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Commonwealth Day in Canada – March 13, 2023

Commonwealth Day in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday of March. The aim is to renew the vows of international cooperation, Commonwealth solidarity, and to address the global issues of the more than two billion people that constitute the nations of former British colonies. First observed as Empire Day, the day was later renamed Commonwealth Day. Canada, still a constitutional monarchy, celebrates Commonwealth Day with great enthusiasm. The Royal Union Flag is hoisted at federal establishments, and families gather to hear the message of unity and intercontinental solidarity from the Queen.

History of Commonwealth Day in Canada

The British expansion into Canada was unlike any of their endeavors at the time. To counter the growing French Empire, the British army laid siege to the Great White North — and continued to fight the French expansion for 200 years. As the Empire faced a staunch reckoning from the south, it solidified its roots in the Canadian provinces. After a resounding victory over the French in 1759, the British Empire was primed to blossom in the country, but America’s brewing rebellion was soon noticed by Canadian subjects. The ill-thought, expensive, and burdensome expansion into Canada soon met its final glory, as England granted independence to Canada in 1867.

It is said that the sun never sets on the British Empire, except, it did — 65 times. Out of all the countries emancipated from British rule, 54 have now joined the Commonwealth to express cooperation with the former colonies. The goal of the Commonwealth is to foster international peace and security amongst the members and their neighboring countries.

Canadian author Clementina Trenholme dedicated a day to celebrate the country’s association with the Commonwealth as Empire Day in May 1898. It wasn’t until 1958 that the day got its current name. In 1973, with an official recommendation from the Royal Commonwealth Society of Canada, the observation was moved to the second Monday of March.

Tides have turned against the relics of colonization. The Empire, which once represented prosperity and grandeur, now faces a reckoning from within. As 21st-century Canadians come together to observe Commonwealth Day, they want to send a message of reconciliation, rather than celebration.

Commonwealth Day in Canada timeline

1898
The First Celebration

Canadian Author Clementina Trenholme coins Empire Day on Queen Victoria’s birthday to celebrate the Commonwealth.

1958
The Name Switch

British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan announces the renaming of Empire Day as Commonwealth Day in the parliament.

1973
The New Adoption

Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau moves the Commonwealth Day celebration from May to the second Monday of March

1982
Complete Independence

The Canadian House of Commons and Senate pass the Canada Act to end the last powers that the British Parliament exerted on Canada.

Commonwealth Day in Canada FAQs

Is Canada still ruled by Queen Elizabeth?

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth as its head of state. The country adopted an independent constitution in 1982, and the Queen exercises the ceremonial and operational duties of the Crown.

What is a Commonwealth Realm?

A Commonwealth Realm is a country with a constitutional monarchy. There are 15 countries, including Canada and Australia, that are recognized as Commonwealth Realms.

When did Canada get independence from British Rule?

Although Canada was freed from the direct rule of the Britishers on July 1, 1867, it wasn’t until the Canada Act of 1982, which gave the country its independent status.

How to Observe Commonwealth Day in Canada

  1. Read about the Empire

    There was a time in history when the British monarchy ruled over half a billion people. From the steppes of Ganga to the stretches of Mount Alberta, this great empire has had a hand in the foundation of more than 50 republics. On Commonwealth Day, Canadians must come together to read all about the special place of this magnificent empire in the foundation of their own nation.

  2. Hoist the Union Jack

    The oldest way to mark the celebration of the commonwealth is to hoist the Union Jack along with the Canadian flag. The dual hoisting signifies the special relationship that the Canadians share with the U.K.

  3. Watch the Queen’s address

    Every Commonwealth Day, the Queen addresses the global media and illuminates the spirit of unity, friendship, and solidarity between the members of the Realm. The address is broadcast on B.B.C. Canada at 5 pm U.T.C.

5 Facts About The British Empire In Canada

  1. The Canadian Concession

    The British invaded Canada to curb the expanding supremacy of the French Empire.

  2. The fight for fur

    The British and the French fought many battles to gain control of the fur, fisheries, and wood of North America.

  3. First and Second World Wars

    During both World Wars, Canadian troops and supplies contributed to the war effort.

  4. The royal refuge

    Canada became a battleground for the British-American war of 1812 and served as a refuge for many English loyalists.

  5. The railroad rebellion

    The first rebellion to oust the monarchy was driven by the desire for a railroad system, something the British-French conflict prevented.

Why Commonwealth Day in Canada is Important

  1. A remembrance of shared history

    Commonwealth Day in Canada is observed by over two billion people, standing in unison with their shared history. For Canada, the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birthday highlights the riches of the British Empire, as the majority of Canadians are descendants of European migrants.

  2. It celebrates diversity

    Commonwealth Day in Canada celebrates the uniqueness and diversity of the people of the federation. Interfaith ceremonies and assimilating activities are held by the Royal Commonwealth Society to honor the differences that bring all sovereign nations of the Commonwealth together.

  3. It’s an opportunity for growth

    While many Commonwealths like Australia and Canada are developed countries, most of the former colonies are severely underdeveloped nations with challenging conditions. The trade principles set by Commonwealth experts provide them with opportunities for export and expansion into the global market.

Commonwealth Day in Canada dates

YearDateDay
2022March 14Monday
2023March 13Monday
2024March 11Monday
2025March 10Monday
2026March 9Monday

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