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  June 04, 2023
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About Canadian Thanksgiving
Origin, History and Traditions of Thanksgiving in Canada


Home > Holiday and Occasions > Canadian Thanksgiving > About

About Thanksgiving in Canada

Thanksgiving in Canada can be traced back to Martin Frobisher in 1578. He came from England in search of a way to get to the Orient by going north. While he never found the passage, he did establish what later became Newfoundland and Labrador. His celebration of making it all the way from England to his new home became the first Thanksgiving in North America. More settlers joined Frobisher, and as the settlements expanded, people continued to celebrate Thanksgiving.

French settlers arrived in Canada, led by Samuel de Champlain, who had their own Thanksgiving feasts. Similar to the Pilgrims first Thanksgiving, the French shared what they had with the Indians who lived in the area.

Over the years, there were various special Thanksgiving celebrations. One was at the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763. The British took possession of New France and celebrations were held in Halifax. At this point, celebrations were not held every year yet.

Thanksgiving finally became a yearly celebration in 1879, however the date was not always the same. Each year people were encouraged to focus on different things for which to be thankful. It varied from the usual abundant harvest to remembering significant events in Canadian history. Some of the themes for different Thanksgiving celebrations were being thankful for God's mercies, victory over enemies, the end of wars, cessation of cholera and other diseases, peace, blessings and most often, abundant harvests.

After the Revolutionary War, many American Colonists left to live in Canada. They brought with them the traditions that had been passed down from the first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims at Plymouths Rock. They brought many of their favorite foods with them, to add to the menu as well.

For some time after WWI, Canadians celebrated Armistice Day and Thanksgiving on the Monday closest to November 11. In 1931 Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day and people began to celebrate them separately. In 1957 Canadian Parliament finally established the second Monday in October to be the official Thanksgiving. Since Canada has an earlier harvest, it only makes sense that Thanksgiving is held earlier in the fall than it is in the United States.

Many of the foods served for Thanksgiving in Canada are quite similar to those served further south in the United States. They also enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes, different vegetable dishes and pumpkin pie. The Europeans introduced the cornucopia to the celebrations as well.

Despite all the changes in the date and why it was celebrated, Thanksgiving in Canada is still about being thankful for all the blessings of the past year and being with family.

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