A Brief History of Canada Day

On July 1st, 1867, the British North America Act was passed by the British Parliament, creating the Dominion of Canada.
On June 20th, 1868, our first Governor General, Lord Monck, signed a proclamation requesting that all Her Majesty’s subjects designate July 1st as a day to celebrate the anniversary of Confederation. The celebration was made an official national statutory holiday in 1879. It became known as Dominion Day.
The 50th anniversary of Confederation (1917) saw Canada at War. The conflict in Europe gave new impetus to the celebrations and a new status to the still fledgling nation. 1917 also saw the re-construction of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa—after the great fire of 1916—which were dedicated to the Fathers of Confederation and to the brave Canadians who served during the First World War.
The Parliament Buildings were still under construction ten years later at the 60th anniversary. On July 1st, 1927, the Peace Tower Carillon was inaugurated, and the Governor General of the day, Viscount Wellington, personally laid the cornerstone of what is now the Confederation Building.
As Canada moved into her second century, celebrations became more elaborate and diverse. Large multi-cultural celebrations were presented on Parliament Hill and broadcast to the nation.
In 1982 the British Parliament passed the Canada Act, giving Canada the power to control its own constitution. To celebrate this landmark event, on October 27th, 1982, Dominion Day officially became Canada Day.
By the 1980’s, celebrations had taken on a more local flavour as the national committee tasked with planning festivities began to plan and finance events across the country, not just in the capital region. These included the tradition of fireworks lighting up the night sky in 15 major Canadian cities which continues to this day.
Royalty has often been on hand to celebrate Canada Day. Our Centennial celebrations included the participation of Her Majesty the Queen. Her Majesty and Prince Philip took part in 2010 as well. As did their Royal Highnesses Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011 and HRH Charles, Prince of Whales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in 2017. The Royals have always had a special place in their hearts for Canada and in the hearts of Canadians.
This July 1st marks 155 years since confederation and 154 years since the first time this holiday was celebrated by Canadians.
There are those who believe Canada should curtail or boycott celebrations this year to focus on some of the darker chapters of our history, or because they disagree with the current government. I disagree. I do not believe our national holidays are an appropriate vehicle for virtue signaling.
Canada Day shouldn’t be political or politicized.
Canada Day is a national holiday when we celebrate who we are as a nation; past, present, and future.
Every country has chapters of its history that its citizens are not proud of, but our history is our history—the good and the bad. It’s part of who we are. We celebrate the good and we learn from the bad.
My office deals with hundreds of new Canadians every year. They didn’t choose to come to Canada because they were ashamed of it or wanted to feel morally superior. No, they came here because Canada is a beacon of hope that offered them and their children a chance for a better life.
The reality is, even during the most difficult times and circumstances, ours is a land of plenty.
A land where we enjoy peace and prosperity.
A land of freedom and opportunity.
As your Member of Parliament, I’m working hard to ensure that’s the country we pass on to the next generation.
This July 1st I hope everyone will take a moment to pause and reflect on all that God has blessed us with, in this land we love.
Happy Canada Day, Provencher!