What Is Canada Day All About?

By | July 1, 2017

There is a special day that is sacred to Canadians all over the world. And that day is Canada Day which is celebrated on July 1st. 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of this special day. But what is this day all about and what is the story behind it? Please read on and I will explain it to you.

Canada Day

O Why Am I Discussing Canada Day?

Before I do explain all about this day I just want to explain why this post is featured on a genealogy website. You may have been wondering the answer to this question.

To start off with I love genealogy. I love researching my ancestry and exploring my rich family history. I also love finding out the origins to special days like this.

They are a connection to our past. They link us to our ancestors. Days such as Canada Day must have had some impact on their lives, even if it was for one day of the year.

Nowadays many people may not know the significance of these holidays that are special to us. So let me explain it to you.

Special Date:

Canada Day (Fête du Canada) – July 1st

(until 1982 it was known as Dominion Day – Le Jour de la Conférération)

Credit:   Ancestry


The Story Behind Canada Day

Prior to 1867 Canada was controlled by Great Britain. But that all changed on July 1st of that year when it became a self-governing dominion. Since that date Canada has grown from its initial four provinces to now ten with also three territories as well.

Story Behind Canada Day

Dominions if you are unsure were semi-independent polities under the British Crown. These constituted the British Empire and Canada was the first of these dominions and is part of the Commonwealth.

Today Canada is still a dominion of Britain has experienced an increase level of independence, becoming totally independent in 1982. But the British government do have some say when it comes to constitutional changes, foreign affairs and national defence.

The Dominion of Canada!

The British North Americas Act in 1867, (known as the Constitituion Act), created the Dominon of Canada. This dominion originally consisted of the four provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. This collection of provinces was thus known as a federation.

They were created from the former British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada which was divided into Ontario and Quebec.

The Canadian Governor General, the viscount Monck, on June 20th 1868 proclaimed that July 1st should be celebrated each year. It was not until the following year in 1869 that Canadians celebrated this anniversary of the confederation.

It was only on the 50th anniversary of this special day in 1917 that there were any special celebrations. This though changed after the Second World War when more events were organized.

Up until 1982 July 1st was known as Dominion Day. A member’s bill was passed in the House of Commons of that year. Surprisingly the bill was passed with only 12 Members of Parliamnent present and within five minutes with no objection or debate. However, there was some resistance to this bill in the Senate, and to this day people still do object to this change.

The name was thus changed by Royal Assent on October 27th 1982 and from 1983 onwards the public have known this day as Canada Day, or Canada’s birthday as well. People at the time did object to this change in name as it broke with tradition. But there were arguments that ‘the name Dominion Day was a holdover from the colonial era‘.

It has also been referred to as Moving Day in Quebec as leases start on July 1st. You can therefore expect to see many people moving home on this day.


What Can You Do On Canada Day?

As Canada Day marks the anniversary of modern day Canada it has become a statutory holiday. However, if this date falls on a Sunday then it is moved to July 2nd.

What To Do On Canada Day?

You will expect to see many businesses and post offices to be closed on this day. But there will be some open which can include book stores, gas stores and pharmacies as well.

You can expect though to see public transport to be running. Depending on your area these may operate on their usual or to a reduced timetable.

As celebrations will be held in major towns and cities you will see many roads closed. So if you do plan to travel on this day please be prepared that you may have to take an alternative route.

So what are these events?

Canada Day occurs during the summer so there will be many events held outdoors. There are air and maritime shows, barbecues, musical concerts, parades, carnivals and festivals. And during the evening there will be fireworks as well.

Parliament Hill in Canada’s capital Ottawa sees huge celebrations where the country’s Prime Minister attends. Occasionally a member, or two, of the British Royal Family will also attend these festivities. 2017 will see Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla.

Canadians love their pancakes and many people will start their day having them for their breakfast.

Similar to Australia Day new Canadians will take part in citizen ceremonies all over the country.

You will see the colors of Canada, red and white, everywhere on this special day. Flags will be flown from buildings, in gardens, on clothing and also on people’s faces as well.

Controversy in Quebec?!

The Canada Day celebrations in Quebec seem to be overshadowed by the province’s National Holiday that is held on June 24th. There is a parade held for this special day which has gained support over the years from the public.

However, this grassroots effort has experienced resistance, even being asked to cease by federal officials. Even the Canadian public outside of this province have expressed their views on Quebec’s National Holdiay.

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador

July 1st is also a somber day for people living in the eastern province of Newfoundland and Labrador. This day for them is known as Memorial Day as they commemorate soldiers who died during the Battle of the Somme in 1917.

The Newfoundland Regiment suffered heavy casualties on the first day of this battle. Because of this you will see flags being flown at half-mast. There will be many memorial services held at cenotaphs around the province.

Later in the day though celebrations are held, similar to the rest of the country.

London and Hong Kong also celebrates Canada Day as well!

As I mentioned earlier Canadians celebrate Canada Day all over the world in their own special way. There are events held at Trafalgar Square in England. These celebrations have been held since 2016.

Known as Canada D’eh in Hong Kong this day is held annually on July 30th. There was even an estimated 12,000 people who attended the event in 2008.


My Final Thoughts on Canada Day

So there you have it, the history of Canada Day, a day that is very special in the hearts of all Canadians. Even though I am not Canadian I am glad that it is celebrated all over the world.

We should all celebrate days that are special for us and that is why I have featured this day on this genealogy site. I also love reading and learning about the origin of days such as Canada Day.

I wonder how your ancestors once celebrated this day. So how do you celebrate this day? I would love for you to comment below.

If you are Canadian then why not not take this time and remember your ancestors? Why not research your family tree and connect with them?

==> Start Your Canadian Genealogy Research Today! <==

You will find many useful guides and tips on this website which can help you start to research your genealogy. And you can pick up tips and tricks even if you have already began your family history journey.


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this post explaining what Canada Day is all about. If you think that this post will be helpful to others then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Author: Owain

Hello, Owain here. After researching my family history for a number of years I wanted to give back to the genealogy world. So here you will find guides, tips and product reviews that will help you on your genealogy journey.

10 thoughts on “What Is Canada Day All About?

  1. Judith

    Hello Owain: I am a Canuck! A few things you might like to know. We officially got our own flag in 1965, up until then we flew the Union Jack (UK). In 1967, when Canada turned 100, each elementary school child received a sapling spruce tree. Mine is enormous and fills the back yard where I grew up.
    The French people who settled Quebec, came BEFORE the French Revolution. As a result, they did not feel loyalty or connected to the France of Post French Revolution. Because of this they feel they are unique to the globe, and that is part of the reason why they feel motivated to separate from Canada. Not all Quebecers, but the ones that want to go call themselves Separatists

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      I didn’t know about those facts Judith so thank you for sharing. I didn’t know that it wasn’t until quite recently that you had your own flag.

      Do you know if you have any French ancestors. I have a few family stories of an ancestor who is said to have escaped the French Revolution as a child with his brothers. Unfortunately is parents were not so fortunate and were executed.

      Reply
  2. Helen Vella

    Great insight into what Canada day is all about. I was unaware of these facts and now I know. Your explanation is very clear and insightful and I appreciate your research.
    I am British although I live in Florida now and always like to keep up with history.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      I am glad that you liked it Helen. Even though I am not Canadian I still love history and being knowledgable about the world around me.

      I also feel it is important for people to know about their country’s past and the origin of their holidays. The true meaning of holidays these days seem to be lost, mainly due to commercialism.

      Reply
  3. Kevin Bulmer

    Hi Owain!
    Well now, this one hits close to home, eh? I’m proud to be in Canada and happy to see more and more citizens taking pride in our country. This past Canada Day weekend brought many extra celebrations, marking the 150th year of the country. Funny – 150 years is not much compared to many other parts of the world, but it’s not about how long you’ve been around – it’s about who you are. Canada is truly becoming a culturally diverse playground of people from all over the world. Long may it be so.
    Best wishes, eh?
    Kevin

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Hi Kevin,

      Glad you got to spend your time in Canada on this special day. You’re right that 150 doesn’t seem that long although European did settle in Canada as early as the 16th century.

      It’s great to hear that Canada is becoming a diverse country. It’s becoming quite like that in Australia as well.

      Reply
  4. Hazel

    This is really enlightening. One of my sisters-in-law is Canadian so this was good to read. I like how you connect this type of holiday to genealogy. I would never have thought to connect the two, but it really does make sense. These kind of holidays and the traditions that come with them make up a large part of who we are and the culture we identify with.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thanks Hazel. I included this day, (and all the others), for two reasons. Firstly, I love history and learning the origin of days like this.

      I also wonder how our ancestors celebrated days like this. How did these days affect our ancestors and have they changed and have views changed over time?

      Reply
  5. Luna

    You have done an excellent job with the history of your country. I have lived in Canada for 2 years but did not know anything about the History. Great Britain had controlled so many countries. Jamaica was under British Government until August 6, 1962, when they became independent.
    I now have a better understanding of the History of Canada. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      You’re welcome Luna, although Canada is not my country. I do though learning about the origin of days like this for countries all over the world. And I also love sharing what I have found with everyone on my genealogy site. I am glad that you liked it and were educated by it.

      Reply

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