As the US celebrates Independence Day, Canadians have a celebration of their own this weekend. Canada Day (Fête du Canada) celebrates the anniversary of July 1, 1867, when the three independent colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into a single dominion. On that date the British North American Act, known today as the Constitution Act officially confederated Canada. While it was still a subject of the British Empire, Dominion Day as it was originally called (or Le Jour de la Confederation as the French would call it) marked this new beginning. It was renamed to Canada Day in 1982.
Canada Day is called “the birthday of Canada” but differs from the U.S. holiday in that it did not become separate from the British Empire until 1982 when it gained complete independence with the Constitution Act of 1982. And they didn’t have to fight a Revolutionary War. Nevertheless, Canada still enjoys its status in the British Commonwealth as a federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy, with the British Queen as head of state. So they get a Queen and live in the New World, something that American’s envy.
The country is bounded on three sides by oceans, and on the south with a common border with the United States of America, the longest land border between two countries in the world. Many of Canada’s major cities are arranged close to that border, and 4/5 of the population inhabits large and medium-sized cities along that southern border.
Canada is a bilingual society, with the eastern part of the country, especially Quebec, celebrating its own grassroots National Holiday on June 24. However, Canada Day is a federal holiday, with fireworks, parades, the ringing of church bells, the singing of “O, Canada” and the musical ride of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, though these celebrations only became popular since the late 1950s.
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian, eh?