Monday, June 30, 2008

This year Canada`s national holiday, Canada Day, falls on a Tuesday. The result is that many people fail to have the long weekend that happens if it falls on Friday, Monday or a weekend. But still it is a day off anyways, with fireworks and bad barbecue food(potential new name -'Campylobacter Day'-same initials anyways). Unlike last year, anarchists across Canada are not generally holding "anti-Canada" day protests- which might actually be of some wisdom. If you have little chance of generally having an influence it may be better to not thumb your nose at a very popular holiday. But that is a matter of debate. Here's the skivvy on our national holiday.

Tomorrow, July 1st is Canada Day up here in the land of mosquitoes and 6 months of winter. This is the national holiday of Canada. Canada Day marks the beginning of the Dominion of Canada via the British Noth America act passed on July 1st, 1867. On that day three British colonies, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada (consisting of the united provinces of Upper (Ontario) and Lower (Quebec) Canada were united as a "Dominion". The original title of 'The Kingdom of Canada' was rejected. The title of "Dominion" was accepted because of the reference to "having dominion from sea to sea".

The holiday was slow to catch on. On June 20th, 1868 Governor General Lord Monck issued a proclamation calling for a a celebration on July 1st of that year. The holiday was only established as "Dominion Day" by statute in 1879, and no official ceremonies were held until 1917, the golden anniversary of the establishment of Canada. On this date the new Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings was dedicated as a monument to the fathers of Confederation and to the bravery of the Canadian troops dieing uselessly in WW I in the service of British imperialism. It was ten years later in 1927, the Diamond Jubilee, that the next official ceremony was held. On this date the cornerstone of the Confederation Building on Wellington St. was laid in Ottawa and the Carillon in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill was opened.

The official and regular observation of Canada Day only began in 1958. From this date the traditions of fireworks, band concerts and the trooping of the Colours on Parliament Hill began. Beginning around Canada's Centennial in 1967 the presentation of multicultural events began and the celebration became known as "Festival Canada".After 1980 the federal government began to increasingly promote Canada Day celebrations outside of Ottawa. The traditional fireworks were first held in 15 larger cities across the country in 1981. Dominion Day was officially renamed as Canada Day on October 27th, 1982 even though most people had ceased to refer to it as "Dominion Day" many years before.

Most Canadian cities now have Canada Day celebrations, sponsored to a large degree by the federal government. Concerts, pancake breakfasts, carnivals, public citizenship ceremonies and more are organized here there and everywhere across the country. The holiday is celebrated internationally as well, without official recognition, in such places as London, England or Detroit, Michigan. In the latter case it is called the "International Freedom Festival" and is celebrated by a large fireworks display over the Detroit River that separates Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. In Newfoundland the morning of July 1st is held as a remembrance of the huge losses of the Newfoundland Regiment at the Beaumont Hotel on the first day of the battle of the Somme during WW I. Canada Day is "officially" July 1st unless this is a Sunday. When this happens the "official" holiday is held on Monday, July 2nd even though most events still happen on the first.

In Quebec the observation of a holiday on July 1st derives from a totally different tradition. It is called 'Moving Day' there. This day was originally May 1st. This was the date that the feudal seigneurs were permitted to begin evictions of their tenants, after the winter snows had melted(usually, but not always-Molly). This later evolved into a law saying that urban leases had to begin on May 1st and end on April 30th. The date of "Moving Day" was changed to July 1st during the Quiet Revolution and it was also added that leases no longer had to have fixed terms. The tradition, however, has persisted, and July 1st remains a day of great chaos in Quebec. Movers have to be booked three months in advance. They work round the clock and often charge 3 times the normal rate. The day is particularly ugly in Montreal where only about 1/3rd of the people own their own house and where landlords typically don't provide such items as fridges and stoves. Tenants usually have to supply their own, and these appliances have to be moved down and up narrow staircases leading up to apartments several floors up. Look out for falling objects !

If you want to learn more about Canada Day look to any of the following references. The official government site for this day is at . The site of the National Capital Commission gives the low down on the official celebrations in Ottawa. If you want to see what events are occurring in your area you can search for them at Canada Day.Com. If you want to download free Canada Day graphics they are available at .

1398: Legend has it that Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney landed at Guysborough, Nova Scotia on this day. This is unverified.
1492: The King and Queen of Spain give Jews 30 days to leave their Kingdom. This is verified as is the fact that some of the funds stolen from departing Jews were used to finance Columbus' expeditions.
1566: Nostradamus, beloved fad prophet (later to be "profit" for new age charlatans dies). He never saw it coming.
1578: Martin Frobisher lands in Greenland and claims it for England, naming it 'West England'. Frozen fish and frozen chips franchises open soon after.
1812: In the lead in to the War of 1812 Upper Canada gives US citizens 14 days to leave the province. The only country to ever threaten Canada directly tries over the next few years to conquer Canada. Canada fights its first and only defensive war and wins, or at least beats the Americans to a draw. Maple syrup was not renamed "freedom syrup" in the USA at this time.
1837: William Lyon Mackenzie helps form the 'Committee of Vigilance' in Upper Canada, a provisional revolutionary government that is eventually defeated by the British Crown.
1858: First Chinese colonists reach Victoria BC (see later item 1927).
1866: New Brunswick finally officially recognizes Confederation. Looks for an Intercolonial Railroad that costs them a pretty penny and helps them not at all.
1878: The famous anarchist Bakunin dies in Berne Switzerland. "Old Mike's body lies a'molderin' in the grave, old Mike's body lies a'molderin' in the grave, old Mike's body lies a'molderin' in the grave, but his soul goes marching on".
1892:Famous Homestead Strike at the Homestead Steel Mills in Pennsylvania begins. Vigorously contested by both sides.
1892: Gung ho Teddy Roosevelt leads his Rough Riders up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish American War. A goofy and exceedingly foolish move that puts his men in position to be picked off by even the notoriously poor shots in the Spanish army. The 10th Calvary, consisting of Afro-American soldiers charges to his rescue and saves his sorry ass. They get none of the credit.
1899:The Gideon Society for Bible distribution is formed. For over a century the Gideon Bible in the drawer of the hotel room gives that eerie feeling that you just don't have words for to millions of travellers.
1900: The storied Fraser River strike of fishermen begins in BC.
1912: The Regina Cyclone roars through downtown Regina, Saskatchewan, killing 28 and leaving 2,500 homeless. Dominion Day is cancelled. Many ex-residents of Regina such as Molly swear that the dump never recovered.
1923: Passage of the 'Chinese Immigration Act' restricting Chinese immigration to Canada in response to hysterical "nativist" sentiment. Finally repealed in 1947, but often referred to as 'Humiliation Day' amongst Chinese Canadians.
1930: A Pontifical Mass is held in the Vatican to celebrate the first canonization of North Americans, the 'Jesuit Martyrs'. Mussolini welcomes Archbishop Forbes of Ottawa with open arms (see next item).
1937: Spanish bishops officially endorse the rebel Francisco Franco in his bid to conquer Spain for right wing terrorism. Dios con nosotros- the old refrain-but also viva la muerte.
1941: The Mackenzie King government brings in Bill 80, sanctioning his promise not to apply conscription for overseas service.
1945: Saskatoon Star Phoenix runs classified ad reading:"For sale, one homemade coffin, never used. Reason for sale: Improved health. Fit 6' 2"."
1962: Algeria wins independence from France despite long running terrorist campaign by the French government.
1966:The USA launches Medicare to provide medical services for people over 65 years. Over 40 years later the program has improved only slightly.
1972:First edition of Ms Magazine.
1973: First Canadian National Lesbians' Conference.
1976: US Air Force base at Goose Bay, Labrador closes. Departure of good ol' southern USA boys from Newfoundland results in first fishery crisis as the 'God stocks' are depleted.
1977: American Indian activist Leonard Pelletier is sentenced to two life terms on trumped up evidence. Protests continue to this day.
1983: Simpson-Sears fined $1 million for misleading advertising, largest such fine in Canadian history. Across the prairies sales of the Sears Catalogue collapse as it is official that it not just as soft as toilet paper.
1989: The Bank of Canada ceases to issue one dollar bills and the Loonie is hatched. The dollar coin pulls the belt market back from the edge of collapse. Pants fall and belt sales rise.
1991: The Warsaw Pact is officially dissolved at a meeting in Prague, Czech Republic. Vodka sales collapse across eastern Europe as Russian soldiers stagger home.
1996: "Horsey Betty", Queen Elizabeth II, unveils equestrian statue of herself on Parliament Hill. Becomes instant "hit" with local pigeon population.