In 1844, French Canadian settler Benjamin Gervais moved north from Saint Paul to claim land in order to build the first grist mill in Minnesota that was independent from the government. Today, the large lake on the east side of Little Canada bears his name (Lake Gervais). The grist mill was converted into a park, which is recognized as the birthplace of the city. Little Canada began as the township of New Canada in 1858. In the 1950s the township was threatened by the suburban sprawl of the ensuing larger communities that were formed, such as Maplewood. In 1953, the city leaders came together and established the village of Little Canada. It became a city in 1974.
Little Canada's police department received media attention in January 2013 after they apparently illegally confiscated a video camera that was being used to record public police activities. They later charged the individual with two misdemeanors for allegedly violating the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), a charge that at least one expert concluded was "nonsense." Little Canada does not have a police department. The controversy involved the Ramsey County sheriff's office.
The city is not shy about its Canadian heritage. For instance, its official symbol is an initial LC on a white fleur-de-lis with a red Maple Leaf background, and the Flag of Canada is displayed in council chambers.