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Dominion Day becomes Canada Day

The Story

After 103 years, it appears Canada has celebrated its last Dominion Day. Later this month, the Senate will debate Bill C-201, which legally changes the name from Dominion Day to Canada Day. Some sides call Dominion Day an anachronism, a label of a colonial past, while others call the re-christening a denial of Canadian history and heritage. But despite its outspoken opponents, it appears that Canada Day is here to stay.

Medium: Radio
Program: The House
Broadcast Date: Oct. 16, 1982
Guests: Florence Bird, Lawrence Decore, Jacques Flynn, Eugene Forsey, Serge Joyal, Bud Olson, Laura Sabia
Host: Jeannette Matthey
Duration: 8:15
Photo: Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press

Did You know?

• Dominion Day was officially established in 1879, but the next official celebration of the day wasn't until 1917, the 50th anniversary of Confederation. On that date, the new centre block of the Parliament buildings, still under construction, was dedicated as a memorial to the Fathers of Confederation and to Canadians fighting in the First World War in Europe.

• Bill C-201, "a Bill Amending the Holidays Act," was a private member's bill introduced by Harold Herbert, a Liberal from Quebec.

• Aside from its controversial content, the bill drew criticism over the manner in which it was passed in the House of Commons. It was voted through in five minutes with no debate, by the scant dozen members in attendance.

• July 1st was colloquially known as Canada Day for many years before Bill C-201 was passed. When Harold Herbert first brought the bill before Parliament, he noted that "[O]ne could very easily argue there is not much sense to bring forward this kind of bill today" because most Canadians, Canadian newspapers and the CBC already used the term Canada Day.

• The word "dominion" comes from the Latin root dominus, meaning "master."




Celebrating Canada Day more