I'm trying to frame and label the Ages for Canadian comics history. Hopefully others will contribute their thoughts and ideas. A major resource on the subject is John Bell's work in Invaders from the North (Dundurn, 2006) and Beyond the Funnies. Here, I have used some of his dates and designations.
The focus here is on English comics--while similar developments occurred in French Canada, I haven't attempted to include those. I've also given more attention to some periods in Canadian comics history than other periods.
THE GOLDEN AGE--1941 - 1947: As a consequence of World War II trade restrictions with the United States and in the absence of American comics north of the 49th parallel, a home-grown industry flourishes, with Canadian publishers like Maple Leaf in Vancouver, Bell and Anglo-American in Toronto.
THE BRANCH PLANT AGE--1948 - 1956: New post-war restrictions allow foreign publishers into the Canadian market, but they must go through the national publishers to get their comics into Canada--including publishers like Superior and Bell. At the same time an anti-crime public investigation will lead to greater restrictions on comics and inspire the same south of the border.
THE PUBLIC SERVICE AGE--1957 - 1966: The restrictions that prevented American comics coming directly into Canada disappear, allowing the American product to dominate the market completely; however, Canadian comics survive in the form of giveaways from government and corporations, mainly intended for public education purposes. The two major publishers to package these giveaways are Ganes Productions in Toronto and Comic Book World in Halifax.
THE UNDERGROUND AGE--1967 - 1974: With the domination of American comics in above ground publishing, the 60s counter-culture gives rise to many underground publications. The Georgia Straight newspaper in Vancouver, Logos newspaper in Montreal, Gronk magazine in Toronto, and others become venues for these "comix." Comic books like SFU Comix, Snore Comix, The Collected Adventures of Harold Hedd, etc. are published and distributed in the underground market.
THE SILVER AGE--1975 - 1988: Beginning with the short lived Orb magazine, Canadian comics enter the mainstream (more or less). Almost at the same time as Orb in Toronto, Captain Canuck is published in Winnipeg and both reach national distribution, but also quickly die out--a symptom of the Silver Age as publishers struggle to produce and distribute their product. Captain Canuck will return a few years later (with a new publisher in Calgary). In 1977, Dave Sim's Cerebus the Aardvark is published in Kitchener--as many small press comics surface throughout the country, although unlike them Sim's publication will eventually survive and thrive. By the early 80s, other publications like Reid Fleming World's Toughest Milkman and Neil the Horse Comics and Stories join Captain Canuck and Cerebus to make an impression on the comics market in Canada and beyond its borders. However, by 1988 this Canadian comics boom has gone bust.
THE INDEPENDENT AGE--1989 - ???*: With the bust, many Canadian creators who hadn't already given their services to the American publishers now found work there. Meanwhile, the growth of independents in the U.S sparked the same thing in Canada. The magazine Drawn and Quarterly offered a home for these independent creators (including international contributors) and in turn spun off other books by these creators, establishing Canada as a major centre for sophisticated comics entertainment outside the mainstream.
*I'm open to suggestions when and if the Independent Age ended in Canada and what if any age followed that.