What is Canada Day?

Canadian citizens can expect to have an exciting, fun-filled and –for some — long weekend to celebrate Canada Day.

Similar to Independence Day in the United States, Canada Day is a federal statutory holiday that commemorates the 1867 unification of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province Canada, which divided into Ontario and Quebec, into a federation of four provinces. Each year, citizens throughout Canada celebrate with parades, fireworks, concerts, festivals, carnivals and many other activities. Even Canadian expatriates take time to celebrate their nation’s “birthday.”

Originally known as Dominion Day, Canada Day didn’t become a statutory holiday until 1879. Unlike their southern neighbours, Canadians thought of themselves as more British than Canadian, so it wasn’t until 1917, when the Confederation turned 50, that they engaged in any celebrations. Phinéas Côté, a Québec member of the House of Commons, came up with the idea of changing the name from Dominion Day to Canada Day in 1946. The idea met with enough resistance to complete squash Côté’s proposed bill. Not until the 1980s did another House of Commons member propose the name change. It passed without debate.

Because July 1, 2012, falls on a Sunday, some Canadian citizens will get Monday, July 2, off from work. Queen Elizabeth attended official Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa in 1967, to celebrate the Confederation’s 100th anniversary, then again in 1990, 1992, 1997 and 2010. In 2011, the newly married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended.

To learn more about Canada Day 2012 events, visit http://www.canadaday.canadaplace.ca/.