1 July

Four Provinces Celebrate Canada's Birthday

Architect of Confederation Honoured by Queen

. . . it is essential to the welfare of this colony, and its future good government, that a Constitution should be framed in unison with the wishes of the people, and suited to the growing importance and intelligence of the country, and that such Constitution should embrace a union of the British North American Provinces . . .

                                                                                -BRITISH AMERICAN LEAGUE, 1849

More important events have taken place in Canada on July 1 than on any other day of the year, but first place will always be retained by Confederation Day, 1867. This was Canada's birthday, although Canada then included only Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Most nations were born of adversity, unhappy occasions, often due to war. Canada was born of diversity, a curious blending of races, geography and economics.

For the most part, her birthday was a happy occasion. In Ottawa, church bells began ringing after midnight, June 30. There was also a 101-gun salute, while 21-gun salutes were fired in other centres. In Saint John and Halifax, however, a number of merchants were so opposed to Confederation that they draped their stores in crepe.

There was a drab ceremony in the Privy Council chamber, in which Lord Monck was sworn in as governor-general by Chief Justice Draper. After the cabinet ministers had taken their oaths of office, 1.ord Monck, who hated pomp as much as Macdonald loved it, announced that Queen Victoria had made John A. Macdonald a Knight Commander of the Bath! Six other Fathers of Confederation, Cartier, Galt, Tilley, Tupper, Howland and McDougall, were made Companions of the Bath, which meant they would have no titles. This was a mistake. Cartier and Galt were so angry that they refused the decorations. Later, however, they were made baronets.

The remainder of the day has been summed up beautifully by W. G. Hardy in From Sea Unto Sea. He wrote: "The official part of the ceremonies was completed by midday. Then, across the Dominion, but more particularly in what had been the province of Canada, the people went on holiday. In Canada East, renamed Quebec, it was flags and bunting and family parties, and a cricket game at Trois Rivières. Canada West, which had now become Ontario, favoured brass bands, regattas, races, and the like. In the more remote centres the farmers gathered in the local fairgrounds or picnic places for a program of sports and a country supper of salads, cold meats, pies and cakes, at tables set up on trestles under the trees. As the soft July night floated clown, the villages, towns and cities were bright with Chinese lanterns on the porches and with fireworks and illuminations. The people, the inchoate mass without articulate voice, sensed that something of significance had occurred!"


1 July

-1686    Iberville took Fort Rupert, Hudson Bay.

-1870    An Order-in-Council authorized a railway to be built to the Pacific if British Columbia joined Confederation.

-1873    Prince Edward Island joined Confederation.

-1915    Newfoundland troops took Beaumont Hamel in France.

-1927    Canada celebrated its Diamond Jubilee of Confederation.

               Direct communication was established between governments of Canada and Britain without going through the governor-general.

-1941    The Unemployment Insurance Act came into force.

-1955    London, Ontario, held its centennial celebration.

-1962    Medicare came into force in Saskatchewan.