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Canada Day

On July 1st, the night sky across Canada will be lit with fireworks as the country celebrates “Canada Day.” The holiday celebrates the history, culture, and achievements of Canada as a country.

Canada Day Graphic


The holiday was first celebrated in 1868 as a remembrance of the creation of the Canadian Dominion. On July 1st, 1867, Canada was created as a Dominion of the United Kingdom. The next year, Governor General Lord Monck signed a proclamation to Queen Victoria requesting that July 1st be named a holiday. It was officially declared as Dominion Day that same year. In 1989, the holiday was renamed to Canada Day.


Even though the holiday existed, celebrations of Canada Day didn’t really start until after the 50thanniversary (in 1917). The government intentionally set out to celebrate the holiday as a means to increase the morale of Canadian soldiers during WWI; for the anniversary, the Parliament buildings were dedicated to the Fathers of the Confederation during a celebration at the capital. Ten years later, on the 60th anniversary, the Peace Tower Carillon was inaugurated.

Peace Tower Carillon


After 1958, the celebration of the holiday was largely standardized. A flag ceremony occurred on Parliament Hill during the afternoon followed by a sunset ceremony, and a concert of military music accompanied by fireworks in the evening. On the 100th anniversary of Canadian Independence (1967), Queen Elizabeth II attended the ceremonies. In 1976, the festivities were not held due to controversies surrounding Canada’s dark history with Indigenous populations. However, the celebrations recommenced the next year, updated to include increased recognition of these communities.

Quen Elizabeth II at Canada Day


Local Celebrations

After 1980, local celebrations of the holiday began to take hold. In fifteen large cities across the country, fireworks and ceremonies became staples of Canada Day. Elsewhere, local communities gathered to reminisce on the history and future of Canada. In 1982, the Canada Act established a new constitution for Canada, making the nation fully independent from the United Kingdom. This sparked an increase in celebrations. Beginning in 2014, the Canadian Heritage group began organizing nationwide events and funding local celebrations.


Now, Canada Day is a common-place celebration across the country. Flag hangings and ceremonies are common in every town. Families and neighbors enjoy consuming a variety of Canadian delicacies (such as poutine and beaver tails). Parades often crowd the streets with the echoes of “O Canada.”

Canadian Flags

Written by Kaleb Houle-Lawrence

University Intern

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