Head of state (monarch) – Queen Elizabeth II (consort – Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh)
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
Commissioner of Yukon – Douglas Bell
Commissioner of Northwest Territories – John Havelock Parker
Premier of the Northwest Territories – George Braden
Premier of Yukon – Chris Pearson
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.
Power Corporation sells Canada Steamship Lines Inc. to Paul Martin and Laurence Pathy.
News media: NOW created.
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 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)
1981 in Canada Wikipedia
Events from the year 1981 in Canada.