Canada Day 2021

Canada Day History, Celebrations, and More

June 28, 2021
Canadian Flag
Muskoka Stock Photos/Shutterstock

O Canada! It’s time to celebrate Canada Day observed this year on Thursday, July 1. Is Canada Day like the 4th of July in the U.S.? How does Canada celebrate this national day? Learn more about this holiday and its history. Plus, find some delicious recipes!

What Is Canada Day?

Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is a federal statutory holiday celebrating Canadian Confederation. Originally called “Dominion Day,” the holiday commemorates the unification of the three North American British colonies: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Province of Canada (which consisted of Ontario and Quebec).

On July 1, 1867, the British North America Act formally joined the colonies, creating the unified, semi-independent Dominion of Canada. Essentially, Canada became a self-governing dominion of Great Britain. 

In 1982, Canada became fully independent. Since 1983, July 1 has been known as “Canada Day.”

Since 1867, Canada has grown to include six more provinces and three territories—the most recent being the territory of Nunavut in 1999. The country is now made up of 13 provinces and territories.

Canada Day

When Is Canada Day?

In 2021, Canada Day will be celebrated on Thursday, July 1.

Canada Day occurs on the same date each year (July 1).

It’s a public holiday in Canada. Workers typically have this day off, but if the holiday occurs on a weekend, the following Monday may be given as a day off instead.

Canada Day Dates

Year Canada Day
2021 Thursday, July 1
2022 Friday, July 1
2023 Saturday, July 1
2024 Monday, July 1

Canada Day Celebrations

Just as the Fourth of July celebrates American independence, Canada Day is a celebration of a united Canada and independence (though it was more of a major milestone on Canada’s journey toward freedom). On this day, the Canadian flag flies high across the country, while citizens typically celebrate with firework displays, concerts, barbecues, parades, and other patriotic activities. 

The nation’s largest Canada Day celebrations typically occur in the country’s capital, Ottawa, right in front of the parliament building. See a list of Canada Day festivities in Ottawa.

Canada Day Trivia

  • July 1, 1867: John A. MacDonald became the first Prime Minister of Canada. The current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has served since 2015.

  • In 1967, Montreal hosted the World’s Fair (Expo 67), celebrating 100 years since Canadian Confederation. It was the most successful World’s Fair of the century.

  • July 1, 1980: “O Canada” became Canada’s official national anthem. (See below for lyrics.) Originally written in French, the song was first performed 100 years earlier, on June 24, 1880, in Quebec City.

  • On July 1, 2017, Canada celebrated its 150th anniversary. 

Want to sing along on Canada Day? Here are the lyrics to “O Canada,” Canada’s national anthem:

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North, strong and free!

From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

–from “O Canada,” orig. by Robert Stanley Weir (1856–1926)

Canada Day Celebrations and Recipes

Canada is celebrated widely, with pancake breakfasts, patriotic parades, and celebratory festivals. Many people paint their faces red and white, which are Canada’s national colors. 

Check out our collections of Summer Picnic Recipes and Grilling Recipes for more fun ideas for a potluck or outdoor celebration!

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day, Canadians! How will you celebrate? Let us know in the comments!

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Reader Comments

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Residential Schools Tragedy

Linda: You are quibbling over semantics. A significant number of Indigenous children died while attending residential schools, with some schools experiencing rates as high as 1 death per 20 students. An exact number of school-related deaths remains unknown due to incomplete records from negligence. It is unclear how the children died at the schools, which were buffeted by disease outbreaks a century ago, and where children faced sexual, physical and emotional abuse and violence.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report estimates the number of unmarked graves to be 3,200. However, other sources state this is a conservative estimate, and the actual number could be much higher.
A tragedy indeed!

Canada Day

Canada is a wonderful country to which my parents immigrated after WW2.I regard it as a privilege +honour to be a citizen of such a great and wonderful country.I'm not much into flag waving or marching on parades but in my heart I shall be celebrating the 154th anniversary of our country.

Canada Day 2021

To Shelagh and John Taylor: Your comments on residential schools are not truthful: the students were not killed; they died of disease most likely; they were not dumped unceremoniously into mass graves; they were buried in individual unmarked graves over a long period of time. The numbers found so far do not add up to more than 1000 although they probably will as more graves are found with the help of ground penetrating radar. The residential school problem is a true tragedy. Do not make things worse by exaggerating the circumstances.

Canada Day 2021

This year on Canada Day, many Canadians will be reflecting instead of celebrating. In recent weeks, discoveries at several former residential schools revealed and confirmed that hundreds of Indigenous children were killed, their bodies dumped unceremoniously into mass, unmarked graves. Canada is on a path to Truth and Reconciliation - but more action is required from both government and citizens to move the process along. My hope is that Canadians will not celebrate with fireworks today, but rather take some time to learn about our past and commit to taking action toward learning the Truth of what was perpetrated against our Indigenous peoples and advocating for Reconciliation.

Canada Day 2021 - Day of Reflection

This year many Canadians and Canadian municipalities will forego Canada Day celebrations to instead reflect on the tragedy of the discovery of more than 1,000 unmarked graves, most of which are believed to belong to Indigenous children. Many more are feared to be yet discovered.
Canada’s residential school system operated from the late 1800s until the 1990s. It was part of a wider colonial project that aimed to take over Indigenous lands and forcibly assimilate First Nation, Metis and Inuit children. Various churches, including most notably the Roman Catholic Church, ran at least 139 residential schools across Canada, and thousands of Indigenous children are believed to have died while attending the institutions.
In the city of Fredricton, New Brunswick officials say the city will be lit orange – the colour largely tied to Canada’s residential school history – and is urging citizens to spend the day learning about Indigenous communities.

Canada Day Activities

I’m a Canadian transplant that lives in Atlanta,GA. My 2 boys and I will be kayaking down the Chestatee River this afternoon then having a cook out on the bbq. Hot dogs and burgers. Happy Canada Day to everyone.

Canada

I'll be singing with Northern Voice in Hampton, NB as part of the Canada Day celebration. Northern Voice is an A Cappella chorus that sings uniquely Canadian songs. Happy Canada Day everyone!

Canada Day

This year I will be in hospital with two broken ankles celebrating Canada Day. This is the first year since 1984 that I will not be running/attending the Canada Day events in Crawford Bay, BC, it is always a special day for my family as well as the community. Happy Canada Day everyone be proud of out wonderful country.