Victoria Canada Day Celebrations

Canada Crowds in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa

Since 1868, Canadians celebrated the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces as Canada each July 1st. The July 1 holiday was established by statute in 1879, under the name "Dominion Day". The first record of organized ceremonies in Ottawa was for the 50th anniversary of Confederation in 1917, to dedicate the new Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings, under construction following the massive fire earlier that year, to the Fathers of Confederation and to the valour of Canadians fighting in the First World War in Europe (hence, the tower over the Parliament Buildings is called the "Peace Tower").

The next large celebration was held in 1927 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation. It was highlighted by the laying of the cornerstone by the Governor General of the Confederation Building on Wellington Street and the inauguration of the Carillon in the Peace Tower.

Since 1958, the government has arranged for an annual observance of Canada's national day in Ottawa, with the Secretary of State in charge. Typically the ceremonial Trooping the Colours was held on the lawn of Parliament Hill in the afternoon, with a sunset ceremony in the evening followed by a band concert and fireworks display.

For Canada's Centennial in 1967, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II attended the celebrations at Parliament Hill as part of a large scale official ceremony.

Canada Day crowds in Ottawa In 1968, multicultural and professional concerts were added to the Parliament Hill celebrations, which began to be nationally televised. In Ottawa, the "Festival Canada" extended the festivities over the whole month of July and included numerous cultural, artistic and sport activities.

In 1980, the National Committee (the federal government organization charged with planning Canada's Birthday celebrations) sponsored the development of local volunteer-run celebrations all across Canada, and funded fireworks displays in 15 major cities across the nation since 1981. In 1982, the July 1st holiday known as "Dominion Day" became "Canada Day".

Since 1985, Canada Day Committees are established in each province and territory to plan, organize and coordinate the Canada Day celebrations locally, with grants provided by the Canadian Heritage department.

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