Every year Canadians celebrate Canada Day, or la fête du Canada, on July 1. But not everyone is aware of the interesting history behind the name of this national holiday.
As early as 1868, Canadians were encouraged to begin celebrating the anniversary of Confederation. But the day did not become a statutory holiday until 1879, when it was officially proclaimed Dominion Day.
Celebrations got off to a slow start, however. Many Canadians still felt a strong connection to the British Empire. Patriotic feeling focused on Victoria Day, observed in Canada since 1845, and Empire Day, the school day just before May 24. The first organized celebration of Dominion Day didn’t occur until 1917, the 50th anniversary of Canada’s founding. The second was held ten years later, on the Diamond Jubilee.
By 1980, however, Canadian patriotism had come into its own. Dominion Day celebrations were occurring in cities across the nation. And the patriotic song “O Canada,” written a century before, at last became our official national anthem.
Two years later, in 1982, events occurred that marked a milestone for Canadians. With the passing of the Constitution Act, Canada became an entirely independent nation. That same year, Dominion Day was officially renamed Canada Day.Canadians everywhere take time to celebrate this aptly named holiday. Indeed, this Canada Day, we have a lot to celebrate!