Canadian Holidays: JULY 1

Canadian Holidays: JULY 1 David Watts 2 July 2003

Our Number One national holiday is the first day of summer for many school children, and the start of the second of the calendar year.

This was the date in 1867 when the previous United Province of Canada joined two other colonies in a new federal union called the Dominion of Canada—the seventh constitutional arrangement since the arrival of Europeans 360 years earlier.

Leading up to Dominion Day, as it was called at the time, had been three years of hope and debate, discussion and uncertainty in what was then known as British North America.

Approval in Britain was anticlimactic. In the Parliament at Westminster British MP’s yawned and fidgeted while the Act was being read, then finally turned with interest to debate a local dog tax.

But what was ho-hum in Britain was cause for celebration when it came into effect on July 1. A new Canada was born, and the Governor General saluted the beginning of a “new nationality.”

Like the country it reflects, July 1 has changed significantly over the years:

In 1867 it marked Canada’s emergence as the first self-governing Dominion in the British Empire

Sixty-five years later Dominion Day recognized our growing international presence as the first ranking power after Britain in the new Commonwealth which replaced the British Empire.

In 1967 a renamed Canada Day showcased a newly bilingual country hosting its first world’s fair.

Today it has become a celebration of the diversity of peoples who live in Canada’s global village.

The “new nationality” Lord Minto saluted in 1867 is now the human faces of Earth itself.