History Blog

How Well do You Know Your History?

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Vande Meulin Group walking across lawn on The Hill
In Search of History…

I belong to a private Facebook group where we are trying to reconnect to family members all over the world.

As new members join, they share the bit of family history that they know. As other closer relatives respond to them, identifying their common bond through that branch of the family tree, there is a palpable joy and excitement to feel connected with one’s kin.

There happens to be some on the European continent, some in central America, some in South America, but most in the Caribbean. 

We hope you will feel similar excitement as you piece together snippets of history which might resonate with you because of your family connections.  

As you become engaged with the information here, if you read anything which links your family’s history, or that of your village, your town, or your province, to Canadian History, we would love to hear from you.

2017 marked the 150th Anniversary of the founding of The Dominion of Canada. It was celebrated as Dominion Day for a long time until it became Canada Day.

When did that practice end, and why? If you were to search the internet with those questions, you will find these answers:

Q: When did Dominion Day become Canada Day?

A: On July 1, 1867, Canada became a self-governing dominion of Great Britain and a federation of four provinces: Nova Scotia; New Brunswick; Ontario; and Quebec. The anniversary of this date was called Dominion Day until 1982. Since 1983, July 1 has been officially known as Canada Day. 

Q: Why do we have Canada Day? 

A: Canada Day, celebrated every year on July 1, is a Canadian federal holiday that celebrates the enactment of the British North America Act of 1867. The act united three colonies into a single country within the British Empire, and named that country The Dominion of Canada. 

Q: What was the Parliamentary process to bring about the change? 

A: A Private Member’s Bill in the House of Commons went through an uneventful procedure based on a small number of MPs in the chamber. 

The Ottawa Citizen Reported: 

At 4 o’clock on Friday, July 9, 1982, the House of Commons was almost empty. The 13 parliamentarians taking up space in the 282-seat chamber were, by most accounts, half asleep as they began Private Members’ Hour. 

But then one of the more wakeful Liberals noticed the Tory MPs were slow to arrive in the chamber. Someone — exactly who has never been firmly identified — remembered Bill C-201, a private member’s bill from Hal Herbert, the Liberal MP from Vaudreuil, that had been gathering dust ever since it had received first reading in May of 1980. “An Act to Amend the Holidays Act” proposed to change the name of the July 1 national holiday from “Dominion Day” to “Canada Day.”[…]

The whole process took five minutes. The MPs celebrated by declaring an early end to session at 4:05 pm. “It is only appropriate that, in celebrating our new holiday called Canada Day, we should at least take a holiday of 55 minutes this afternoon,” said New Democrat Mark Rose.

The Hansard (document of all words spoken in the HOC) reads this way: 

Holidays Act – Suggested Replacement of Dominion Day by Canada Day

Mr. Hal Herbert (Vaudrieul): moved that Bill C-201 to amend the Holidays Act, be read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Labour, Manpower and Immigration.  

Mr Deputy Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt this motion? 

Some Honorable Members: Agreed

Mr Rose: No

Mr Deputy Speaker: Those in favour please say ‘Yea’

Some Honorable Members: Yea!

Mr Deputy Speaker:Those opposed will please say ‘Nay’

Mr Rose: Just this Bill, or what?

Mr Deputy Speaker: In my opinion, the ‘Yeas’ have it..

Mr Baker: (Nepean-Carleton): What is going on?

Mr Deputy Speaker: I declare the…

Mr Smith: I rise on a point of order. Perhaps we could seek the unanimous consent of the House to see if this matter could be dealt with in a Committee of the Whole so that we could deal with all stages of this Bill today as it seems we are meeting with the approval of the House.

Mr Deputy Speaker: I started to declare that this motion was carried. The Honorable Member’s point of order is a little premature. The Chair will now entertain the Parliamentary Secretary to the Privy Council (Mr Smith) on his point of order.

Mr Smith: Mr Chair, perhaps we could see whether the House would be disposed to give unanimous consent to this bill being dealt with in Committee of the Whole today.

Mr Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent that the bill be considered in Committee of the Whole? Is the Honorable Member for Mission-Port Moody (Mr. Rose) rising?

Mr. Rose: I am not rising Mr.. Speaker. 

Mr Deputy Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?

Some Honorable Members: Agreed

Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and House went into Committee thereon – Mr Francis in the Chair.

The Chairman: Order. House in Committee of the Whole on Bill C-201, An Act to Amend the Holidays Act.

Clause 1 Agreed to.

Preamble agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported, read the third time and passed.  

Mr Deputy Speaker: Is it now agreed that we now proceed to another order of business?

Mr. Smith: Mr Speaker, perhaps there might be unanimous consent that the clock now read five o’Clock.

Some Honorable Members: Agreed


Take Action: 

Do you know WHO these MPs were? Some have left lasting legacies. Google their names to find out. Leave a comment below:

  • Hal Herbert (Liberal)
  • Walter Baker (Conservative)
  • Mark Rose (NDP)
  • Cyril Lloyd Francis (Liberal) Deputy Speaker

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