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July 1st Is Canada Day

Celebrate Canada - Le Canada en Fête

     While Canadians celebrate Canada Day on July 1st, it was not always called by that name. Before Confederation it was known as Dominion Day, celebrating the events that occurred on July 1, 1867, when The British North America Act created the Canadian federal government, "one Dominion under the name of Canada." On Oct. 27,Canada Day 1982, Dominion Day was officially renamed "Canada Day" by an Act of Parliament. Successive Canadian governments have downplayed the colonial status. If Canada Day falls on Sunday, it is observed the following day.

     In the twelve days leading up to Canada Day, all Canadians are encouraged to celebrate their pride in their country by participating in "Celebrate Canada!" activities. From June 21, National Aboriginal Day, through Saint-Jean Baptiste Day on June 24, and culminating with Canada Day, you and your family may take part in a myriad of events and activities organized in your community. Have fun and "Celebrate Canada!


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Canada Day Poster Challenge FinalistsCanada Day Poster

     Each year, students are invited to design a poster that shows their pride in Canada and in being Canadian. In 2001, close to 19,000 young people aged eighteen and under submitted posters that interpreted the theme "Celebrating Canada's Diversity". The artwork of the national winner becomes the offical poster for "Celebrate Canada!". In addition, all 13 provincial/territorial finalists and a parent win a trip to Ottawa where they take part in the official Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill. 

National Winner Jennifer Truong, 14 years, Saskatchewan (Regina)

The hardships of the pioneers, explorers, and the First Nations led to the creation of the wonderful nation we know as Canada today.

Posters for this year's national and provincial winners may be found at

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Canada Day Background

     On June 20, 1868, a proclamation signed by the Governor General, Lord Monck, called upon all HerMap 1783 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 1st. 

     The July 1 holiday was established by statute in 1879, under the name Dominion Day. There is no record of organized ceremonies after this first anniversary, except for the 50th anniversary of Confederation in 1917, at which time the new Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings, under construction, was dedicated as a memorial to the Fathers of Confederation and to the valour of Canadians fighting in the First World War in Europe. 

     The next celebration was held in 1927 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation. It was highlighted by the laying of the cornerstone by the Governor General of the Confederation Building on Wellington Street and the inauguration of the Carillon in the Peace Tower. 

 Canada Map    Since 1958, the government has arranged for an annual observance of Canada's national day with the Secretary of State of Canada in charge of the coordination. The format provided for a Trooping the Colours ceremony on the lawn of Parliament Hill in the afternoon, a sunset ceremony in the evening followed by a mass band concert and fireworks display.

     Another highlight was Canada's Centennial in 1967 when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II attended the celebrations with Parliament Hill again being the backdrop for a large scale official ceremony. 

     The format changed in 1968 with the addition of multicultural and professional concerts held on Parliament Hill including a nationally televised show. Up until 1975, the focus of the celebrations, under the name "Festival Canada", was held in the National Capital Region during the whole month of July and involved numerous cultural, artistic and sport activities, as well as municipalities and voluntary organizations. The celebration was cancelled in 1976 but was reactivated in 1977. Parliament Hill, Ottawa

     A new formula was developed in 1980 whereby the National Committee (the federal government organization charged with planning Canada's Birthday celebrations) stressed and sponsored the development of local celebrations all across Canada. "Seed money" was distributed to promote popular and amateur activities organized by volunteer groups in hundreds of local communities. The same approach was also followed for the 1981 celebrations with the addition of fireworks displays in 15 major cities across the nation. 

     On 27 October 1982, July 1st which was known as "Dominion Day" became "Canada Day". 

     Since 1985, Canada Day Committees are established in each province and territory to plan, organize and coordinate the Canada Day celebrations locally. Grants are provided by the Department to those committees. 

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     The national anthem of Canada in both English and French is presented below.

 Full History of "O Canada" the Canadian National Anthem

     "O Canada" was proclaimed Canada's national anthem on July 1, 1980, 100 years after it was first sung on June 24, 1880. The music was composed by Calixa Lavallée, a well-known composer; French lyrics to accompany the music were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The song gained steadily in popularity. Many English versions have appeared over the years. The version on which the official English lyrics are based was written in 1908 by Mr. Justice Robert Stanley Weir. The official English version includes changes recommended in 1968 by a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons. The French lyrics remain unaltered. 

     Many people think of Calixa Lavallée as an obscure music teacher who dashed off a patriotic song in a moment of inspiration. The truth is quite different. Lavallée was, in fact, known as "Canada's national musician" and it was on this account that he was asked to compose the music for a poem written by Judge Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The occasion was the "Congrès national des Canadiens-Français" in1880, which was being held at the same time as the St. Jean-Baptiste Day celebrations. 

     There had been some thought of holding a competition for a national hymn to have its first performance on St. Jean-Baptiste Day, June 24, but by January the committee in charge decided there was not enough time, so the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, the Honourable Théodore Robitaille, commissioned Judge Routhier to write a hymn and Lavallée to compose the tune. Lavallée made a number of drafts before the tune we know was greeted with enthusiasm by his musical friends. It is said that in the excitement of success Lavallée rushed to show his music to the Lieutenant Governor without even stopping to sign the manuscript. 

     The first performance took place on June 24, 1880 at a banquet in the "Pavillon des Patineurs" in Quebec City as the climax of a"Mosaïque sur des airs populaires canadiens" arranged by Joseph Vézina, a prominent composer and bandmaster. 
Although this first performance of "O Canada" with Routhier's French words was well received on the evening, it does not seem to have made a lasting impression at that time. Arthur Lavigne, a Quebec musician and music dealer, published it without copyright but there was no rush to reprint. Lavallée's obit in 1891 doesn't mention it among his accomplishments, nor does a biography of Judge Routhier published in 1898. French Canada is represented in the 1887 edition of the University of Toronto song book by "Vive la canadienne", "A la claire fontaine" and "Un canadien errant". 

     English Canada in general probably first heard "O Canada" when school children sang it when the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall (later King George V and Queen Mary) toured Canada in 1901. Five years later Whaley and Royce in Toronto published the music with the French text and a translation into English made by Dr. Thomas Bedford Richardson, a Toronto doctor. The Mendelssohn Choir used the Richardson lyrics in one of their performances about this time and Judge Routhier and the French press complimented the author. 

Richardson version: 
O Canada! Our fathers' land of old 
Thy brow is crown'd with leaves of red and gold. 
Beneath the shade of the Holy Cross 
Thy children own their birth 
No stains thy glorious annals gloss 
Since valour shield thy hearth. 
Almighty God! On thee we call 
Defend our rights, forfend this nation's thrall, 
Defend our rights, forfend this nation's thrall.

     In 1908 Collier's Weekly inaugurated its Canadian edition with a competition for an English text to Lavallée's music. It was won by Mercy E. Powell McCulloch, but her version did not take.

McCulloch version : 
O Canada! in praise of thee we sing; 
From echoing hills our anthems proudly ring. 
With fertile plains and mountains grand 
With lakes and rivers clear, 
Eternal beauty, thos dost stand 
Throughout the changing year. 
Lord God of Hosts! We now implore 
Bless our dear land this day and evermore, 
Bless our dear land this day and evermore.

     Since then many English versions have been written for "O Canada". Poet Wilfred Campbell wrote one. So did Augustus Bridle, Toronto critic. Some were written for the 1908 tercentenary of Quebec City. One version became popular in British Columbia... 

Buchan version: 
O Canada, our heritage, our love 
Thy worth we praise all other lands above. 
From sea to see throughout their length 
From Pole to borderland, 
At Britain's side, whate'er betide 
Unflinchingly we'll stand 
With hearts we sing, "God save the King", 
Guide then one Empire wide, do we implore, 
And prosper Canada from shore to shore.

     However the version that gained the widest currency was made in 1908 by Robert Stanley Weir, a lawyer and at the time Recorder of the City of Montréal. This is the version which was published in an official form for the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation in 1927, and has since been generally accepted in English speaking Canada. 

Weir version: 
O Canada! Our home and native land 
True patriot love in all thy sons command. 
With glowing hearts we see thee rise 
The True North strong and free! 
And stand on guard, O Canada 
We stand on guard for thee. 
O Canada, glorious and free, 
We stand on guard, we stand on guard for thee. 
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

     Many musicians have made arrangements of "O Canada" but there appears to be a scarcity of recordings suitable for various purposes. 

O Canada! français O Canada! English

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Other Symbols of Canada:

The Arms of Canada:

Canada Flag

The National Flag of Canada:

Royal Union Flag

Royal Union Flag:

Other National Emblems - The Beaver:

Other National Emblems - The Maple Leaf:

Other National Emblems - National Colours of Red and White:

Other National Emblems - Origin of the Name Canada:

Other National Emblems - Tartans:

Other National Emblems - Personal flags and standards:

Other National Emblems - The Great Seal:

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Key Days of Canada Day Celebration

From June 21 to Canada Day, people throughout this country show how pride in Canada can be expressed in many different ways. 

National Aboriginal Day - June 21 

Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day - June 24

Canadian Multiculturalism Day: June 27 

     Sometimes the things we value most are the things we take for granted. Canadians live in a country where the diversity of their landscape is equal to the diversity of their many cultures. Although Canada's natural beauty is recognized worldwide, it is their bilingual and multicultural society that represents their greatest wealth.

     During the eleven days of "Celebrate Canada!", celebrate what distinguishes Canadians: their history, their geography, their institutions, their values, their responsibilities and rights, and their heritage. Here are a few examples of how to highlight your own sense of pride in Canada:

     Every Canadian community is a treasure trove of diverse peoples, cultures, traditions, and history. Rediscovering our treasures goes to the heart of our Canadian identity. It is the knowledge and appreciation of our roots and our sense of belonging at home, school, place of work, or place of worship-to name but a few-that strengthen our feelings of who we are as Canadians. 

     From June 21 to Canada Day, rediscover and share your treasures as you "Celebrate Canada!"

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The website below traces the evolution of Canada under British rule and later as a dominion.

Canadian Confederation - from the National Library of Canada

The site above traces the Territorial Evolution of Canada under the British

     By the Treaty of Versailles, 1783, the independence of the 13 colonies forming the United States was acknowledged. The boundary between the United States and British North America was to run, following various rivers, lakes and latitude 45°, west to the Lake of the Woods and then to the Mississippi. 

For More Information on Canada

For seven consecutive years, the United Nations has chosen Canada as the best country in the world in which to live. This section of thAncestors of European Originse Canada Site provides you with a wonderful opportunity to explore this great nation on-line. Satisfy your curiosity and enhance your knowledge about this remarkable country with the numerous resources found here. 

Canadian Genealogy Centre
Reflecting the complete integration of genealogical content from the former Web sites of the National Archives of Canada, the National Library of Canada and the Canadian Genealogy Centre.

Our Ancestors of European Origin

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Virtual Canada Day Post Cards:

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