Canada Day (July 1): History, Significance, Celebrations and Facts

Canada Day is a holiday celebrated on July 1. If it falls on a Sunday, it is moved to July 2, except in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland and Labrador. All provincial governments observe this day. Many organizations, businesses, and stores are closed, although some book stores, pharmacies, and gas stations may be open. Post offices are closed. As Canada Day falls in the Canadian summer holiday period, all schools are closed.

Public transport services may operate to their usual or a reduced timetable. In some areas, extra services are provided for large-scale events. Street closures due to concerts, parades, and festivals may cause some local disruption to traffic.

Canada Day: History

On July 1, 1867, the British North Americas Act created the Dominion of Canada as a federation of four provinces. This event is known as the confederation of Canada. The four original provinces were created from the former British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada, which was divided into the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. Canada's boundaries have been extended since 1867. The country now consists of 10 provinces and three territories.

Canada Day (July 1): History, Significance, Celebrations and Facts
Photo: CYB

On June 20, 1868, the Canada's Governor General proclaimed that Canadians should celebrate the anniversary of the confederation. July 1 became a holiday, known as Dominion Day, in 1879. However, no official celebrations were held until the 50th anniversary in 1917 and the 60th anniversary in 1927. After World War II, Dominion Day was celebrated more frequently and more events were organized by the national government. After the centenary of the confederation in 1967, Dominion Day events became more widespread. July 1 became popularly known as Canada Day. The date was also officially known as Canada Day from 1983 onwards.

Since 2006 Canada Day celebrations were also held at London's Trafalgar Square in the United Kingdom. It is expected that these celebrations will be held annually. Depending on the availability of Trafalgar Square, these events may be held just before, on or just after July 1.

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Canada Day: Symbols

Canada's national flag is seen on Canada Day. This consists of two vertical red rectangles separated by a white square. The white square contains a red image of a maple leaf. Canada’s national colors are red and white and are used in many ways on Canada Day. Some people wear red and white clothing and others paint their faces in these colors.

Canada Day: Timeline

July 1, 1917: The 50th anniversary of Confederation. The Parliament buildings, under construction, are dedicated to the Fathers of Confederation and to the courage of Canadians who fought in Europe during the First World War.

July 1, 1927: The 60th anniversary of Confederation. The Peace Tower Carillon is inaugurated. The Governor-General at the time, Viscount Willingdon, lays the cornerstone of the Confederation Building on Wellington Street.

From 1958 to 1968: The government organizes celebrations for Canada's national holiday every year. The Secretary of State of Canada is responsible for coordinating these activities. A typical format includes a flag ceremony in the afternoon on the lawns of Parliament Hill and a sunset ceremony in the evenings, followed by a concert of military music and fireworks.

July 1, 1967: The 100th anniversary of Confederation. Parliament Hill is the backdrop for a high-profile ceremony, which includes the participation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

From 1968 to 1979: (with the exception of 1976): A large multicultural celebration is presented on Parliament Hill. This concert is broadcast on television across the country. The main celebrations (called "Festival Canada") are held in the National Capital Region throughout the month of July. These celebrations include many cultural, artistic and sport activities and involve the participation of various municipalities and volunteer associations.

From 1980 to 1983: A new format is developed. In addition to the festivities on Parliament Hill, the national committee (the group tasked by the federal government to plan the festivities for Canada's national holiday) starts to encourage and financially support the establishment of local celebrations across Canada. Start-up funding is provided to support popular activities and performances organized by volunteer groups in hundreds of communities. Interested organizations can make a request to the Celebrate Canada program.

1981: Fireworks light up the sky in 15 major Canadian cities, a tradition that continues today.

1984: The National Capital Commission (NCC) is given the mandate to organize Canada Day festivities in the capital.

2010: Festivities on Parliament Hill receive a royal treatment when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh join the festivities to celebrate Canada's 143rd anniversary.

2011: Their Royal Highnesses Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, participate in Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill on the occasion of Canada's 144th anniversary.

2014: Canadian Heritage organizes the 147th Canada Day celebrations. As we approach Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017, the government has given the Department the mandate to organize Canada Day festivities in the capital.

2017: A wide range of activities from coast-to-coast-to-coast are held to mark the 150th Anniversary of Confederation. Attending Canada Day for the first time, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall join in the festivities on Parliament Hill to mark this milestone anniversary with Canadians.

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Canada Day: Celebrations

There were many ways in which Canada Day is celebrated but the first tradition that is observed is a parade. There are parades held in cities, towns, and villages all over Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have an established group called the RCMP Musical Ride who performs equestrian drills for the public throughout Canada.

Canada Day (July 1): History, Significance, Celebrations and Facts
Photo: CTV News

Other Canada Day traditions are quickly picking up are picnics, festivals, sporting events, and fireworks. Many more events are observed throughout the country. The major events in celebration of Canada Day are held in Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, and Victoria.

This year Canada Day will be celebrated virtually where people will witness virtual fireworks. Two shows will also be hosted in celebration of Canada Day. The Canada Day Daytime Show will offer virtual tour for celebrations across the country and the Canada Day Evening Show is a special edition of Canada’s annual iconic celebration. The virtual show will feature performances from various Canadian artists.

Interesting facts about Canada

1. Canada is the largest country in the Western hemisphere and the second-largest country in the world after Russia and borders only one country, the United States of America.

2. Canada has the longest coastline in the world with 202,080 km/ 125,567 miles.

3. Three Canadian islands are among the top ten biggest islands in the world. They are Baffin Islands (more than double the size of Great Britain), Victoria Island, and Ellesmere Island (both are roughly the size of England).

4. More than half of all the lakes in the world are located in Canada! The country counts more than 3 million lakes and 31,700 big lakes with an area of over 300 hectares. Canada also includes two of the biggest lakes in the world: Great Bear Lake and Great Slave Lake.

5. Toronto is Canada's largest metropole with over 6 million people. Montreal, Canada's second-largest city with over 4 million inhabitants, is also the second-largest city in the world that has a French-speaking population - after Paris in France.

6. Nine out of ten Canadians live in the US - Canada border region which includes the area up to 160 km/ 99 miles from the US - Canada border.

7. The Bay of Fundi in eastern Canada has the highest tides in the world. The waves there are more than 13 m/ 42 ft high.

8. Jasper Nationalpark in the Rocky Mountains spans over several vegetation zones.

9. Canada's biggest bay is Hudson Bay which was discovered in 1610 by English explorer Henry Hudson. Hudson Bay is located in Eastern Canada and is frozen from about mid-December and mid-June every year.

10. Nunavut territory in Northern Canada was only created in 1999 and is home to the Inuit population. Did you know that the number plate for cars, motorbikes, and snowmobiles in the Northern State of Nunavut is the shape of a polar bear?

11. Canada's longest river is the McKenzie River in the North West. The river is 4,241 km/ 2,635 miles long.

12. The highest mountain in Canada is Mount Logan with 5,959 m/ 19,551 ft. Mount Logan is located in the Yukon Territory at the border with Alaska/USA.

13. About 38 million people live in Canada. Almost 82% of all Canadian live in urban areas. Life expectancy at birth is about 83 years. There are 26 doctors per 10,000 people in Canada.

13. The Literacy Rate is 99%, so almost all Canadians can read and write.

14. About 1.4 Million Canadians refer to themselves as belonging to the indigenous or Aboriginal people, among them First Nation people, Metis, and Inuits. Did you know, that 21 June is celebrated as 'National Aboriginal Day in Canada? This is a day of celebration for Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

15. Canada is a popular country for immigration. The country is said to have the largest population growth of the industrialized countries (G-7).

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