Canada Day

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Canada Day
Children watch the Canada Day parade in Montreal, 2004
Also calledFête du Canada
previously named Dominion Day
Observed by Canada
TypeHistorical, cultural, national
CelebrationsFireworks, parades, barbecues, concerts, carnivals, fairs, picnics
Date July 1

Canada Day (French : Fête du Canada) is the national day of Canada. A federal statutory holiday, it celebrates the anniversary of July 1, 1867, the effective date of the Constitution Act, 1867 (then called the British North America Act, 1867), which united the three separate colonies of the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada. [1] [2] Originally called Dominion Day (French : Le Jour de la Confédération), the holiday was renamed in 1982, the year the Canada Act was passed. [3] Canada Day celebrations take place throughout the country, as well as in various locations around the world, attended by Canadians living abroad. [4]

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

National day Designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation

A national day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming a republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler. Often the day is not called "National Day" but serves and can be considered as one. The national day will often be a national holiday. Many countries have more than one national day.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.



Canada Day is often informally referred to as "Canada's birthday", particularly in the popular press. [5] [6] [7] However, the term "birthday" can be seen as an oversimplification, as Canada Day is the anniversary of only one important national milestone on the way to the country's full independence, namely the joining on July 1, 1867, of the colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a wider British federation of four provinces (the colony of Canada being divided into the provinces of Ontario and Quebec upon Confederation). Canada became a "kingdom in its own right" within the British Empire commonly known as the Dominion of Canada. [n 1] [9] [10] [11] [12] Although still a British colony, Canada gained an increased level of political control and governance over its own affairs, the British parliament and Cabinet maintaining political control over certain areas, such as foreign affairs, national defence, and constitutional changes. Canada gradually gained increasing independence over the years, notably with the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, until finally becoming completely independent with the passing of the Constitution Act, 1982 which served to fully patriate the Canadian constitution. [13]

Nova Scotia Province of Canada

Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime Provinces, and one of the four provinces that form Atlantic Canada. Its provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the second-smallest of Canada's ten provinces, with an area of 55,284 square kilometres (21,300 sq mi), including Cape Breton and another 3,800 coastal islands. As of 2016, the population was 923,598. Nova Scotia is Canada's second-most-densely populated province, after Prince Edward Island, with 17.4 inhabitants per square kilometre (45/sq mi).

New Brunswick Province on Canadas east coast

New Brunswick is one of four Atlantic provinces on the east coast of Canada. According to the Constitution of Canada, New Brunswick is the only bilingual province. About two-thirds of the population declare themselves anglophones, and one third francophones. One-third of the population describes themselves as bilingual. Atypically for Canada, only about half of the population lives in urban areas, mostly in Greater Moncton, Greater Saint John and the capital Fredericton.

Ontario Province of Canada

Ontario is a province of Canada. Located in Central Canada, it is Canada's most populous province, with 38.3 percent of the country's population, and is the second-largest province in total area. Ontario is fourth-largest jurisdiction in total area when the territories of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included. It is home to the nation's capital city, Ottawa, and the nation's most populous city, Toronto, which is also Ontario's provincial capital.

Under the federal Holidays Act, [14] Canada Day is observed on July 1, unless that date falls on a Sunday, in which case July 2 is the statutory holiday. Celebratory events will generally still take place on July 1, even though it is not the legal holiday. [15] If it falls on a weekend, businesses normally closed that day usually dedicate the following Monday as a day off. [16]


A crowd in Vancouver celebrates Dominion Day in 1917, the golden jubilee of Confederation. Confederation Day Vancouver 1917.jpg
A crowd in Vancouver celebrates Dominion Day in 1917, the golden jubilee of Confederation.

The enactment of the British North America Act, 1867 (today called the Constitution Act, 1867 ), which confederated Canada, was celebrated on July 1, 1867, with the ringing of the bells at the Cathedral Church of St. James in Toronto and "bonfires, fireworks and illuminations, excursions, military displays and musical and other entertainments", as described in contemporary accounts. [17] On June 20 of the following year, Governor General the Viscount Monck issued a royal proclamation asking for Canadians to celebrate the anniversary of Confederation, [18] However, the holiday was not established statutorily until May 15, 1879, [19] when it was designated as Dominion Day , alluding to the reference in the British North America Act to the country as a dominion. [20] The holiday was initially not dominant in the national calendar; any celebrations were mounted by local communities and the governor general hosted a party at Rideau Hall. [17] No larger celebrations were held until 1917 and then none again for a further decade—the gold and diamond anniversaries of Confederation, respectively. [21]

<i>Constitution Act, 1867</i> Primary constitutional document of Canada

The Constitution Act, 1867 is a major part of Canada's Constitution. The Act created a federal dominion and defines much of the operation of the Government of Canada, including its federal structure, the House of Commons, the Senate, the justice system, and the taxation system. The British North America Acts, including this Act, were renamed in 1982 with the patriation of the Constitution ; however, it is still known by its original name in United Kingdom records. Amendments were also made at this time: section 92A was added, giving provinces greater control over non-renewable natural resources.

Canadian Confederation process by which the British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into one Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867

Canadian Confederation was the process by which the British colonies of the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into one federation, Canada, on July 1, 1867. Upon confederation, the old province of Canada was divided into Ontario and Quebec; along with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the new federation thus comprised four provinces. Over the years since Confederation, Canada has seen numerous territorial changes and expansions, resulting in the current union of ten provinces and three territories.

Cathedral Church of St. James (Toronto) Church in Toronto, Ontario

The Cathedral Church of St. James in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is the home of the oldest congregation in the city, with the parish being established in 1797. The cathedral, with construction beginning in 1850 and opening for services on June 19, 1853, was one of the largest buildings in the city at the time. It was designed by Frederick William Cumberland and is a prime example of Gothic Revival architecture.

In 1946, Philéas Côté, a Quebec member of the House of Commons, introduced a private member's bill to rename Dominion Day as Canada Day. [22] The bill was passed quickly by the lower chamber but was stalled by the Senate, which returned it to the Commons with the recommendation that the holiday be renamed The National Holiday of Canada, an amendment that effectively killed the bill. [23]

Antoine-Philéas Côté was a Liberal party and Independent Liberal member of the House of Commons of Canada. He was born in Métis, Quebec and became an author and journalist by career. He is known for his early attempts to officially establish "O Canada" as the national anthem and to rename the national holiday to Canada Day.

House of Commons of Canada Lower house of the Canadian Parliament

The House of Commons of Canada is the lower chamber of the bicameral Parliament of Canada, along with the sovereign and the Senate of Canada. The House of Commons currently meets in a temporary Commons chamber in the West Block of the parliament buildings on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, while the Centre Block, which houses the traditional Commons chamber, undergoes a ten-year renovation.

A private member's bill in a parliamentary system of government is a bill introduced into a legislature by a legislator who is not acting on behalf of the executive branch. The designation "private member's bill" is used in most Westminster System jurisdictions, in which a "private member" is any member of parliament (MP) who is not a member of the cabinet (executive). Other labels may be used for the concept in other parliamentary systems; for example, the label member's bill is used in the Scottish Parliament and in the New Zealand Parliament. In presidential systems with a separation of the executive from the legislature, the concept does not arise since the executive cannot initiate legislation, and bills are introduced by individual legislators.

Fireworks in Ottawa during Canada Day. Official celebrations at Parliament Hill includes a fireworks display. Ottawa fireworks 49 (27768773120).jpg
Fireworks in Ottawa during Canada Day. Official celebrations at Parliament Hill includes a fireworks display.

Beginning in 1958, the Canadian government began to orchestrate Dominion Day celebrations.[ citation needed ] That year, then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker requested that Secretary of State Ellen Fairclough put together appropriate events, with a budget of $14,000. Parliament was traditionally in session on July 1, but Fairclough persuaded Diefenbaker and the rest of the federal Cabinet to attend. [17] Official celebrations thereafter consisted usually of Trooping the Colour ceremonies on Parliament Hill in the afternoon and evening, followed by a mass band concert and fireworks display. Fairclough, who became Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, later expanded the bills to include performing folk and ethnic groups. The day also became more casual and family oriented. [17] Canada's centennial in 1967 is often seen as an important milestone in the history of Canadian nationalism and in Canada's maturing as a distinct, independent country, after which Dominion Day became more popular with average Canadians. Into the late 1960s, nationally televised, multi-cultural concerts held in Ottawa were added and the fête became known as Festival Canada. After 1980, the Canadian government began to promote celebrating Dominion Day beyond the national capital, giving grants and aid to cities across the country to help fund local activities. [24]

John Diefenbaker 13th Prime Minister of Canada

John George Diefenbaker FRSA was the 13th prime minister of Canada from 1957 to 1963. He was the only Progressive Conservative leader after 1930 and before 1979 to lead the party to an election victory, doing so three times, although only once with a majority of seats in the House of Commons of Canada.

Ellen Fairclough Canadian politician

Ellen Louks Fairclough, was a Canadian politician. A member of the House of Commons of Canada from 1950 to 1963, she was the first woman ever to serve in the Canadian Cabinet.

Some Canadians were, by the early 1980s, informally referring to the holiday as Canada Day, [n 2] a practice that caused some controversy: [30] Proponents argued that the name Dominion Day was a holdover from the colonial era, an argument given some impetus by the patriation of the Canadian constitution in 1982, and others asserted that an alternative was needed as the term does not translate well into French. [25] Conversely, numerous politicians, journalists, and authors, such as Robertson Davies, [31] decried the change at the time and some continue to maintain that it was illegitimate and an unnecessary break with tradition. [25] Others claimed Dominion was widely misunderstood and conservatively inclined commenters saw the change as part of a much larger attempt by Liberals to "re-brand" or re-define Canadian history. [25] [31] [32] Columnist Andrew Cohen called Canada Day a term of "crushing banality" and criticized it as "a renunciation of the past [and] a misreading of history, laden with political correctness and historical ignorance". [33]

The holiday was officially renamed as a result of a private member's bill that was passed through the House of Commons on July 9, 1982, two years after its first reading. [17] Only 12 Members of Parliament were present when the bill was taken up again, eight fewer than the necessary quorum; however, according to parliamentary rules, the quorum is enforceable only at the start of a sitting or when a member calls attention to it. [34] The group passed the bill in five minutes, without debate, [30] inspiring "grumblings about the underhandedness of the process". [17] It met with stronger resistance in the Senate. Ernest Manning argued that the rationale for the change was based on a misperception of the name and George McIlraith did not agree with the manner in which the bill was passed, urging the government to proceed in a more "dignified way". However, the Senate did eventually pass the bill, regardless. [25] With the granting of Royal Assent, the holiday's name was officially changed to Canada Day on October 27, 1982. [35]

Canada Day coincides with Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador, with memorials typically held in the morning of July 1. Newfoundland National War Memorial.jpg
Canada Day coincides with Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador, with memorials typically held in the morning of July 1.

As the anniversary of Confederation, Dominion Day, and later Canada Day, was the date set for a number of important events, such as the first national radio network hookup by the Canadian National Railway (1927); the inauguration of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's cross-country television broadcast, with Governor General Vincent Massey's Dominion Day speech from Parliament Hill (1958); [17] the flooding of the Saint Lawrence Seaway (1958); the first colour television transmission in Canada (1966); the inauguration of the Order of Canada (1967); and the establishment of "O Canada" as the country's national anthem (1980). During the 150th anniversary of Canada in 2017, the Bank of Canada released a commemorative $10 banknote for Canada's sesquicentennial, which was expected to be broadly available by Canada Day. [36] Other events fell on the same day coincidentally, such as the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916—shortly after which Newfoundland recognized July 1 as Memorial Day to commemorate the Newfoundland Regiment's heavy losses during the battle [37] [38] —and the enactment of the Chinese Immigration Act in 1923—leading Chinese-Canadians to refer to July 1 as Humiliation Day and boycott Dominion Day celebrations until the act was repealed in 1947. [39]


Most communities across the country will host organized celebrations for Canada Day, typically outdoor public events, such as parades, carnivals, festivals, barbecues, air and maritime shows, fireworks, and free musical concerts, [40] as well as citizenship ceremonies. [41] [42] There is no standard mode of celebration for Canada Day; Jennifer Welsh, a professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford, said about this: "Canada Day, like the country, is endlessly decentralized. There doesn't seem to be a central recipe for how to celebrate it—chalk it up to the nature of the federation." [43] However, the locus of the celebrations is the national capital, Ottawa, Ontario, where large concerts and cultural displays are held on Parliament Hill in an event largely referred to as the "Noon Show". [44] Typically with the governor general and prime minister officiates, though the monarch or another member of the Royal Family may also attend or take the governor general's place. [n 3] Smaller events are mounted in other parks around the city and in neighbouring Gatineau, Quebec. [50]

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the official Canada Day celebration in Ottawa, 2011 Canada Ottawa William Kate 2011 (2).jpg
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the official Canada Day celebration in Ottawa, 2011

Given the federal nature of the anniversary, celebrating Canada Day can be a cause of friction in the province of Quebec, where the holiday is overshadowed by Quebec's National Holiday, on June 24. [51] For example, the federal government funds Canada Day events at the Old Port of Montreal—an area run by a federal Crown corporation—while the National Holiday parade is a grassroots effort that has been met with pressure to cease, even from federal officials. [52] The nature of the event has also been met with criticism outside of Quebec, such as that given by Ottawa Citizen columnist David Warren, who said in 2007: "The Canada of the government-funded paper flag-waving and painted faces—the 'new' Canada that is celebrated each year on what is now called 'Canada Day'—has nothing controversially Canadian about it. You could wave a different flag, and choose another face paint, and nothing would be lost." [53]

Canada Day also coincides with Quebec's Moving Day, when many fixed-lease apartment rental terms expire. The bill changing the province's moving day from May 1 to July 1 was introduced by a federalist member of the Quebec National Assembly, Jérôme Choquette, in 1973, [54] in order not to affect children still in school in the month of May. [55]

International celebrations

Trafalgar Square during Canada Day in London, England, 2013 Canada Day London 2013.jpg
Trafalgar Square during Canada Day in London, England, 2013

Canadian expatriates will often organize Canada Day activities in their local area on or near the date of the holiday. [56] Examples include Canada D'eh, an annual celebration that takes place on June 30 in Hong Kong, at Lan Kwai Fong , where an estimated attendance of 12,000 was reported in 2008; Canadian Forces' events on bases in Afghanistan; [57] [58] [59] at Trafalgar Square outside Canada House in London, England; [60] [61] in Mexico, at the Royal Canadian Legion in Chapala, [62] and at the Canadian Club in Ajijic. [63] In China, Canada Day celebrations are held at the Bund Beach by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai [64] and at Canadian International School in Beijing by Canada China Business Council. [65]

See also


  1. Canadian representatives had actually requested the title Kingdom of Canada be granted, to "fix the monarchical basis of the constitution", but the idea was vetoed by the British Foreign Secretary at the time, the Lord Stanley, and the title Dominion was used in its place. [8] See Name of Canada > Adoption of Dominion.
  2. Numerous references to Canada Day may be found in issues of The Globe and Mail published in the late 1970s. [25] [26] [27] [28] [29]
  3. Queen Elizabeth II was present for the official Canada Day ceremonies in Ottawa during Canada's centennial in 1967; [21] [45] as well as 1973, [45] 1990, [45] 1992, [45] 1997, [46] and 2010, [47] when more than 100,000 people attended the ceremonies on Parliament Hill. [48] [49] Prince William and his wife took part in the events in Ottawa for Canada Day, 2011, [48] the first time a member of the Royal Family other than the monarch and her consort had done so. Several members have also attended Canada Day ceremonies outside of Ottawa, including Charles, Prince of Wales, attending celebrations in Edmonton in 1983. [45] Charles later attended official Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa as a part of 150th anniversary of Canada in 2017. [45]

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