There is a special day that is sacred to every Canadian 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.
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.
Canada Day (Fête du Canada) – July 1st
(until 1982 it was known as Dominion Day – Le Jour de la Conférération)
After reading this guide why not head on over to Wikipedia where you can find a more comprehensive guide explaining this special day.
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.
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.
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 Holiday.
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
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 to 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?
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
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