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Somewhat of a mystery to those who may be visiting Canada during the first week of July, Canada Day can be a little intimidating. Most travelers may be aware of the fact that they’re visiting Canada during one of its major annual celebrations, but a business traveller, who’s schedule just happened to place her/him within Canada at the time may find Canada Day a bit more intimidating.
Don’t stay cooped up in your room while everyone else dons red and white to have a good time. Even if you’re not from Canada, you’re welcome to join in all of the Canada Day festivities. So you’re familiar with the holiday and its various celebrations, read a quick rundown of what Canada Day is and what to expect below.
No one is going to be giving you a random history quiz when you’re out and about enjoying Canada Day, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know the historical roots of the national holiday, just for context.
Canada Day officially celebrates Canada becoming a self-governing dominion (or colony) of Great Britain, which occurred on July 1, 1867. Back then, four provinces (New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Quebec) made up Canada at the time. Again, the exact dates + details aren’t that important, just know that Canada Day is kinda like Canada’s birthday party, which is why people get excited.
Just so you know, and can prepare accordingly, Canada Day is a federally recognized holiday, meaning most major organizations, business, stores, and government services are closed on the date. Certain amenities (pharmacies, gas stations, restaurants) may stay open, but they’re the exception to the rule.
This year, Canada Day falls mid-week on Wednesday, July 1. So, if you have any important snail mail to send or need to go into a government office for whatever reason, you should plan ahead and get your errands done earlier in the week.
Nothing is set-in-stone when it comes to Canada Day preparations, but to get in the spirit and show some love to Canada, there are some ways you can prepare. First, try and wear some red and white, the national colours of Canada. Feel free to go as far as face paint, or just rock a Canadian flag, it’s really up to you.
Business travellers may want to read up on ‘Oh, Canada,’ the national anthem. Again, no need to memorize the whole song, but just be somewhat aware of how the tune goes, that way you’re a bit more prepared for when it’s sung, which will definitely happen at some point, no matter what celebration you’re attending.
Anywhere in Canada, from the Maritimes to the West Coast, you’ll be able to find some form of outdoor Canada celebration/festival. If you’re in a big city like Toronto, then the party is usually centered downtown, though it does vary city to city. Even smaller towns will still have some major festivities, so expect a party wherever you are in Canada. Your best bet is to check the webpage of whichever municipality you happen to be staying in, as they’ll definitely have information on the local Canada Day celebration.
Another celebratory aspect you can expect across Canada is fireworks. Without a doubt, once the sun sets, you will see the sky light up with colour. Canada Day fireworks shows are a tradition and provide a nice end to the day’s festivities.
Whereas the rest of Canada uses the day off to celebrate the nation’s birthday, in Quebec, Canada Day is very different. Essentially, a large majority of leases in Quebec end on July 1st, meaning that most people use the day off to move apartments rather than celebrate Canada Day. So if you’re in Quebec on July 1st, don’t expect a celebration in the slightest.
Again, no matter where you are in Canada (outside of Quebec, that is) you’ll find a fun Canada day party to attend. But nowhere in Canada goes as hard on Canada Day as Ottawa. Multitudes of people gather on Parliament Hill for a day-long celebration that goes well into the evening. If you happen to be near the Ottawa area, you should definitely make the trip. For some more details head here.
Happy Canada Day!