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Overview of Canada Day

Canada Day is celebrated to commemorate the joining of all the British provinces into one unified federation on July 1st 1869.  The day is a national holiday and celebrated throughout Canada.


History and Origin of Dominion Day

In order to bring all of the separate British Provinces within North America together and to form a little bit of cohesiveness, the English Government created the British North American Act to create a Dominion of Canada under rule of the British government.  The two people most responsible for pushing this through were the Governor General, Lord Monck and Sir John A. MacDonald, the Prime Minister of Canada.  The Act was signed on June 20, 1868 and became effective on July 1 of that year.


The Act combined three Canadian Provinces: (1) Province of Canada (comprising today’s southern region of Ontario and Quebec), (2) New Brunswick and (3) Nova Scotia.  Not all of modern Canada was included in this Act.  The other provinces and territories became part of Canada as follows:

  • 1870: Manitoba and Northwest Territories

  • 1871: British Columbia

  • 1873: Prince Edward Island

  • 1898: Yukon Territory

  • 1905: Alberta

  • 1905: Saskatchewan

  • 1949: Newfoundland

  • 1999: Nunavut


Most Canadians celebrated this event and about ten years later, in 1879, the Canadian Parliament, by statute, created a national holiday to remember the events of the previous year.  The holiday was then called Dominion Day because the provinces became confederated as the Dominion of Canada.


Through the years, the Canadian people appreciated, but rarely celebrated the holiday.  It was not until almost fifty years after its inception, did people and municipalities organize larger ceremonies and festivities.  In fact, the first organized celebration after its first anniversary may not have been until 1917, when the confederation was honored during the 50th Anniversary celebration. Canada’s southern neighbor, the United States celebrates its Independence Day with much more fanfare than in Canada, but that may be because the formation of their country was born through war, while Canada enjoyed a peaceful evolution.


During the 60th anniversary of the confederation event there were festivities and celebrations, including the dedication of the Governor General of the Confederation Building (laying the cornerstone) and the inauguration of the Carillon in the Peace Tower.


The holiday was made an annual observance in 1958 by the Canadian Government.  Annual celebratory events included a Trooping of the Colours ceremony at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, bands playing and fireworks.  In 1967, Queen Elizabeth II attended the Centennial celebration and the Canadian government went all out to make the celebrations memorable.


The celebrations became larger each year. The usual concerts of bands playing traditional music began to allow multicultural musical acts to join in.  The ceremonies at Parliament Hill became nationally televised and took on a more national feel.


In 1980, the National Committee (formed by Parliament to review the celebrations of July 1st) pushed an agenda to have the celebrations spread across all the provinces of Canada.  They even donated “seed money” to groups willing to sponsor these local July 1st events. This idea of spreading out the celebrations seemed to have worked and it was expanded in 1981 to include firework displays to be shown in fifteen cities across Canada.


The History and Origin of Canada Day

The plan of spreading out the celebrations was bringing out feelings of national pride. In 1982 (Oct. 27th), the Canadian Parliament officially renamed Dominion Day and called it Canada Day (Fête du Canada in French). The holiday was to remain as July 1st – unless it falls out on a Sunday, then it is celebrated on the following day. [Interesting Note: The name “Canada” comes from the Iroquois Indians who referred to the Stadacona settlement located around modern day Quebec City as “Kanata” which is translated to mean “village” in English.


In Newfoundland and Labrador they also celebrate Memorial Day on July 1st in commemoration of the heavy losses to Newfoundland troops during World War I.  Not all Canadians are happy with the holiday. Some still prefer to call it Dominion Day, and the Quebec provincial governments under the Parti Québécois do not celebrate the holiday at all.


Canada Day Committees were established (in 1985) in each Province of Canada to organize each year’s Canada Day events and celebrations.


Celebrating Canada Day

Today, Canada Day is celebrated by most people around Canada.  The celebration includes Barbeques, Picnics, Parades, Musical Concerts and Fireworks.  Canadians also display the Canadian flag prominently on this day.  The day has also become known as “Moving Day” in Quebec since it seems that a large number of people move to new homes during this holiday weekend.


Coming soon


Canada Day Websites

Canada Day ( Canada Day articles & resources.

Canada Day ( Overview of the Canada Day holiday.

Canada Day ( Various stories on the celebration of Canada Day.

Canada Day ( Canada’s Employment Standards Act, 2000

Canada Day ( Information, Crafts and activities for kids relating to Canada Day.

Canada Day (PCH.GC.CA): Background and history of the Canada Day celebration.

Canada Day Checklist ( “Things you need to know to celebrate Canada Day.”

Celebrate Canada Day ( Canada Information, activities, crafts and ideas.

Canada Day ( Information and origin of Canada Day.

Happy Canada Day ( Information, recipes, greetings and many more items for helping to celebrate Canada Day.


Canada Day Songs

Canada Day Songs (


Canada Day Recipes

2005 Canada Day Chicken Challenge (

Canada Day BBQ Favorites from Coast to Coast (

Canada Day: Canadian Recipes (

Canada Day Cookies (

Canada Day Drink Recipes (

Canada Day Recipes (

Canada Flag Cake (

Canadian Recipes (

Celebrate Canada! Recipes (

Canada Day Games, Crafts and Activities

CandaDayCrafts ( “Try these free Canada Day craft patterns and projects. Use many creative techniques and supplies to make a variety of holiday crafts related to Canada Day.”

Canada Day Crafts ( Instructions on how to make many items for Canada Day.

Canada Day Online Games ( Quizzes, Games and virtual activities relating to Canada and Canada Day.

Canadian Activities and Crafts ( “Canadian Crafts for kids. Kindergarten, preschool, and elementary school crafts.  Make wonderful, simple crafts with things found around the house.”

Canadian Coloring Pages ( Lots of stuff to color with a Canadian or Canada Day theme.

Canadian Themed Activities ( All kinds of crafts and activities for kids on Canada Day.

Print and Do ( Coloring pages, word search puzzles and more.


Canada Day Multimedia

Canada Clip Art (

Canada Day: Backgrounds, Borders, Images and Flags (

Canada Day Cards (

Canada Day Greetings (

Canada Day Postcard (

Canada Day Wallpapers (

Canada Day Wallpapers (

Canadian Themed Clip Art (

Downloads for PC (



Gift Baskets for Canada Day

Celebration Box with Sparkling Wine Gift Basket



Food & Drink for Canada Day



Celebration Box with Sparkling Wine Gift Basket


Flowers for Canada Day

Post-Holiday Sale  125x125    

Books for Canada Day


Alberta icon


Moon Handbooks Alberta icon


High Days and Holidays in Canada icon



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O Canada

(written by Calixa Lavallée in 1880)

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

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Last modified: March 20, 2012

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