Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is the national day of Canada. A federal statutory holiday, it celebrates the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867 (then called the British North America Act, 1867), which united the three separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.
Originally called Dominion Day (French: Le Jour de la Confédération), the holiday was renamed in 1982, the year the Canada Act was passed. Canada Day celebrations take place throughout the country, as well as in various locations around the world, attended by Canadians living abroad.
Although Canada existed prior to 1867, within both the French and British empires, Canada Day is frequently referred to as “Canada’s birthday”, particularly in the popular press. This is a misnomer, as Canada Day is the anniversary of only one important national milestone on the way to the country’s full independence, namely the joining on July 1, 1867, of the colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada into a wider British federation of four provinces (the colony of Canada being divided into the provinces of Ontario and Quebec upon Confederation). Canada became a “kingdom in its own right” within the British Empire named the Dominion of Canada. Although still a British dominion, Canada gained an increased level of political control and governance over its own affairs, although the British parliament and Cabinet still maintained political control over certain areas such as foreign affairs, national defense, and constitutional changes. Canada gradually gained increasing independence over the years, notably with the passage of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, until finally becoming completely independent with the passing of the 1982 Constitution Act which served to fully patriate the Canadian constitution.
Under the federal Holidays Act, Canada Day is observed on July 1, unless that date falls on a Sunday, in which case July 2 is the statutory holiday. Celebratory events will generally still take place on July 1, even though it is not the legal holiday. If it falls on a Saturday, any businesses normally closed that day will usually dedicate the following Monday (July 3) as a day off.
For more information and fun facts about Canada Day, go to Wikipedia Canada Day.