The Origin of Canada Day

The origin of Canada Day began with the creation of Canada's federal government. Current festivities include many of the same type of celebrations as the American July 4th Independence Day celebration.

Dominion Day
The British North America Act (BNA) established the government in 1867, and what we know of as "Canada Day" began as "Dominion Day" in 1879. It was called Dominion Day because of a clause in the BNA Act which proclaimed Canada "one Dominion under the name of Canada." At this time, Canada became divided into two provinces, Ottawa and Quebec.

At first, Dominion Day was not officially celebrated. An exception took place in 1917, when Dominion Day was celebrated to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Confederation. Not until the 1950s did Canada begin regular observances of Dominion Day. The holiday gave Canadians a day off work, and different provinces celebrated the day in different ways.

Canada Day in Modern Times
Canada began adding televised concerts on Parliament Hill in 1968. They became known as Festival Canada at that time. In 1981, fireworks became a part of many local celebrations of the day. Then, in 1982, the holiday was officially renamed to Canada Day in order to make it sound more like what it was, a celebration for Canada.

Entertainment, parades, flag waving, family picnics, fireworks, food and music are the usual activities; however, many local celebrations do variations of these activities. Some Canadian critics say that the celebration has become separate from the original intent, but it's usually regarded as a day to celebrate being Canadian.

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