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 velour of Canadians fighting in the First World War in Europe.
Before 1982 Canada Day had been known as Dominion Day, First of July, Confederation Day, and July the First.
The name Canada derives from an Iroquoian word for "village," kanata, that French explorers heard used to refer to the area near present-day Quebec City. Today, Canada comprises ten provinces and three territories.
Celebrate Canada! is an eleven-day celebration which takes place from June 21 to July 1.
National Aboriginal Day on June 21, will kick off the celebrations. Events continue with Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day on June 24, Canadian Multiculturalism Day on June 27, and culminate with Canada Day on July 1.
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. Until 1982, July 1st was known as Dominion Day, and some places (and people) in Canada still prefer to call the holiday Dominion Day, so if you hear either Canada Day or Dominion Day they are still talking about Canada's Birthday, July 1st.
Unlike our neighbors to the south, a country formed by two major wars, Canada was born in relative peace, using a legal format to produce a constitution. It is perhaps due to the non-confrontational aspect of our nation's birth that we are less demonstrative in its celebration.
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 October 27, 1982, July 1st which was known as "Dominion Day" became "Canada Day".