Canada is a country with a long, colorful history. The first people who lived there were members of different First Nation tribes. Sometimes, these people are also called "Aboriginals" or "Native Americans." Europeans discovered Canada more than 1,000 years ago, but they did not return for almost 500 years. The British and the French were the two main European groups to settle in Canada. The British took control of most of Canada when they won a war against France in the 1700s, but many people of French descent stayed in the area. This is why English and French are both official languages in Canada today. Canada belonged completely to the British until 1867. At that point, the British allowed Canada to become its own nation within their empire. The Canadians now had their own government, but they were still loyal to the British king or queen. At first, Canada only included a few provinces-Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec. It now has ten provinces, as well as three territories. Canada is a democracy. This means that the people who live within its borders vote to elect their leaders and are free to live as they choose. Even after Canada became separate from Great Britain its people continued to feel strong ties to their British heritage. They also had a lot in common with the people of the United States. This explains why many of Canada's national holidays are similar to British or American holidays. Of course, Canada also has some important holidays that are completely its own. A few of Canada's main holidays include Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Remembrance Day, and Boxing Day.

Victoria Day

  • Why Is May 24th Known as Victoria Day? -This site explains how Victoria Day started and talks about how Canadians celebrate it.
  • Victoria Day (PPT) -This presentation gives some background information on Queen Victoria of England. It tells viewers when Canadians began celebrating her birthday and talks a bit about Empire Day, another holiday Canadians used to celebrate at the same time of the year as Victoria Day.
  • Biography of Queen Victoria -This page from the British Monarchy website provides information about Queen Victoria's life and family.
  • "The Queen's Birthday in Canada - This article explains why people in Canada celebrate Victoria Day, even though people in the United Kingdom (where Queen Victoria lived) do not. It talks about the important part Queen Victoria played in the history of Canada.

Canada Day

  • Confederation for Kids: How Canada Was Formed- Canadians celebrate Canada Day to remember when their nation first became separate from Great Britain. This article explains how and why Canada was allowed to become an independent nation.
  • Canada Day: Background -A page from the Department of Canadian Heritage website gives a brief history of Canada Day, which used to be called Dominion Day.
  • Canada Day: The Birthday of a Nation - This site gives readers a good idea of why Canadians celebrate Canada Day. It also gives examples of the activities Canadians participate in on this holiday.
  • Canada Day Crafts for Kids -This site offers craft ideas, coloring pages, games, and more for children who are celebrating Canada Day.
  • Canada Day Press Release - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wishes Canadians a happy Canada Day and reminds them of the friendship and values they share with the United States. Canadians celebrate Canada Day only three days before the US celebrates the Fourth of July, and the two countries celebrate these holidays in very similar ways.

Labour Day

  • The First Labour Day -Every year, people in many countries celebrate Labour Day to thank workers for what they do. Labour Day began in Canada, and this page offers an article, a video, and pictures to explain how.
  • Origins of Labour Day -This page tells readers how the movement for workers' rights started in Canada. It explains the events that led to the first Labour Day holiday.
  • Labour Day in Saint John -This site talks about the history of Labour Day in Saint John, New Brunswick and features a few historic photographs of Labour Day celebrations there.
  • Did You Know? (PDF) -This is another short history of how Labour Day came to be in Canada.
  • Labour Day Quiz (PDF) -This 20-question quiz asks some basic questions about the Canadian movement for workers' rights. (It provides the answers at the end!)

Thanksgiving Day

  • Celebrate Thanksgiving - This site from an elementary school in Manitoba has links to information about the history of Canadian Thanksgiving. It also lists links to activities and games that will help kids learn more about the holiday.
  • Thanksgiving: A North American Holiday -This article offers additional facts about how Thanksgiving started in the US and Canada.

Remembrance Day

  • Remembrance Day (Canada) - This gives background information on Remembrance Day and gives examples of what Canadian schoolchildren do to celebrate it.
  • Native Soldiers, Foreign Battlefields - This site talks about the Aboriginal Canadians who fought in Europe in World War I. On Remembrance Day, Canadians think about the sacrifices of these soldiers and millions of others.
  • Remembrance Day Lesson Plan -This page talks about what Remembrance Day (known as Veterans' Day in the United States) is and how people usually celebrate it. It offers ideas for classroom activities.
  • In Flanders Fields -This famous poem from World War I inspired Canadians, the British, and others to wear poppies on Remembrance Day. The author was John McCrae, a Canadian military doctor.

Boxing Day

  • Boxing Day - This page gives a short description of what Boxing Day is and how the holiday may have started.
  • Boxing Day: History and Traditions -This page talks about the history of Boxing Day and how people celebrate it in the United Kingdom. It is useful for Canadians because the British introduced this holiday to Canada before it became its own country.
  • Overview of Boxing Day - This is a short explanation of where and how people celebrate Boxing Day.
  • A Brief History of Boxing Day -This article talks about the possible origins of Boxing Day and mentions how it has become a major shopping day in Canada and Great Britain.
  • Boxing Day in Newfoundland and Labrador -Information on how Canadians celebrate the December holidays, including Boxing Day.