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The political upheaval of the 1980s continued, as Europe struggled to integrate its former eastern and central communist states. After decades of international condemnation and internal armed protest in South Africa, the laws of apartheid were repealed in 1991. The country elected its first democratic government in 1994. In Canada, both the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown Accord failed to bring Quebec into the 'constitutional family,' leading to an unsuccessful provincial referendum on Quebec separation in 1995. The World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau for their employer CERN, the nuclear physics laboratory in Switzerland. In the automobile sector, larger vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, increased in popularity. Japanese cars continued to challenge domestic automakers for dominance in the market. By the end of the decade, airbags and shoulder straps had become mandatory safety equipment in new cars.


The University of Alberta's modified Ford Escort Hybrid that competed in the 1993 Hybrid Electric Vehicle Challenge


Ford Escort Hybrid

The University of Alberta's modified Ford Escort Hybrid places first in the 1993 Hybrid Electric Vehicle Challenge.

The Ford Motor Company donated a 1992 Ford Escort to the University of Alberta, Department of Mechanical Engineering to be modified for the competition. Over 3,000 North American universities applied to compete in the challenge and 30 were chosen as finalists. Finalist teams were given 18 months to build a safe, practical, road-licensed, hybrid-electric car. The University of Alberta placed first in the Range event, the Acceleration event and the Commuter Challenge event. It also won the Best Performance Vehicle award and the Design Innovation and Creativity Award.

Photo: Reynolds-Alberta Museum R1999.019.001

The Corvette designed by Canadian Paul Deutschman entered in the 1994 LeMans 24 hour race


Callaway enters their modified Corvette in the 24 Heures du Mans, a 24 hour race in Le Mans, France.

Canadian designer, Paul Deutschman, collaborates with Callaway cars to design radically new bodywork for the car. The car went on to earn a front, inside track position for the final race at LeMans, as well as many other international racing awards.

Photo: Callaway Cars

The Toyota Prius is a hybrid vehicle, combining battery power for city driving and gas power for highway driving


Toyota Prius—Canadians discover hybrid cars.

The first Toyota Prius went on sale in 1997 in Japan, though it had already been imported privately to the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. By 2001, it was available in North America.

Photo: Canada Science and Technology Museum 2002.0351

In The News

Mohawk 'Warrior' and a soldier surrounded by a group of journalists and photographers


The Oka Crisis lasts from July 11th to September 26th.

The Oka Crisis began when the town of Oka, Quebec, moved to expand a golf course and create a residential development on lands to which the Mohawk Nation at Kanesatake had laid claim. When the town refused to cancel their plans, the Mohawk set up a barricade blocking access to the disputed area. The Sûreté du Quebec was brought in to disperse the blockade, but this resulted in an exchange of gunfire, and the death of a police officer. In solidarity with the Mohawk at Kanesatake, other Mohawk communities established barricades which caused severe traffic jams. After the RCMP failed in its attempt to diffuse the situation, the Canadian Army was called in on August 20th. On August 29th, an end to the crisis was negotiated. However the crisis didn't actually end until September 26th, as small skirmishes continued. The golf course expansion was cancelled, and a First Nations Policing Policy was developed to help prevent future violent confrontations.

Photo: 1990
DND Photo, ISC-90-506

Protesters in Halifax when three warships leave for Gulf War, August 24, 1990


Canada enters the Persian Gulf War.

In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. The invasion triggered international condemnation and economic sanctions against Iraq. Canada was one of the first nations to join the 34-nation UN coalition, which was led by the U.S. The Canadian contingent included a destroyer, a frigate and a supply ship. A squadron of CF-18 fighter jets arrived later. The coalition's stated goal was to preserve the territorial independence of Kuwait. Another justification given for the invasion was to protect Saudi Arabia, which borders Kuwait to the south and west, as the Saudis were a key supplier of oil to the west.

Photo: 5 March , 1991
Mark Simkins

The Right Honourable A. Kim Campbell.


Kim Campbell becomes the first woman Prime Minister of Canada.

While Kim Campbell was not elected, and her term as Prime Minister lasted only four months, she had an approval rating of 51%, the highest of any Prime Minister in 30 years. While in office, she re-organized cabinet and certain portfolios, and reduced the number of ministers from 35 to 23.

Photographer: Denise Grant
© Denise Grant
Photo courtesy of Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell and Library and Archives Canada.

NAFTA Initialing Ceremony.  From left to right (standing) President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, President George H. W. Bush, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. (Seated) Jaime Serra Puche, Carla Hills, Michael Wilson.


The governments of Canada, the United States, and Mexico sign the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA was a trilateral agreement which superseded the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement of 1988. The agreement was intended to eliminate trade barriers between the three countries, and to create stronger economies as a result. Its critics argued that the three economies were not of equal strength and stability, and that substantial risk existed, including the loss of jobs, lowering of health, safety, and labour standards, and the loss of control over essential natural resources.

Photo: October, 1992
George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Nunavut means 'Our Land' in Inuktituk.  It is 1.5 million square kilometres, approximately a third the size of Canada.


On April 1, Nunavut officially becomes a new territory of Canada.

Following negotiations in the 1970s between the federal government and Inuit Tapirisat of Canada (now called the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami), a majority of residents in the Northwest Territories voted, in April 1982, in favour of the creation of a new territory. After a long series of land claim negotiations, an agreement was reached with the federal government in 1992. By 1999, the creation of the new territory of Nunavut was complete. Nunavut is geographically the largest of all of Canada's provinces and territories, and is the first revision to the Canadian map since Newfoundland and Labrador joined Confederation in 1949.

Illustration: Natural Resources Canada

Pop Culture

Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web inventor


The CERN publicizes the new World Wide Web project.

In 1982 the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) released the ARPANET, the earliest computer network. In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist working at CERN — the European Organisation for Nuclear Research — proposed creating a network of sites that were searchable using Hypertext Transfer Protocols (http) which allowed users to share text-based information. The new World Wide Web was launched two years later. After its first year of operation there were only 50 websites in the world.

Photo: 11 July 1994
CERN-European Organization for Nuclear Research

Dolly was successfully bred to a Welsh Mountain Ram, and gave birth to six lambs over her lifetime. Her remains are at the Royal Museum of Scotland.


Dolly the sheep is the first clone of a mammal to survive past infancy.

Scientists at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, Scotland, cloned Dolly from the mammary gland cells of an adult sheep. She was the successful result of 277 tries to clone an animal that would survive until adulthood. Dolly lived until she was six years old, when she died of a progressive lung disease. The cloning of Dolly opened the door to more intensive genetic engineering and modifications, and to concerns about the moral and ethical implications of tampering with nature.

Photo: 1998
Llull, Wikipedia project

The Confederation Bridge


The Confederation Bridge opens, linking Prince Edward Island with the mainland.

At 12.9 kilometres long, the Confederation Bridge is the longest bridge in the world to span ice-covered waters. As demand for access to the Island increased from tourism and trade sectors, ferry services were less and less able to respond. The construction of a bridge allowed direct ground access to the island, and has contributed to an increase in tourism and trade.

Photo: 2008
Strait Crossing Bridge Limited

Visit of Diana Princess of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry to Niagara Falls, Ontario


Two years after Princess Diana's death in 1997, a French judicial investigation concludes that there was no foul play in the car crash that killed her.

Diana died in Paris along with her companion Dodi Fayed, and the driver of the car, Henry Paul. Fayed's bodyguard, Trevor Reese Jones, was the only survivor. Diana's popularity with the media was such that her death caused an unprecedented outpouring of grief. The public reaction to her death was arguably a turning point for the British Royal Family, who were forced to become more open to and aware of public perception.

Photo: 22 May 1987
Niagara Falls Public Library