By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday July 4, 2007
Happy July 4th to the USA
From disgruntled Canadians wishing our neighbours might tone it down a bit, or we’ll call the cops.
How July 4th became a thing (Source: Wikipedia)
- In 1777, thirteen gunshots were fired in salute, once at morning and once again as evening fell, on July 4 in Bristol, Rhode Island. Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary in a manner a modern American would find quite familiar: an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.
- In 1778, from his headquarters at Ross Hall, near New Brunswick, New Jersey, General George Washington marked July 4 with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute (feu de joie). Across the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.
- In 1779, July 4 fell on a Sunday. The holiday was celebrated on Monday, July 5.
- In 1781, the Massachusetts General Court became the first state legislature to recognize July 4 as a state celebration.
- In 1783, Moravians in Salem, North Carolina, held a celebration of July 4 with a challenging music program assembled by Johann Friedrich Peter. This work was titled “The Psalm of Joy.” This is recognized as the first recorded celebration and is still celebrated there today.
- In 1791, the first recorded use of the name “Independence Day” occurred.
- In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees.
- In 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday.
How July 1 became “Canada Day” formerly Dominion Day (Wikipedia)
Some Canadians were, by the early 1980s, informally referring to the holiday as Canada Day.[n 4] However, this practice did cause some controversy: Numerous politicians, journalists, and authors, such as Robertson Davies, decried the change at the time and some continue to maintain that it was illegitimate and an unnecessary break with tradition. Proponents argued that the name Dominion Day was a holdover from the colonial era, an argument given some impetus by the patriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982, and others asserted that an alternative was needed as the term does not translate well into French. Conversely, these arguments were disputed by those who claimed Dominion was widely misunderstood and conservatively inclined commenters saw the change as part of a much larger attempt by Liberals to “re-brand” or re-define Canadian history. Columnist Andrew Cohen called Canada Day a term of “crushing banality” and criticized it as “a renunciation of the past [and] a misreading of history, laden with political correctness and historical ignorance”.
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The holiday was officially renamed as a result of a private member’s bill that, on July 9, 1982, two years after receiving first reading
in the House of Commons,
there received third reading
when only twelve Members of Parliament (MPs) were present. (This was actually eight members less than a quorum
, but, according to parliamentary rules, the quorum is enforceable only at the start of a sitting or when a member calls attention to it.
) The bill was passed by the House in five minutes, without debate,
which inspired “grumblings about the underhandedness of the process”.
It met with stronger resistance in the Senate—some Senators objected to the change of name; Ernest Manning
, who argued that the rationale for the change was based on a misperception of the name, and George McIlraith
, who did not agree with the manner in which the bill had been passed and urged the government to proceed in a more “dignified way”—but finally passed.
With the granting of Royal Assent
, the name was officially changed to Canada Day on October 27, 1982.
Lobby groups and politicians since have occasionally campaigned to have the holiday named returned to Dominion Day. In 1996, Reform Party of Canada MP Stephen Harper introduced a private member’s bill to reinstate the name. It was defeated. In 2012, Conservative Party of Canada MP Brad Trost made a speech in the House of Commons favouring the reinstatement of the Dominion Day name.