Also known as “Dominion Day,” Canada Day is one of the most important holidays on the Canadian national calendar, and if you’re planning a trip to Niagara Falls on or around July 1st, you’ll want to know what the hubbub is about, so you can properly appreciate it and participate. From fireworks to food, here is a closer look at how Canadians celebrate their independence.
First: Some History
It was on July 1, 1867 that the Constitution Act, 1867—then known as the British North America Act—freed Canada from British rule and established the country’s independence. The very next year, the Governor General requested that all Canadians join together to celebrate that independence on July 1st, but it wasn’t until 1879 that a federal law was enacted to make the day a legally recognized holiday. For years, Canada Day languished as a national holiday due to the fact that most Canadians still saw themselves as British. As a result, any July 1st celebrating took place mostly in and around Parliament Hill. Over the years, however, national pride began to grow, and Canadians all over the country started to participate. Today, Canada Day is a holiday almost everyone joins in celebrating.
Outdoor Family Fun
Because Canada Day is celebrated during the warmest time of year, many Canadians take the opportunity to head outside to enjoy family and friends. Cookouts in the backyard are incredibly common, but many Canadians also like to head to the park, beach, or pool to relax for the day. The Canadian Air Force puts on air shows as a part of the day’s celebration, and if you ever find yourself near one, you should definitely attend. If you get invited to a Canada Day event at someone’s house, bring something to throw on the grill, and expect to eat some distinctly Canadian food like beaver tails or poutine.
Parades are a highlight of many towns’ and cities’ Canada Day celebrations, including Niagara Falls. Many Canada Day parades express national pride in unique ways that can include everything from marching bands and Mounties to Canada-themed floats. If there are bands, expect “O Canada” to be played at least once, and if you don’t already know them, try to learn the lyrics ahead of time, so you won’t stick out among the locals crowded around you. Keep in mind that, should you ever find yourself in a French-speaking part of the country, you’ll need to know it in French.
As with many national celebrations held around the world, the climactic event that caps off a day of revelry is a patriotic fireworks display. Almost every decent-sized town will have some sort of fireworks show, and some Canadians will shoot off their own throughout the day and evening, but the larger cities—and Niagara Falls, of course—boast the best displays. Wherever you are, grab a blanket, and stake out a good viewing spot ahead of time.
Canada Day is a unique way to experience Canadian culture, whether you’re a Canuck through and through or you’re just visiting. However you join in celebrating, be sure to dress in red and white—the colors of the Canadian flag.