Dominion Day - Origin and special observance

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Proclamation requiring celebration of July 1st

On June 20, 1868, a proclamation issued by the governor general, Lord Monck, enjoined and called upon all of Her Majesty Queen Victoria's subjects throughout Canada to join in the celebration of the Anniversary of the formation of the Dominion of Canada on the 1st of July, 1868. This proclamation, a copy of which is attached, was published in the Canada Gazette on Saturday, June 20, 1868.

Act respecting Dominion Day, 1879

On May 15, 1879, Royal Assent was given to An Act to make the first day of July a Public Holiday by the name of Dominion Day (House of Commons Debates, 1879, Vol.II, p. 2047).

Attached is a copy of the Act of 1879 as printed in the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1886, Chapter III.

Also attached is a brief extract from newspaper reports indicating that citizens left Ottawa, Toronto and Quebec City on July 1, 1879 and there were no public ceremonies.

Proclamation respecting the celebration of the 50th Anniversary

On June 16, 1917, the governor general, the Duke of Devonshire, issued a proclamation appointing Monday the 2nd Day of July 1917 for the special celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Confederation. A copy of this proclamation is attached.

Attached is a memorandum of reports in the Press of events on Parliament Hill and at Westminster Abbey on Monday, July 2, 1917.

Diamond Jubilee of Confederation Act, 1927-Incorporation of the National Committee

On February 18, 1927, Royal Assent was given to an act to incorporate a National Committee for the celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation - 17 George V, Chap. 6. This Act is entitled the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation Act, 1927.

The Committee, called the Corporation comprised about seventy persons including the governor general and his wife, the lieutenant governors of the provinces, the Prime Minister of Canada and 7 members of the Cabinet (but not the Secretary of State), the Chief Justice, several privy councillors including the former prime minister, the speakers of both Houses, the Leader of the Opposition, the premiers of all the provinces, several senators and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, the Clerk of the Privy Council, the Under Secretary of State, the Dominion Archivist, the Under Secretary of State for External Affairs and the heads of a number of organizations such as the National Council of Women, the Trades and Labour Congress, the United Farmers of Alberta, I.O.D.E., Bar Association, the National Battlefields Commission, the Canadian Legion, etc.

The objects of the Corporation were to make and carry out necessary arrangements in cooperation with the provinces and other bodies for an effective celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the formation of the Dominion of Canada, and to administer and distribute a grant of $250,000. The affairs of the corporation were administered by an executive committee; the Secretary of State of Canada convened the first meeting of this committee.

1927 Celebration across Canada

The National Committee issued a booklet entitled "Order of Proceedings" for national thanksgiving by the people of Canada for Sunday, July 3, as a suggestion for local committees across Canada for a public religious ceremony at 2:30 pm in each local time zone under the direction of the lieutenant-governor or mayor or other senior person in the community. The Prime Minister, the Right Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King, who was a Presbyterian, had edited this booklet; it was found to be not acceptable for Roman Catholic usage.

The Committee issued a 48-page pamphlet, illustrated in colour, containing suggestions for historical pageants, floats and tableaux for the guidance bibliography of Canadian history.

1927 Ottawa Confederation

The National Committee organized the program of national celebration at Ottawa which began at 11 am on Friday July 1, 1927 with the laying of the cornerstone by the governor General of the Confederation Building at the corner of Bank and Wellington Streets, and continued with the inauguration of the Carillon in the Peace Tower, the planting of the Confederation maple trees on Parliament Hill and, in the afternoon, addresses by the governor general, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and descendants of fathers of Confederation interspersed with public singing lead by a centenary choir and schoolchildren. There was a very large dinner given by the National Committee in the Parliament buildings in the evening of July 1st preceded by a historical pageant parade.

Extracts from The Canada Gazette and the Citizen on Dominion Day.

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