Canada Day: A national day, flood cancelations and royal baby buzz

MONDAY, JULY 1: “O Canada! Our home and native land!”  So goes the national anthem as Canadians living all around the world celebrate Canada Day—recalling the northern nation’s official confederation 146 years ago on a summer’s day very close to the date of American Independence Day.

Fireworks, parades, barbecues, outdoor concerts, free museum admissions and carnivals mark the fete from coast to coast. Even if you don’t own a red-maple-leaf flag, you can learn more about Canada’s history by reading below and checking out the assortment of red-and-white recipes and party ideas. English royals have attended Canada Day festivities in the past—as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge did as recently as 2011—but with a royal due date looming near, the family will remain closer to home this year. Still, William and Catherine recently relayed a message to the flood residents and victims’ families in Alberta, just one of the regions where Canada Day 2013 events will be canceled this year. (Wikipedia already has an extensive article online about the June disaster, described as the worst flooding in Alberta’s history.)

And on the looming royal birth? Canadians, along with many other members of the British commonwealth, are reported as “going wild” for the royal baby. The Canadian Globe and Mail is planning a commemorative edition for after the royal birth, which is already estimated to be the best-viewed story of 2013; significant monuments, such as Niagara Falls and Toronto’s CN Tower, will also be lit up in pink or blue.


Canada Day was originally known as Dominion Day, marking the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act that united three colonies into a single country. Still, British parliament and Cabinet retained some political control over the new country until 1982, when the Canada Act passed and Dominion Day was renamed “Canada Day.” (Wikipedia has details.)

Hundreds of thousands have gathered on the banks of Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, around July 1 since the 1950s, when the two cities hold a joint International Freedom Festival; more recently, global festivities for Canada Day have exploded in popularity. Trafalgar Square in London, England, hosts Canadian performers, activities and much more; Hong Kong marks Canada D’eh with thousands of participants; in Shanghai, China, Canada Day events are held at Bund Beach.


Canada’s biggest party takes place in Ottawa, the nation’s capital: The lawns of Parliament Hill fill with spectators from the early morning, when the Changing of the Guard ceremony and flag raising takes place. By mid-day, city streets are closed down for the abundance of events and by evening, a massive fireworks display fills the sky over Parliament Hill.

Next on this list is Vancouver’s Canada Place, which gathers upward of 250,000 people for 13 hours of free music, dance, food, exhibits and parade. An impressive Lumberjack Show comes to Vancouver on July 1, while in Halifax, the Canadian Museum of Immigration offers free admission, a Multicultural Fair and Official Citizenship Ceremony. (Read more at Canada am.) Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield will make an appearance in Ottawa this year.

Looking for fireworks? Get the official list of public displays across Canada at 680 News.

Crossing the border to celebrate? The Canada Border Services Agency offers tips on getting across safely and efficiently. (Hint: Border wait times are available online.)


What better suits a long weekend than a backyard barbecue? Host your own or find the perfect side dish to take along, with tips and ideas from Canadian publications and sites.

Burgers: Salmon with tomato aioli? Yes, please! Try a new twist on burgers with suggestions from Vancouver Sun.

Let’s Party: Wondering how to craft your invitations and menu for a Canada Day party? Check out ideas from City News Toronto.

Show Your Pride: Each year, children between 8 and 18 create posters, photographs and pieces of writing for the Canada Day Challenge, illustrating what their country means to them. View the winning entries here. If you’re eligible, start crafting ideas for a 2014 entry. Details will be posted in the fall.

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(Originally published at, an online magazine covering religion, spirituality, interfaith news and cross-cultural issues.)