Happy Canada Day! We asked The Historica-Dominion Institute staff to share what Canada Day means to them – here’s what we heard: Dominique: Canada Day for me is feeling the warm sun on the moss-covered crags of the Canadian shield after a long winter. The smell of gasoline as Dad filled up the car to […]
Just in time for Canada Day, The Historica-Dominion Institute’s President Anthony Wilson-Smith shares his memories of being a Canadian overseas: In 1988 I had just moved to what was still then the USSR for the start of a three year journalism posting in Moscow. When the time arrived for my first visit to the Kremlin, […]
Just in time for Canada Day, our own Richard Foot shares his memories of Canada Day as a member of the Governor General’s Foot Guards: Most of us have at least one special Canada Day memory: a July 1st weekend at a lakeside cottage when the weather was just perfect, or a night of fireworks […]
Canada’s national anthem was first heard one fine June evening in 1880, on the campus of Laval University in Quebec City. Joseph Keaney Foran and some fellow law students were relaxing in one of the buildings when they heard a commotion at the front door. They saw Father Pierre Rouselle, the university secretary, and three other men enter the building and head straight for the piano. In the lead was a small man with a halo of black hair around his balding dome. “He was very excited,” Foran later wrote of the little man, “and kept tapping his hands and saying ‘I’ve got it! I’ve finally found it; I’ve succeeded; come, listen.” He arranged himself at the piano and the others perched on a nearby dais. “Throwing back his head he played for us, for the first time, the masterpiece of his genius – it was Calixa Lavallée; he played O Canada.”
Naming a country is no small task. The name should evoke feelings of pride and strength and reflect the character of the land and its people. The explorer Jacques Cartier generally gets the credit for naming Canada; he documented the name in his journal, describing the “Kingdom of Canada” and noting that the entrance to the St. Lawrence River “is the way to and the beginning of…the route to Canada.” However, the story of the country’s naming is not his alone.
There were celebrations that first day, July 1, 1867, for the new “Dominion of Canada.” But neither the date, nor the name nor the designation was a sure thing even a few months before. The celebrations were hardly a spontaneous public outpouring.
After all, confederation had been strictly a political process that took place in the backrooms of Quebec City and Charlottetown, with the colonial politicians being urged on by their distant masters in London. “Here in this house,” wrote Agnes Macdonald, the new prime minister’s wife, “the atmosphere is so awfully political that sometimes I think that the very flies hold Parliament on the kitchen tablecloths.”
A recent nationwide survey found that most Canadians believe that “learning more about the history of Canada” is the best way to strengthen attachment to their country. So, this Canada Day, The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Historica-Dominion Institute challenge you to test your knowledge of Canadian history with a Canada Day quiz. The usual suspects […]