On 20 June 1868, a proclamation signed by the Governor General, Lord Monck, called upon all Her Majesty's loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada on 1 July 1867.
The 1 July holiday was established by statute in 1879, under the name Dominion Day.
Did you know?
The name Canada is generally accepted as coming from the St. Lawrence Iroquoian word 'kanata', meaning 'village'.
There is little or no record of any organised ceremonies after this first anniversary, except for the naming of new buildings on the 50th and 60th anniversaries.
Since 1958, the government has arranged for an annual observance of Canada's national day with the Secretary of State of Canada in charge of the coordination. The format provided for a Trooping the Colours ceremony on the lawn of Parliament Hill in the afternoon, a sunset ceremony in the evening followed by a mass band concert and fireworks display. The format changed in 1968 with the addition of multicultural and professional concerts.
In 1980, a new formula was developed whereby the federal government sponsored the development of local celebrations all across Canada.
"Seed money" was distributed to promote popular and amateur activities organized by volunteer groups in hundreds of local communities. The same approach was also followed for the 1981 celebrations with the addition of fireworks displays in 15 major cities across the nation.
On 27 October 1982, 1 July which was known as "Dominion Day" became "Canada Day".
Since 1985, Committees have been established in each province and territory to plan, organize and coordinate the Canada Day celebrations locally. Grants are provided by the Department to those committees.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada Day and Memorial Day (Commemoration of the Battle of the Somme) are celebrated on the same day.
If 1 July falls on a Sunday, the holiday is legally observed on July 2.
Source: Canadian Heritage