History and Origin of Canadian Thanksgiving

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October 2, 2006 by Joseph Krohn

A week from today, The Domionion of Canada will be celebrating Thanksgiving. In Canada Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Unlike the American tradition of remembering Pilgrims and settling in the New World, Canadians give thanks for a successful harvest. The harvest season falls earlier in Canada compared to the United States due to the simple fact that Canada is further north.

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Sir Martin Frobisher, who had been trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. He did not succeed but he did establish a settlement in Northern America. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in what is now called Newfoundland, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving. Other settlers arrived and continued these ceremonies. He was later knighted and had an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Canada named after him – Frobisher Bay.

  • At the same time, French settlers, having crossed the ocean and arrived in Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain, also held huge feasts of thanks. They even formed ‘The Order of Good Cheer’ and gladly shared their food with their Indian neighbours.
  • Days of special Thanksgiving were held every year over the next 350 years of Canadian history. Some special times of Thanksgiving were held as celebrations: 1) For the end of wars (Seven Year’s War, 1763); 2) Some in a request for the continuing of God’s mercy; 3) Some in thanksgiving for the healing of the King from illness

Finally, on January 31st, 1957, Parliament proclaimed…“A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed … to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.”

Much like the United States’ Thanksgiving Day, the Canadian celebration includes parades and festive meals, often including turkey and all the “fixins.” Yet, again, at the heart of the celebration is the idea of giving thanks for the goodness of the season past.

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One thought on “History and Origin of Canadian Thanksgiving

  1. ESTHER says:

    I’m glad someone else in Cincinnati will be celabrating that day!!

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