Although Canada celebrates its 153rd birthday, the merriment of Canada Day was only established 141 years ago.
Nothing happened in the first 12 years after Confederation, largely due to Nova Scotians, who felt they had been forced into Confederation against their will. In fact they wanted the anniversary of Confederation to become a day of mourning.
When the holiday was finally established in 1879, British Columbia objected greatly, as they were quite distressed at the failure to complete the railroad.
Nothing much happened to commemorate the birth of Canada, until 1879, when the Governor General officially created Dominion Day, alluding to the reference in the British North America Act, to the country as a Dominion. There were no real celebrations; communities had individual events, and a party was held at Rideau hall, but no other festivities were organized.
That all changed in 1958, when then-Prime Minister John Diefenbaker decided Ottawa should play a more direct part in the nation’s birthday. The term ‘Dominion Day’ was beginning to lose meaning, as Canada was growing autonomous from the British Government, but Dief had no interests in weakening ties with its imperial past.
From the end of the second World War, the Liberals were doing things to subtly remove the word ‘Dominion’ from various institutions, but Diefenbaker, who was very pro-British, kept the name ‘Dominion Day’ to keep the link to the past.
In the early 70’s the pendulum was swinging the other way, and government celebrations grew more subdued and eventually were cancelled altogether in 1976. Later that year, when Rene Levesque came to power, the rest of the country wanted to be unified under one banner. Dominion Day was once again resurrected, but it wasn’t until 1982 the name was changed to Canada Day.
Today we are very proud to celebrate the birthday of our great nation. Remember to wear red on July 1st, and shout out your pride at being Canadian. Is there really any other country you would rather live in?