Michael Bryan

Written by Michael Bryan

Modified & Updated: 09 Sep 2023

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Canada Day, People celebrating with fireworks

It’s not uncommon for a Canadian to remember 1st July with barbeques, warm weather, and fireworks. On the 1st of July every year, Canada celebrates Canada Day. This holiday is more than just food, friends, or visiting relatives. It’s about honoring the country’s Confederation that started more than 150 years now. Here are the 40 facts about Canada Day you have to know.

  1. Canada Day is celebrated every 1st July.
  2. Canada Day was first celebrated on July 1, 1867.
  3. The passing of the Constitution Act, 1867 also occurred on July 1, 1867. It is one of the most important constitutions in Canada.
  4. In 1982, or more than 100 years later after the holiday’s first celebration, Dominion Day became Canada Day.
  5. Patriated by the Canada Act 1982, Dominion Day became Canada Day since the political process changed to full Canadian sovereignty.
  1. Canada Day is the national day of Canada.
  2. This day marks the nationhood of Canada.
  3. Fête du Canada is the French term of Canada Day.
  4. Canada Day is a federal statutory holiday, also known as the ‘public holiday, stats, or stat holidays.’
  5. Some of the major holidays in the country after Canada Day is Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Labour Day, and Boxing Day.
  6. Canada Day is widely celebrated throughout Canada and globally appreciated.
  7. This holiday type is historical, cultural, and national.
  8. This once in a year event is celebrated and honored with parades, fireworks, concerts, fairs, carnivals,  barbecues, and picnics.
  9. All government offices close during this day as well as other services including beer and liquor stores.
  10. Most grocery stores, drug stores, and tourist spots are open during Canada Day.
  1. Dominion Day was Canada Day’s original name.
  2. The French term for Canada’s Dominion Day is ‘Le Jour de la Confédération.’
  3. Canada Day honors the anniversary of the Canadian confederation. It is the process in which the major places in Canada joined together.
  4. Many people regard Canada Day as “Canada’s birthday.” This term is very popular with the media.
  5. Canadians who lived abroad also celebrate Canada Day in several locations around the world.
Table of Contents

British and French explored North America during the 15th century.

Around the 15th century, the British and French expeditions explored, colonized, and battled across numerous places within North America in what constitutes present-day Canada. To cut down France’s economic power worldwide, British troops concentrated their forces on French overseas outposts such as Canada.

Canada Day is an extraordinary national milestone.

Canada Day is the annual ceremony that celebrates an extraordinary national milestone on the path to Canada’s full independence. This milestone also united the colonies of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia into a wider British federation. These four provinces later became a “kingdom in its own right” within the British Empire or the Dominion of Canada.

Canada was still a British colony during the late 1800s.

In 1867, the country was still a British colony. But nevertheless, Canada attained more political control and governance over its own “inner circle.” Meanwhile, the Cabinet and the British parliament maintained political control in other areas including its national defense, constitutional changes, and foreign affairs.

Canada steadily acquired more and more independence after 1876.

Over several decades since the late 1800s, Canada steadily acquired more and more independence. That independence grew even more due to the passage of the Statute of Westminster (an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom) in 1931. Canada soon became completely independent with the passing of the Constitution Act, 1982. This was when Dominion Day became Canada Day.

Canada Day can happen on 2nd July.

Although the National Day of Canada occurs as a statutory holiday every 1st July, if the holiday falls on a weekend, it will legally transpire on July 2nd. Nonetheless, events will usually continue to take place on 1st July, in spite that it’s not a legal holiday.

The three British colonies became Canada.

In an overview, Canada Day honors and rejoices the anniversary of the Constitution Act (signed on July 1, 1867). Furthermore, it remembers the day the three British colonies of the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united to form a single country.

Initially, most Canadians did not widely celebrate Dominion Day.

Initially, most Canadians did not widely celebrate nor didn’t really care that much about Dominion Day as they still view themselves to be British. All of these have changed after renaming Dominion Day to Canada Day 100 years later. The change of name became a subject of debate because the people wanted to continue using ‘Dominion Day’ as the name of the holiday though it was ‘Canada Day’ that prevailed in the end.

The Royal Family continues its appreciation for Canada Day.

queen elizabeth ii
Source: Unsplash

Queen Elizabeth II has visited the country numerous times to celebrate this holiday. Even the royal couple, Prince William and Catherine Middleton have visited Canada’s regions in 2011 as well as celebrating Canada Day there.

Quebec's Moving Day also falls on 1st July.

Interestingly, Moving Day falls on the same day as Canada Day. Moving Day is a tradition practised in Quebec. This tradition came about from the 18th century where the province used to mandate fixed terms for the leases of rented properties. Moving Day used to fall on 1st May, until the government decided to change the date to 1st July due to the unstable weather in May. July became the better choice as it was during summer.

On Moving Day, logistic companies are extremely busy serving countless Canadians in Quebec—in Montreal for instance, 55% of its people own a house making it the lowest in all major Canadian cities. Described as “a kind of moving madness,” logistic companies work non stop in this season, (charges often being twice to thrice the normal rate) and has inspired many entrepreneurs to make a business out of it. Friends are usually looped in to assist with the moving, thus making Moving Day more like a community bonding event.

"O Canada" became the official national anthem on July 1, 1980.

The national anthem of the country, “O Canada” became the official national anthem on 1st July or the same date as Canada Day. Proclaimed in the year 1980, Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, Théodore Robitaille originally commissioned “O Canada” for the 1880 Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony. The song has a pleasant and peaceful hymn that will make even a non-Canadian adore it—truly one of the best national anthems in the world.

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It's not uncommon to celebrate Canada Day with beer.

Group of woman celebrating and drinking beer
Image from Adobe Stock

In contrast to the closure of liquor stores during Canada Day, according to a report, Canadians love to gulp beer privately and socially on this holiday coming from their “reserved liquors.” Based on estimates, more than 500 thousand liters of beer are consumed over the country’s birthday. Canada ranks number 32 in the world with most beer consumption, approximately 55.7 liters per capita.

Churches, military, and civilians joined the first Confederation.

Known today as Constitution Act, 1867 or the British North America Act, 1867’s enactment confederated the country for the first time on July 1, 1867. The Cathedral Church of St. James (the Anglican cathedral in Downtown Toronto) started ringing its bells on that day to honor the historic event including military displays, excursions, bonfires, fireworks, musicals entertainment, and other treats.

A royal proclamation helped more Canadians celebrate the Confederation.

On June 20, 1868, Viscount Monck, the last Governor-General of the Province of Canada, approved a royal proclamation that reached more Canadians to celebrate the anniversary of Confederation. And as many generations go by, Canada Day slowly but surely started to get more popular inside and outside of the country.

Compared to this day, the holiday was not as "big" initially.

Dominion Day was not a statutory holiday in the beginning. Since its first celebration in 1867, it took more than 10 years or until May 15, 1879, when it was designated as a statutory holiday and fully recognized the country as a whole. From its commission until the mid-1900s, Dominion Day was not largely popular and was simply viewed as a “simple holiday.” Arguably, the holiday became more popular upon renaming it from Dominion Day to Canada Day.

Philéas Côté first introduced the renaming of Dominion Day in 1946.

Antoine-Philéas Côté was a Liberal party and Independent Liberal member of the House of Commons of Canada. He introduced a private member’s bill to rename Dominion Day as Canada Day in the year 1946. Immediately submitted by the lower chamber, the Senate did not like the idea. Instead, it recommended the name to be “The National Holiday of Canada” which was eventually disapproved.

The Canadian government joined the "party" in 1958.

The Canadian government started to organize Dominion Day celebrations in 1958. Canada’s Prime Minister that year, John Diefenbaker asked the Secretary of State, Ellen Fairclough to organize a relevant event plus a fund of $14,000.

The Canadian centennial happened in 1967.

Regarded as a very important milestone in the country’s history, the Canadian centennial in 1967 portrays the maturing distinctiveness of Canada as an independent country. This event sparked every Canadian to participate in Dominion Day every year.

It was first seen on national television in the 1960s.

During the 60s, media and national television featured Dominion Day including its cultural concerts which made it even more special. Around the 1980s, the Canadian government introduced Canada’s celebration of Dominion Day beyond the national capital, giving gifts and assistance to numerous cities across Canada as well as helping to fund their local activities.

Many Canadians were already calling the holiday Canada Day before 1982.

The renaming of Dominion Day to Canada Day occurred in 1982. But interestingly, many Canadians were already calling the holiday Canada Day. That practice resulted in some controversies thus the other party wants to continue Dominion Day while others believed that the word Dominion was widely misunderstood. Influential people such as politicians, authors, and journalists did not want the change as they felt that it would break the tradition, respectively. Interesting Canada Day facts!

"It's about the Canadian's freedom, rights, and responsibilities."

canada, flag
Source: Unsplash

Currently cherished around the world more than ever regardless of its name, most communities across Canada host and organizes this event to celebrate the Canadian’s freedom, rights, and responsibilities.

“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” – Former Prime Minister of Canada, John Diefenbaker

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