Celebrating national holidays while visiting any country can only add to one's overall travel experience or vacation. In fact, as a tourist or avid wanderluster, joining in the local festivities for a national holiday is a quick and easy way to learn more about your destination while simultaneously having a blast. One such holiday to check out while visiting the stunning landscape that is Canada, especially if you find yourself in Toronto, Ottawa, or Quebec, is none other than Canada Day. A yearly celebration that dates back over 150 years, Canada Day festivities often don't disappoint and offer something for the whole family. That said, here are eight interesting facts for any future Canada Day attendees.
8 Canada Day Wasn’t Always Called Canada Day
So much is in a name, right? It may shock many people to know that Canada Day was not always known as such. It actually was not until well after 1982, i.e., 100 years after the very first celebration, that Dominion Day was officially re-branded as Canada Day. Declaring July 1st, 1867, as Dominion Day originally made sense to lawmakers because the four colonies that made up the Canadian Confederacy: Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, had united under one or a single dominion within the British Empire.
7 The First-Ever Canada Day, Or Dominion Day, Commenced On July 1st, 1867
Thanks to the passing of the North American Act of 1867, a holiday was born on July 1st, 1867. Often referred to as Canada's birthday, this momentous occasion simplified a true milestone in Canada's history. On this day, Canada's four colonies united and became a true powerhouse within the British Empire, which Canada continues to be to this day. It is worth noting that it wasn't until the following year, on June 20th, 1868, that a royal proclamation decreed the citizens of Canada should celebrate this occasion in the capital city of Ottawa.
6 Canada’s Birthday Sometimes Happens On July 2nd
Canada Day has been celebrated on July 1st, in many ways, since its inception. Still, this statutory holiday does fall on a Sunday every now and then. As a result, Canada Day is legally observed on Monday, July 2nd, when this occurs (in most places). Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador are the exceptions to this rule (Canada Day is the first of July). Of course, this does not stop many people who do celebrate this holiday from potentially partying all weekend long, given the opportunity.
5 Early Celebration Included Modest Festivities
In the late 1860s, Canada Day, or Dominion Day, was a modest gathering north of the U.S. border. During its early stages, attendees would commemorate Canada's Independence with ringing church/cathedral bells, bonfires, and contemporary musical entertainment. Such celebrations during this time were often limited to the nation's capital, Ottawa. It actually was not until 1917 that larger scale and more extravagant celebrations commenced. Canadian government-sponsored or orchestrated festivities came about even later in 1958. But these government put-on events were once again limited to the capital area. Though Dominion Day did make its national televised debut in the 1960s, it was only after 1980 that Dominion Day made its way beyond the capital into the nation's heart.
4 An International Holiday
As previously mentioned, after 1982, Canada Day was official in more ways than one. With a new name and national recognition, Canada Day was ready for the big stage and thus set its sights on international fame. Unsurprisingly, travelers can now get in on the festivities throughout North America and across the pond since 2006 (in London's Trafalgar Square, in the United Kingdom). But that's not all; thanks to Canadian ex-pats and students, celebratory events now take place all over the world, including in Mexico, China, and Hong Kong.
3 Beer, Singing O Canada, And Moving Day
Canada Day has turned into a true independence party with fireworks, parades, picnics, and barbecues despite its humble and semi-peaceful beginnings. Canada Day is many things to many people, including a great excuse to declare one's love for all things beer (expect to see more than a few flip-cup torments). It is also the perfect time to brush up on your O Canada lyrics and sing your heart out. That said, if you happen to be in the providence of Quebec on Canada Day, do not be surprised by all the moving trucks. Quebec has a long-standing tradition of mandating the end of rental leases on July 1st.
2 Commemorative Bathtub Race
For Canada Day's Centennial celebration, only a bathtub race would do for Nanaimo, a little town in British Columbia. Legend says that this one-of-a-kind town seemingly decided that the standard fireworks and fanfare were not enough to mark such a momentous occasion. Instead, Nanaimo took the festivities to another level by hosting probably the world's first bathtub race to commemorate Canada Day. After its centennial debut, official bathtub racing was pushed back later in July to not coincide with Canada Day. But the good news is the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race & 4-day Marine Festival was established—making it just one more reason to take a tour around Canada this July.
1 No Wrong Way To Join In
These are just a few reasons to check out Canada Day or plan a trip to Canada this summer. Ultimately, there is no wrong way to approach Canada Day if you so choose. For many, Canada Day is a true celebration of Independence, a time to reflect on Canada's past, a reason to finally learn those O Canada lyrics, an excuse to grab a beer and race downhill in a bathtub, and for others—it's simply Moving Day. As a fellow traveler, history lover, ex-pat, or student, you get to choose your own adventure.