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Canada - forging ahead with confidence

Canada Day marks the creation of the Dominion of Canada through the British North America Act on July 1, 1867, uniting three British colonies-the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada.


 The Rideau Canal and buildings of Parliament Hill

The three colonies united to form one country divided into four provinces. The Province of Canada became Ontario and Quebec (see Canadian Confederation). Canada Day is always observed on July 1 unless that date falls on a Sunday, in which case it is officially observed on July 2.

MAPLE LEAF FOREVER: A day off from work, Canada Day is often a time for outdoor activities in the early Canadian summer. It is also Canada’s main patriotic holiday and often referred to as “Canada’s birthday”, particularly in the popular press.

While it is the date upon which the present Canadian Constitution first came into effect, the first day of July does not commemorate a clear-cut date of “independence” or “founding”.

Instead, it commemorates the beginning of the establishment of the Canadian confederation through the 1867 British North America Act.

The British Parliament still retained several political controls over Canada after 1867, and the country still lacked many of its modern provinces.

The date represents the biggest step in the establishment of Canada as a self-governing country, and the beginning of a gradual march towards full independence from Britain, attained with the proclamation of the Constitution Act by Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, in 1982.

A proclamation was issued by Governor General Lord Monck, on June 20, 1868, asking for “all Her Majesty’s loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada on July 1.

Dominion Day was not a particularly prominent holiday in its early inception; in the late 19th and early 20th many Canadians continued to think of themselves as primarily British, and were thus less interested in celebrating a distinctly “Canadian” form of patriotism.

Canada’s centennial of July 1, 1967 is often seen as an important day in the history of Canadian patriotism, and Canada’s maturity as a distinct, independent country. Post-1967, Dominion Day became far more popular with average Canadians.

The name was officially changed to Canada Day on October 27, 1982, largely harking back to the adoption of the earlier Canada Act 1982. However, many Canadians had already been informally referring to the holiday as “Canada Day” for a number of years before the official name change.

The celebrations in Ottawa are particularly large and lavish. Every Canada Day, hundreds of thousands gather on Parliament Hill to celebrate Canada’s birth. Official celebrations are held throughout the national capital, including in Hull, with the main show taking place on Parliament Hill.

Links:

Government of Canada: www.canada.gc.ca 

Immigration to Canada: www.cic.gc.ca 

Canadian High Commission in Sri Lanka: www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/world/embassies/srilanka/menu-en.asp 


How Canada got its name

In 1535, two Indian Youths told Jacques Cartier about the route to “kanata.” They were referring to the village of Stadacona; “kanata” was simply the Huron-Iroquois word for “village” or “settlement.”

But for want of another name, Cartier used “Canada” to refer not only to Stadacona (the site of present day Quebec City), but also to the entire area subject to its chief, Donnacona.

The name was soon applied to a much larger area: maps in 1547 designated everything north of the St. Lawrence River as “Canada.” Cartier also called the St. Lawrence River the “riviŠre de Canada”, a name used until the early 1600s.

By 1616, although the entire region was known as New France, the area along the great river of Canada and the Gulf of St. Lawrence was still called Canada.

Soon explorers and fur traders opened up territory to the west and to the south and the area depicted as “Canada” grew. In the early 1700s, the name referred to all lands in what is now the American Midwest and as far south as the present day Louisiana.

The first use of “Canada” as an official name came in 1791 when the Province of Quebec was divided into the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada. In 1841, the two Canadas were again united under one name, the Province of Canada. At the time of Confederation, the new country assumed the name of Canada.

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