Crown corporations of Canada

Canadian Crown corporations are enterprises owned by the federal government of Canada (the Queen in Right of Canada[1]), one of Canada's provincial governments (the Queen in right of a province) or one of the territorial governments. Crown corporations have a long standing presence in the country and have been instrumental in the formation of the state. They are involved in everything from the distribution, use, and price of certain goods and services to energy development, resource extraction, public transportation, cultural promotion, and property management.



In Canada, Crown corporations, within either the federal or provincial sphere, are technically owned and operated by the monarch, as the institution's sole shareholder; this follows the legal premise that the Crown, as an institution, owns all the property of state. In practice, however, most Crown corporations operate at arm's length from the government, with direct government control only being exerted over the corporation's budget and the appointment of its chairperson and directors through Orders in Council.


The earliest Crown corporations in Canada date to early European settlement by Scotland, England and France. Much of the colonial territory was de facto settled and governed by the appointed managers of the corporations, often themselves called Governors. The first colonies on the island of Newfoundland were founded in this manner, between 1610 and 1728.

Perhaps Canada's most famous, and influential, Crown corporation was the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), founded on May 2, 1670, by Royal Charter of King Charles II (although HBC is not, and never has been, government owned). The HBC became the world's largest land owner, at one point overseeing 7,770,000 km2 (3,000,000 sq mi),[2] territories that today incorporate the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, as well as Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon. The HBC thus often being the point of first contact between the colonial government and First Nations. By the late 19th century, however, the HBC lost its monopoly over Rupert's Land and became a fully privatised company. During the earlier part of the century, many British North American colonies that now comprise the Canadian federation had Crown corporations, often in the form of railways, such as the Nova Scotia Railway, since there was limited private capital available for such endeavours.

At the same time as the HBC was declining in influence and power, other Crown corporations were growing in its place. One of the most significant of that era was the Canadian National Railway (CNR), which spawned Air Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Via Rail, and Marine Atlantic. Today, Canada Post Corporation is an example of a functional department being realigned into a Crown corporation, while the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada are modern examples of Crown corporations.

The importance of Crown corporations in the economy has declined in recent years, as a number of significant privatizations have occurred, particularly at the federal level. The heyday of government use of Crown corporations was the period from Confederation (the Intercolonial Railway being the first federal Crown corporation) through 1988 (the privatization of Air Canada).

List of Canadian Crown corporations




British Columbia


New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Nova Scotia





Privatized ex-Crown corporations

Several private Canadian companies were once Crown corporations, including:

See also


  1. ^ Canada Development Investment Corporation (2008), Annual Report 2008, Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, p. 13,, retrieved 21 April 2010, "Canada Development Investment Corporation... is wholly-owned by Her Majesty in Right of Canada" 
  2. ^ Galbraith, John S. (1957). The Hudson's Bay Company As An Imperial Factor 1821-1869. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 

External links

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