The History of Canada Day | Refresh Financial

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The History of Canada Day

Canada Day

Canada Day is celebrated each year across Canada with enthusiasm and noise. No matter where you are in the country, you know you can find a massive party boasting Canadian bands, Canadian beers and fireworks to commemorate the founding of our beloved country.

Canada Day has been celebrated since the signing of the British North American Act in 1867, but back then, there were no mountains packs, and there certainly wasn’t any Tragically Hip.

The first celebration, in 1867, saw the ringing of the bells at the Cathedral Church of St. James in Toronto. Canadians celebrated afterwards with music, displays of military might, much drinking and fireworks. You might think our first Canada Day would look a little different from the way we celebrate it now, but no, Canadians are a consistent bunch, if nothing else. It seems we have always loved our pyrotechnics, our flowing ale, and our good old Canadian tunes.

From 1867 until 1879, the holiday was not officially established, but Canadians celebrated our confederation anyway, to satisfy the wishes of Governor General the Viscount Monck. By royal proclamation, he made sure Canucks knew it was, indeed, party time.

In 1879, the holiday finally became a statutory one, with the name Dominion Day. It was still pretty relaxed, with each community holding their own celebrations. Nothing overly official, although there was a party held at Rideau Hall every year to commemorate the event.

In 1946, an attempt was made to rename the holiday, Canada Day, but it failed as the bill got passed back and forth between the House of Commons and the Senate. It remained Dominion Day.

In the many years that followed, celebrations always seemed to include military displays, such as Trooping the Colour ceremonies, where soldiers would march between the troops with their regiment’s colours. The displays would always be followed up with music, fireworks, dance and food, exactly like we do it now.

During this era, the music you’d find at a Canada Day celebration would likely be military music, and flag ceremonies would always be held in Ottawa.

In 1967, Canada’s centennial anniversary, Dominion Day celebrations began to be televised and huge official celebrations held in Ottawa each year. They were massive cultural shows with music and sporting demonstrations and relied upon the cooperation of a great many communities across Canada. The very same year, Chief Dan George of the Coast Salish nations stood in front of a crowd at Empire Stadium in Vancouver, and criticized the confederation of Canada, expressing sadness for the losses his people had suffered through the founding of this country.

By 1980, many Canadians began referring to the holiday as Canada Day, and the Federal government commenced funding celebrations in smaller communities across the country. Parades in towns from coast to coast became the norm, as Canadian kids decorated their bikes to ride along with the floats. Festivals and concerts dotted our nation, East and West, and the statutory holiday had become a day Canadians all looked forward to.

In 1982, the holiday was finally and officially renamed Canada Day, and while some people still protest it, the vast majority of us recognize this day as such. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find a Canadian city or municipality that isn’t lighting up the sky every July 1st, while kids who just spent the day eating cotton candy and riding the Tilt-O-Whirl, look on. A true Canada Day celebration will remind you of the many ways in which we are lucky to live here: great food, beautiful scenery, amazing people, rocking music and a wild, rugged, carefree sense of fun that can’t be matched.

How do you celebrate Canada Day? Let us know in the comments!

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