPR: The symbolic 'Last Spike' was driven on Nov. 7, 1885 by Donald Smith and signalled the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The building of the CPR was one of the conditions of BC's entry into Confederation in 1871.

3. War of 1812: For more than two years, Canada and the United States fought a series of bloody battles along the present-day border. Despite the numerical strength of the US armies, British and First Nations troops fought the Americans to a stalemate.

4. Vimy Ridge: Canada's greatest military victory in W.W.I. On April 9, 1917 Canadian troops succeed where the British and French had failed by forcing the German army off a strategic hilltop on the Allied front. 3598 Canadians gave their lives in the assault.

5. Henderson Goal: 1972 Hockey Series began with a skilled Soviet team threatening Canadian hockey supremacy. Team Canada fought back and in the final seconds of the deciding game Leaf's player Paul Henderson scored the winning goal.

6. Canada & W.W.II: From the D-Day landings to the liberation of Holland, Canada made a major contribution to the Allied victory in W.W.II. Of the over 1,000,000 Canadians who served in the war, approximately 42,000 lost their lives.

7. Constitution's Patriation: Occurred over two years starting in 1980. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau negotiated a new constitutional arrangement between the provinces and the federal government, and the introduction of Charter of Right and Freedoms.

8. Plains of Abraham: The Battle on the Plains of Abraham in 1759 saw General Wolfe defeat the French army commanded by Montcalm outside Quebec City. Wolfe's victory marked the end of France's rule over Canada and the start of Britain's.

9. Maple Leaf Flag: In February 1965 the Maple Leaf replaced the British Union Flag that had been flown as Canada's official standard since 1867. The product of a raucous parliamentary debate, the new flag signified Canada's growing independence from Britain.

10. Persons Case: Gave women the right to hold public office in 1929. The legal challenge was spearheaded by a group of women activists known as the 'Famous Five.'

(Source: Dominion Institute)