History of Thanksgiving Day in Canada
On October 12th, Canada will celebrate Thanksgiving Day while the Americans celebrate Columbus Day.
There are general similarities and differences in the observance of Thanksgiving Day between Canada and the United States. Both were started by settlers who had a great big feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest. In America, though, the holiday is specifically tied to the pilgrims who made it through their harsh first winter at Plymouth, MA.
The origins of Canada's Thanksgiving is more diverse. Canada was primarily settled by English and French settlers, and thus two separate traditions were born. The first Canadian Thanksgiving was held in 1579 in New Foundland. It was started by English explorer Martin Frobisher during his time in New Foundland where he helped establish a settlement. The French who settled in Quebec also had a great feast to give thanks called "The Order of Good Cheer". Later on, Americans who remained loyal to England and moved to Canada brought up their own customs, such as eating cornucopia and pumpkin pies.
The modern observance of Thanksgiving Day in Canada began in 1957, when Parliament declared that the second Monday of October will be “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.’’ Prior to that, Thanksgiving was observed on various dates, the two most common being November 11th and the 3rd Monday of October. Canada's Thanksgiving is observed earlier than the American version because in Canada, the harvest season begins earlier than their southern counterparts.
Thanksgiving Day in Canada is a statutory holiday in all provinces except for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
Unlike the American tradition of remembering pilgrims settling in the New World Canadians give thanks for a successful harvest. The harvest season falls earlier in Canada than in the United States.