Happy Birthday, Canada!

June 27th, 2013 by Dan Allan

The British colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Province of Canada (which contained what is now Ontario and Quebec) combined to form the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.

The anniversary of this date was first celebrated on July 1, 1879 on a holiday called Dominion Day. Dominion Day was not celebrated again until Canada’s 50th anniversary on July 1, 1917.

Dominion Day was renamed in 1982, and the holiday has since been known as Canada Day.


An initial attempt to rename Dominion Day was made in 1946 in a private member’s bill introduced by Liberal MP Antoine-Philéas Côté. The bill was passed by the House of Commons but stalled by the Senate, who suggested that the holiday be called “The National Holiday of Canada.”

The federal government has celebrated Canada’s “birthday” annually since 1958.  This has always included an afternoon ceremony on Parliament Hill and a concert and fireworks in the evening. The events began being nationally televised in 1968. Click here for information on this year’s events in Ottawa.

Queen Elizabeth II visited for Canada’s Centennial in 1967, and again in 2010. Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, attended Canada Day ceremonies in Ottawa in 2011.

Several noteworthy events have occurred on Canada Day throughout Canadian history:

  • The Canadian National Railway completed the first national radio hookup on July 1, 1927.
  • The CBC held their first cross-country television broadcast on July 1, 1958.
  • The first color television transmission in Canada was broadcast on July 1, 1966.
  • The Order of Canada was inaugurated on July 1, 1967.
  • “O Canada” was named the official Canadian national anthem on July 1, 1980.

Looking for something to do on Canada Day? We’ve compiled a list of “unconventional” Canada Day events in communities across Canada and around the world.

July 1 also marks the beginning of the first ever Canada History Week. Created the Department of Canadian Heritage, the week will promote Canadian history and encourage Canadians to get actively involved in their past.

Visit the Department of Canadian Heritage website for more information on Canada Day.


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