1981 in Canada
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|Years in Canada:||1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984|
|Centuries:||19th century · 20th century · 21st century|
|Decades:||1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s|
|Years:||1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984|
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|History of Canada|
|Year list / Timeline|
Events from the year 1981 in Canada.
Main article: 1981 Canadian incumbents
- Governor general – Edward Schreyer (viceregal consort – Lily Schreyer)
- Prime minister – Pierre Trudeau
- Lieutenant Governor of Alberta – Francis Charles Lynch-Staunton
- Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia – Henry Pybus Bell-Irving
- Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba – Francis Lawrence Jobin (until October 23) then Pearl McGonigal
- Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick – Hédard Robichaud (until December 23) then George Stanley
- Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland – Gordon Arnaud Winter (until July 10) then William Anthony Paddon
- Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia – John Elvin Shaffner
- Lieutenant Governor of Ontario – John Black Aird
- Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island – Joseph Aubin Doiron
- Lieutenant Governor of Quebec – Jean-Pierre Côté
- Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan – Irwin McIntosh
- Premier of Alberta – Peter Lougheed
- Premier of British Columbia – Bill Bennett
- Premier of Manitoba – Sterling Lyon (until November 30) then Howard Pawley
- Premier of New Brunswick – Richard Hatfield
- Premier of Newfoundland – Brian Peckford
- Premier of Nova Scotia – John Buchanan
- Premier of Ontario – Bill Davis
- Premier of Prince Edward Island – Angus MacLean (until November 17) then James Lee
- Premier of Quebec – René Lévesque
- Premier of Saskatchewan – Allan Blakeney
- January 1 - Gasoline and diesel are sold by the litre rather than the gallon.
- February 5 - More than three hundred men are arrested after police sweeps of Toronto bathhouses. The arrests create an outcry among Canada's gay population, and become a historic turning point in Canadian LGBT history. See 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids.
- March 19 - Ontario election: Bill Davis's PCs win a majority
- June 4 - NABET employees at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation hold a long strike, disrupting programming for much of the Spring.
- July 17 – The government of British Columbia named a 2,639-metre (8,658 foot) peak in the Rocky Mountains after Terry Fox.
- July 30 – The 83-kilometre (52 mi) section of the Trans-Canada Highway in Ontario where Terry Fox was forced to end his run, was renamed in his honour
- September 1 - Quebec's French language sign law comes into effect
- September 1 - The Albertan and federal governments sign an energy agreement
- September - The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission holds pay-TV hearings in Hull, Quebec
- October 16 - Canada Post becomes a crown corporation.
- November 5 - Canadian government and all provinces, except Quebec, agree on how to patriate the Canadian Constitution
- November 13 - The Canadarm is first deployed aboard the Space Shuttle
- November 17 - James Lee becomes premier of Prince Edward Island, replacing Angus MacLean
- November 30 - Howard Pawley becomes premier of Manitoba, replacing Sterling Lyon.
Full date unknown
- Power Corporation sells Canada Steamship Lines Inc. to Paul Martin and Laurence Pathy
- News media: NOW created
Arts and literature
- Margaret Atwood - True Stories
- Bill Bissett - Northern Birds in Coulour
- W.O. Mitchell - How I Spent My Summer Holidays
- Gordon R. Dickson - Lost Dorsai
- Nancy Huston - Les Variations Goldberg
- See 1981 Governor General's Awards for a complete list of winners and finalists for those awards.
- Books in Canada First Novel Award: W.D. Valgardson, Gentle Sinners
- Gerald Lampert Award: Elizabeth Allan, The Shored Up House
- Marian Engel Award:
- Pat Lowther Award: M. Travis Lane, Divinations and Short Poems 1973-1978
- Stephen Leacock Award: Gary Lautens, Take My Family...Please!
- Vicky Metcalf Award: Monica Hughes
- David Cronenberg's Scanners is released
- James Cameron's Piranha II: The Spawning, his first directing effort, is released
- Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains is released
- Joy Kogawa's Obasan is released
- March 2 -Edmonton Drillers host Game 1 of the 1980–81 NASL indoor finals at the Northlands Coliseum. They defeat the Chicago Sting 9–6.
- March 5 -Edmonton Drillers win 1980–81 NASL indoor title in Chicago by defeating the Chicago Sting 5–4 in Game 2 of the finals.
- September 26 - Toronto hosts Soccer Bowl '81 at Exhibition Stadium. 36,971 fans witness Chicago defeat New York 1–0 in a shoot-out.
- September 28 - Calgary is awarded the 1988 Winter Olympics.
- January 11 – Jonathan Mandick, rower
- January 15 – Dylan Armstrong, shot putter
- January 16 – Nic Youngblud, water polo player
- January 17 – Julien Cousineau, alpine skier
- January 20 – Owen Hargreaves, soccer player
- January 21 – Dany Heatley, ice hockey player
- February 13 – Kristina Kiss, soccer player
- February 24 – Adam Kunkel, hurdler
- March 14 – Isabelle Pearson, judoka
- April 6 – Auburn Sigurdson, softball player
- April 16 – Matthieu Proulx, football player
- April 19 – Hayden Christensen, actor
- May 20 – Morgan Knabe, swimmer
- June 21 – Kevin Mitchell, water polo player
- July 9 – Kimveer Gill, murderer responsible for the Dawson College shooting (d.2006)
- July 21 – Anabelle Langlois, figure skater
- August 9 – Lauren Bay Regula, softball player
- August 19 – Taylor Pyatt, ice hockey player
- September 7 – Annie Martin, beach volleyball player
- September 26 – Kaila Holtz, softball player
- October 4 – Justin Williams, ice hockey player
- October 25 – Gary Reed, middle distance athlete
- November 20 – Christian Bernier, volleyball player
- January 5 - Lomer Brisson, politician and lawyer (b.1916)
- January 16 - John Oates Bower, politician, businessman and executive (b.1901)
- April 10 - George Carlyle Marler, politician, notary and philatelist (b.1901)
- May 4 - Samuel Rosborough Balcom, politician (b.1888)
- May 23 - David Lewis, lawyer and politician (b.1909)
- May 29 - Walter Russell Shaw, politician and Premier of Prince Edward Island (b.1887)
- June 28 - Terry Fox, humanitarian, athlete and cancer treatment activist (b.1958)
- September 23 - Dan George, actor and author (b.1899)
- November 3 - Thérèse Casgrain, feminist, reformer, politician and Senator (b.1896)
- December 28 - Allan Dwan, film director, producer and screenwriter (b.1885)