Canada Day, also known as the First of July or July First, was originally proclaimed as Dominion Day. It is only one of two federally mandated holidays that occur on a specific date rather than on a Monday. If July 1st falls on a Sunday, however, the holiday is celebrated on Monday.
The following is a list of some interesting information about Canada and Canada Day:
- Canada’s name is derived from the Huron-Iroquoian word “kanata” or village.
- Canada’s independence as a sovereign nation is due to the proclamations of two Queens: the first, Queen Victoria, who signed the act making Canada a “Dominion” (1867) and the last, her great granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, who signed the act making Canada a free and independent state in 1982.
- Royals have been frequent visitors to Canada since its inception. Some of whom have actually lived in Canada serving as Governors General (most notably Queen Victoria’s son Prince Arthur, The Duke of Connaught, who was the 10th Governor General since the confederation). Others were visiting military, the first being Prince William in 1786. Five of Queen Victoria’s children have either lived in or visited Canada.
July 1st is a date for many Canadian anniversaries in addition to the founding of the original confederation on July 1st, 1867, including the following:
- Swearing in and knighting of John McDonald as the first Prime Minister of Canada and appointing Lord Monck as the first Governor General by Queen Victoria (1867);
- Formal declaration of July 1st as “Dominion Day” (1868);
- Entrance of Prince Edward Island (PEI) to the confederation (1873);
- Dedication of the new center block of Parliament to the founding fathers of the confederacy and to the troops serving in Europe (1917);
- Laying of the cornerstone of the Confederation Building and inauguration of the Carillion in the Peace Tower in1927, allowing for coast to coast radio broadcasts. This event was attended by two of Queen Victoria’s grandsons: the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VIII and his brother the Duke of Kent, later to become King George VI;
- The first formal celebrations of Dominion Day in front of the Parliament Buildings (1958). Prior to that time, there were no formal ceremonies.
- The first CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) coast to coast television broadcast (1958) and subsequent first color broadcast (1966);
- Inauguration of the Order of Canada (the highest civilian award in Canada) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (1967);
- Establishment of “Oh Canada” as the national anthem and changing the name “Dominion Day” to “Canada Day” (1982);
- Signing of the Canada Act making Canada an independent nation (1982).
- Queen Elizabeth II was the second reigning monarch to visit Canada, the first were her parents (King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, later Queen mother) in 1939 just prior to World War II. She has visited Canada 22 times beginning when she was Princess Elizabeth in1951. Her last visit was in 2005. She has attended a number of July 1st ceremonies – 1967 (the Centennial), 1990, 1992 and 1997
Other interesting facts about Canada
Canada stretches five thousand miles from the east to the west coast but has only one trans-Canada highway (Highway 1). At one time the easiest way to reach the west coast from the east was by the Trans Canadian railway system (completed in 1885) taking one week to traverse from Toronto to Victoria. Prior to that time travel across Canada was by horse, ox cart and boat taking about 3 months.
The Hudson’s Bay Company established forts or trading posts on major rivers in the Northwest Territories to receive the fur pelts by trappers and to receive goods and supplies in return. Transport was primarily by canoe. The Hudson’s Bay Company wass the sole proprietor of the Northwest Territories until 1870 when it turned over its control of the North West Territories to the government of Canada in1870.
The border between Canada and the United States is the longest unprotected border in the world.
Canada is a confederation of 10 provinces and 3 territories, the main difference being that provinces receive their power and authority from the crown while territories are under the jurisdiction of the Federal government.
The first four provinces to form the confederation (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario) were created on July 1st, 1867. Three more provinces were admitted in rapid succession: Manitoba (1870); British Columbia (1871); and, Prince Edward Island (PEI) on July 1st 1873. Alberta and Saskatchewan were formally separated from the Northwest Territories and were admitted in 1905. Newfoundland and Labrador (a Dominion of the British Commonwealth) was the last of the provinces to be admitted to the confederacy (1949) The Yukon was also created from the Northwest Territories in 1898. Nunavut, Canada’s newest province, was also created from the NWT. In 1999.
CBC radio and television acknowledge Canada’s multicultural roots by broadcasting their programs in English, French and Inuktitut.
Canada’s nationalism is reflected in her symbols. The Beaver appeared early on coins and coats of arms reflecting the fur trade that gave rise to the initial impetus for exploration and settlements, by both France and England. The maple leaf on the national flag, coinage, and coats of arms reflects the Maple Tree as a source of maple sugar and building materials so necessary to the early colonists. Every province has its own tartan reflecting Canada’s early Gaelic settlers. Each Province and Territory has its own flag reflecting its unique origins.
2008 was the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City.