What Exactly Is Canada Day?

Happy Canada Day! On July 1, 1867, the nation was officially born when the Constitution Act joined three provinces into one country: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Canada province, which then split into Ontario and Quebec. However, Canada was not completely independent of England until 1982. The holiday called Dominion Day was officially established in 1879, but it wasn't observed by many Canadians, who considered themselves to be British citizens. Dominion Day started to catch on when the 50th anniversary of the confederation rolled around in 1917. In 1946, a bill was put forth to rename Dominion Day, but arguments in the House of Commons over what to call the holiday stalled the bill.

The 100th anniversary in 1967 saw the growth of the spirit of Canadian patriotism and Dominion Day celebrations really began to take off. Although quite a few Canadians already called the holiday Canada Day (Fête du Canada), the new name wasn't formally adopted until October of 1982. Image by Martin C. Barry.

What's a patriotic celebration without a parade? There will be parades held in cities, towns, and villages all over Canada today. Flickr user Antony Pranata captured images of the Canada Day parade in Richmond, British Columbia in 2008.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have an established group called the RCMP Musical Ride. These 32 officers, who are rotated after three years service, perform equestrian drills for the public throughout Canada. Flickr user Nikki Tate caught the Musical Ride performing in Ottawa on Canada Day in 2007, and posted a set of great photographs.

Other Canada Day traditions that are gaining footholds are picnics, festivals, sporting events, and fireworks.

Many Canada Day events are planned all over the country, including Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, and Victoria. Image by Bruce Stotesbury/Times Colonist.

The lyrics to "O Canada" can be found here. Hear the French version as well.

Memorize those lyrics, because this year there are beer fridges that only open for those who know all the words.

For more information, visit the official Canada Day website.

Portions of this article originally appeared in 2010.

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July 1, 2014 - 12:00am
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