A Brief Look at Canada Day History

Right now, my friends and family to the south of me are planning for their Fourth of July weekend.  We’re doing something similar up here in Canada, except for us, it’s Canada Day and it’s on July 1.  When I moved up here, about all that I knew about Canada Day history is that it’s basically the Canadian equivalent of the Fourth of July.  So many of their holidays overlap or are within a week of American ones that I didn’t give it much thought beyond that.  But I want to homeschool Norton, and he’s Canadian.  He needs to understand Canada Day history.

While Independence Day is to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence (and is symbolic of the United States beginning to be a country of their own after a bloody war), Canada Day history is entirely different.  On July 1, 1867, Queen Victoria signed a law to unite the three territories of North American (Canada – which was comprised of Ontario and Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick) to into an independent country known as the Dominion of Canada.  At that time, July 1 became known as “Dominion Day.”   Canada was no longer a territory of Great Britain, but since it was still officially ruled by the Queen, it was a Kingdom in its own right.  (In fact, Queen Elizabeth II’s titles include Queen of Canada.)

It wasn’t until the 1960’s that Canada was officially and truly separated from the British Empire.  However, the Queen is still our head of state.775209_canadian_flag

In terms of traditional Canada Day activities, it’s not that different from what Americans do for Independence Day three days later.  It’s filled with outdoor events like barbeques and fireworks.  Picnics are in abundance, and there are usually activities at various parks.  And of course, just like the American long weekend, it’s a popular time for family camping trips.  Of course, when as much of the country is preserved into national and provincial parks as Canada is, it only makes sense that we’d have an abundance of family camping trips that weekend.  There’s a ton of nearly untouched wilderness to camp out in.

Our Canada Day activities are going to be a little different than the norm, of course.  I don’t camp in spite of how much I do enjoy the great outdoors and the mildness of a Canadian summer.  (My idea of roughing it is staying in a standard hotel room with a queen size bed.)

Instead, I’ve got my eye on a Canada Day event of our own.  How do you celebrate Canada Day?

Originally written for another website on June 29, 2011.

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. Thank you for this … I’ve never understood the Queen thing in Canada and when I’ve asked, people kind of just shrug their shoulders and say it’s a “Canada Thing”. I appreciate knowing what Canada Day is and why it is. Happy Canada Day to you and your family! 🙂
    Small Footprints recently posted…My Vegan Life – Picnics, Grilling, and the 4th of JulyMy Profile

  2. Thanks for the info! I’ve just recently been noticing that a lot of countries declared independence in July….today marks the anniversary of when Columbia declared independence!

  3. Thanks for sharing. I never knew the origins of Canada day or how it is celebrated. It is actually really interesting. Thanks!

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