Facts About Canada Day – The End of Colonial Rule
- On 1st July 1867, the British Parliament created Canada as a self-governing Federation comprising the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. In 1870 the other provinces were handed over to the British crown by the Hudson’s Bay Company, which owned a million and a half square miles of northern and western Canada known as Rupert’s land. The British parliament then incorporated this area into the newly formed Dominion of Canada.
- Great Britain granted autonomy to Canada on most of its affairs, but it was not until 1982 that an Act was passed severing Canada’s ties with the British Parliament and giving it the right to amend its constitution. However, Canada’s supreme political authority lies with Queen of Great Britain and her government.
- This historic day was renamed as Canada Day in 1982, before which it was known as Dominion Day. In Newfoundland and Labrador, it coincides with Memorial Day to commemorate soldiers who died in the First World War. In Quebec it is called “moving day” since many home leases start on 1st July when hundreds of citizens relocate to new accommodation.
- In 1879, July 1st was declared as a statutory holiday to mark the birth of Canada as a nation. But there were no official celebrations till 1917, the 50th anniversary of the dominion of Canada. The next celebration was only 10 years later in 1927. From 1958, the government began organising celebrations every year.
- Canada Day is celebrated all across the country with flag hoisting, parades, concerts, shows, fireworks, faces painted red and white and much more. It is sometimes even celebrated in London at Trafalgar Square!
- Celebrations in Ottawa, the Canadian capital, attract people from all over the country and are particularly exuberant. Thousands gather on Parliament Hill dressed in red and white, which are the colours of the Canadian flag. Flags are hoisted; ceremonies follow with shows and fireworks. The festivities last all day till night when fireworks are displayed. Another site which must be visited is Major’s Hill Park, where cultural activities take place. Here children, particularly, are entertained by games, inflatable slides and live performances.
- In Montreal the mood is equally upbeat. New Canadians are sworn in after which the Canadian military band supervises the hoisting of the Canadian flag. A twenty-one gun salute is followed by a traditional cake for the new Canadians and others with them. There is much to amuse children: from games to even getting their faces painted to resemble cats, pirates, lions, butterflies and anything else they fancy.
- The province of Nunavut, in northwest Canada, split from the Northern Territories and joined Canada on the 9th of July 1993. “Canada Day” is not as important there as “Nunavut Day” on 9th July. Nunavut celebrates by having communal meals, a pancake breakfast, and barbecues. Speeches are made by local leaders adding political colour to the celebrations. Citizens participate in traditional games and dances. Competitions are held to encourage younger people to know the history and culture of Nunavut.
- This year citizens of Calgary will celebrate the 30th birthday of
of Harry the Horse, the official mascot of the Calgary Stampede. Activities are planned at Olympic Plaza and include stage entertainment, interactive displays, and a birthday cake for the first 3000 visitors. This event is sponsored by the Calgary Stampede. The city of Calgary will offer the “First Nations Powwow” this year. This event is presented by Bow Valley College’s Iniikokaan Aboriginal Centre. Prince’s Island Park comes alive with the heartbeat of Canada’s First Nations peoples as they showcase Aboriginal peoples’ ways through storytelling, drumming and dancing. At Festival Market, a fantastic array of Canadian bands will entertain you on the River Front Stage, followed by a fantastic display of fireworks.
- Almost every country has a national day to celebrate their release from colonial rule. But not Great Britain – unless you call the June celebrations for the Queen’s birthday a national day.
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