July 1, 1983 – The First Canada Day!

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Yousef Karsh, [Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh], 1984

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Yousef Karsh, [Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip with their grandchildren], 1987

In 1867, politicians debated whether to call this newly forged country The Kingdom of Canada. John A. MacDonald, leader of the Canadian parliament and Lord Derby, British Foreign Secretary, deemed the phrase too provocative for the antimonarchial Americans of that time. Lord Derby supposedly claimed that “it would wound the sensibilities of the Yankees.” The politicians settled on The Dominion of Canada.

Debate continued about whether the term “dominion” meant that Canada held dominion from sea to sea or whether it referred to its colonial status under British rule. Although the term was phased out in the 1950s and 60s, the constitution was not repatriated until 1981 when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau finally succeeded in reform that would give Canada an independent constitution – 114 years after confederation. In addition to the constitutional changes, bills were passed to change what was once called Dominion Day to Canada Day and, in October 1982, it finally became the official name of the holiday.

However, debate still continues about whether or not the current monarchy accurately reflects modern Canada. It’s argued that a British-linked monarchy identified with colonial conquest is an inappropriate symbol for a country that is largely identified by its French and First Nations people and its increasing multiethnic, multiracial, and multireligious populations.

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