July 1 is Canada Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the British North America Act, an agreement signed in 1867 that consolidated the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada into a single nation. Festivities for this holiday abound throughout Canada, from parades and free giveaways to fireworks and other events. Here's a quick guide for this historic holiday.
Although Canada Day celebrates a signing that occurred in 1867, the holiday wasn't made official until 1982. Still, festivities occurred on July 1 long before then, according to the official history. According to Mental Floss, the celebrations truly began taking root in 1967, on the 100th anniversary of the signing.
This year, downtown Ottawa is celebrating with a flag-raising ceremony on Parliament Hill, followed by a changing of the guard and a carillon concert. There's also speeches, performances, swing dancing and fireworks scheduled between noon and 10 p.m. Major's Hill Park in Ottawa will feature several historical exhibits as well activities such as a trivia challenge. Several other parks and centers have performances and lectures on July 1.
For those celebrating in Calgary, there are free pancakes for the first 2,015 guests to arrive at Heritage Park before 10:30 a.m. There will also be a parade and various competitions throughout the day, and visitors or locals alike can scour other parts of the downtown area for food trucks, tai chi, dancing, concerts, beer tasting and even a horse race. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police also has a group called the Musical Ride, which performs drills--choreographed to music--in locations all over the country.
For a list of fireworks shows from Calgary to Halifax to Montreal and Victoria, check out this list. And of course, you don't have to attend a formal event in order to celebrate the holiday--throwing a barbecue can be an ideal way to celebrate. One site also recommends visiting local breweries, which will often offer free tours, with samples.