Canada Day - July 01, 2013
Canada Day is Canada's national holiday. It is a federal holiday celebrated on July 1, annually, by all provincial governments and most businesses across Canada.
Canada Day celebrates the creation of the dominion of Canada through the British North America Act on July 1, 1867, uniting three British territories — the Province of Canada, made up of Canada East and Canada West, and politically united since 1840 (southern Ontario and southern Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick — into a federation, and creating the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Ottawa.
A proclamation was issued by Governor General Charles Stanley Monck, Lord Monck, on June 20, 1868, asking for "all Her Majesty's loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada on July 1."
The holiday was formally established by statute in 1879, and was originally called ''Dominion Day'', making reference to the term "dominion," which was first used to describe a political union within the British Empire for Canada, at a time when the British government was hesitant to adopt the name proposed by the Fathers of Confederation: Kingdom of Canada.
The name was officially changed to ''Canada Day'' on October 27, 1982, largely harking back to the adoption of the earlier Canada Act 1982. However, many Canadians had already been informally referring to the holiday as "Canada Day" for a number of years before the official name change.
On Dominion Day 1923, the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 went into effect. Until the act was repealed in 1947, many Chinese-Canadians referred to July 1 as "Humiliation Day" and refused to celebrate Canada's birthday.
Quebec also has Moving Day on July 1, due to the fact that most leases there begin and end on that day, with many people changing residences. Federalist Quebec residents who oppose the popular sovereignist campaign for an independent Quebec joke that Moving Day is scheduled to ensure Quebecers are too busy moving house to celebrate Canada Day.
Newfoundland and Labrador specific events
In Newfoundland and Labrador, July 1 is recognized as a day of remeberance and sacrifice, and commemorates the Newfoundland Regiment's heavy losses during World War I, at Beaumont Hamel, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Remembrance ceremonies similar to those held on Remembrance Day are held in the morning at Cenotaphs around the province; flags are usually at half-mast (and the atmosphere somewhat more sombre) until noon, when normal Canada Day ceremonies start.
The largest official celebrations are held on Parliament Hill in the capital, Ottawa during the day and in the evening. In the 2006 celebrations, which were somewhat dampened by rain, the attendance was 25,000 for the noon hour show attended by the Governor General and the Prime Minister. A much larger crowd assembled for the evening show and fireworks. That night the Six String Nation Guitar was officially launched by Stephen Fearing with his Canadian folk classic, "The Longest Road".
No official celebrations were held on July 1 from confederation until 1917, the golden anniversary of Confederation, and then none again until ten years later. Beginning in 1958, the Canadian government orchestrated Dominion Day celebrations, usually consisting of Trooping the Colours ceremonies on Parliament Hill in the afternoon and evening, followed by a mass band concert and fireworks display. Into the late 1960s, nationally televised, multi-cultural concerts were added, and the fete became known as "Festival Canada." After 1980, the Canadian government began to promote the celebrating of Dominion Day beyond the national capital, giving grants and aid to cities across the country to help fund local activities.
Since the 1980s, Canada Day is generally marked by patriotic celebrations. Most cities have organized celebrations, with entertainment usually having a Canadian theme, and often featuring fireworks. Canadian flags abound, and some individuals paint their faces in Canadian national colours (red and white). Pancake breakfasts are common as well.
The celebrations in Ottawa are particularly lavish. Every Canada Day, hundreds of thousands gather on Parliament Hill to celebrate Canada's birth. Official celebrations are held throughout the national capital, including in Hull, with the main show taking place on Parliament Hill. This event is normally presided over by the Governor General, though the Queen of Canada, Elizabeth II, attended Canada Day ceremonies in 1990, 1992, and 1997. The Queen had helped celebrate Canada's 100th anniversary on July 1, 1967.
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