Being new to this area of collecting, I am having both a fun and a frustrating time trying to date Canadian puzzles. There are a number of ways I am trying to date puzzles:
Duh. The best means. Fairly straight forward but have to be careful it's not the copyright of the image versus the copyright of the puzzle. I've not found any examples of that yet but I am sure I will. As an example on American puzzles; the Peanut characters have different copyright dates based on their poses. Snoopy dancing or as ace on top of doghouse have set copyright dates (in 1960's) and you'll see those dates on American puzzles even if the puzzle was made in 2002.
- Handwritten Notes
"Done. December 1945".
On one hand there is no reason to trust handwritten notes but on the other hand why would anyone lie? Besides the handwritten notes adds character and history to the puzzle.
- Two Versions
Many Canadian manufacturers bought the rights to use images from other puzzle lines. A general assumption is that they used the images around the time that image was used by the original source. So if I can find out the original source publication date then I'll assume the Canadian version is in the same time frame. Unfortunately some images were used year after year so in some cases this method is not useful.
- Bilingual English/French
Although under the BNA Act Canada was a bicultural (English/French) nation, for much of the country's history, English was the dominant language. To give credit to some manufacturers they did produce bilingual materials early on but that was uncommon. In 1969 the Bicultural and Bilingual Act became law and from this point forward most products in Canada became bilingual. So if French is prominent on a puzzle we can assume it is normally post 1969. (See section on Somerville logo for a very obvious example contrary to this.)
- Postal Codes
If the manufacture states a postal code then the puzzle is after April 1, 1971 when the federal legislation came into effect creating postal codes.
If there is any metric on the box then it is almost certainly after 1975 when the metric system came into effect. One major complication is that implementation was a slow process with various milestones being reached over a decade. Then in 1984 a Conservative government was elected who allowed for both metric and imperical systems to be used and eliminated compulsory compliance. Thus Canada straddles both systems without any clear direction. A second possible complication may be that puzzles targeted for overseas (& possibly Quebec) might have been metric before 1975. I will clarify this if I find an actual example. I've seen a few that have had metric but look older than 1975.
- Gut Reaction
When there is nothing else to go on, I'll assign a general time period based on intuition based on a variety of factors such as the image, the quality of the box construction or the simplicity of design.
Chronology of Canadian
I may have led you to this section falsely at this time. My knowledge of the chronology is too weak for hardly any discussion but I will add what I know. This section will improve as I can more information:
9999 Sommerville main Canadian puzzle manufacturer
1971? Sommerville merged with/bought out Belkin
9999 Copps Clark buys out Summerville
1984 Canada Games starts
9999 Canada Games buys out Copps Clark
1987 Canada Games manufactures some licenses for Waddington-Saunders
1992 Canada Games buys some licenses from Waddington-Saunders
1997 Canada Games goes out of business
1998 Playtoy buys some licenses from Canada Games
1998 Playtoy goes into receivership
2000 Wrebbit introduces non-3D puzzles
Note: I thought this was an interesting sequence of box ends showing the transition from Waddington to Canada Games to Playtoy.
1987 True North series, Waddington-Saunders
1987 True North Series, Waddington-Saunders/Canada Games
1992 True North Series, Canada Games
1998 True North Series, Playtoy