Canalien Presents: A Short History of Thanksgiving

October 11, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving Canaliens! In honour of Canadian Turkey Day, here's a short history of how this day came to be. 

Feasts of thanks can be traced all the way back to British explorers in 1578. Basically, they were so ecstatic that they survived the dangerous trek across the Atlantic and hadn't yet frozen to death on Baffin Island that they stuffed their faces.1

Devlin in Collingwood

 Exploring in our Go-To Tee

In 1604, Samuel de Champlain arrived in New France (present day Nova Scotia) and created the "Order of Good Cheer,"2 which was basically a large feast between settlers and First Nations where each attendee took turns hosting and cooking the meal. 

This is where things get complicated. For the next 300 years, Thanksgiving Day hopped around on the calendar and was usually a feast celebrating the end of a war. Halifax was the first to celebrate after the Seven Years' War ended in 1763.

Ironically, the Atlantic provinces, including Nova Scotia, are the only provinces where this holiday is optional! After the American Revolution, Americans who remained loyal to Britain brought their Thanksgiving traditions to Canada including the tradition of eating turkey and pumpkin pie (thanks America!). 

In the late 19th century, Thanksgiving Day was always in November and was THEMED! After World War I in 1921, Thanksgiving and Armistice Day were announced to both take place the week of November 11th, but in 1931, the holidays became separate with Thanksgiving moving to the 2nd Monday in October and the latter was renamed Remembrance Day.3 

Devlin in Clarksburg

 Exploring before feasting just like Samuel de Champlain

But the most important point is... why are you still reading this and not eating and giving thanks?! Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day filled with family, friends and great food!

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