Monday, October 11, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving! Canadian Style

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Happy Thanksgiving!

The second Monday of October is Thanksgiving in Canada, but since most of us have work or school today, we marked the occasion on Saturday. I have a hard time picking favorites, but I think Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday. After all, our family celebrates at least twice each year! Here's some background to the Canadian version of Thanksgiving.

The second Monday of October has been the official date for Thanksgiving since January 31, 1957, when 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.
Earlier, in 1879, Parliament had declared November 6th as a day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday. Over the years, many dates were used for Thanksgiving but a Monday in October was generally the most popular choice. After WWI, Armistice Day and Thanksgiving were both celebrated on the Monday of the week in which November 11th occurred. Then in 1931, the two holidays were observed separately as Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day (which Americans observe as Veterans Day). And finally, thanks to that proclamation in 1957, Thanksgiving Day has been established in October.

Historians believe the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated in what is now the province of Newfoundland, in 1578. The English explorer Martin Frobisher celebrated his expedition's safe arrival after the long journey across the Atlantic Ocean with a formal ceremony. Then they pressed on westward, in search of a Northwest Passage to the Orient.

Another historical Thanksgiving celebration in Canada took place just a few years before the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in what would become the United States (which was in 1621). French settlers who had come to Canada with explorer Samuel de Champlain held huge feasts to give thanks for their safe arrival. During the winter of 1606-1607, they formed "The Order of Good Cheer"a society to provide good food and good times to keep up the morale of the men during that long winter. Members took a turn at being "Chief Steward" and being responsible to see that everyone at the table was well provided for. The duties were taken very seriously. Hunting and fishing provided meat to the banquet, and the Stewards presented each dish with a good deal of pomp and ceremony. At the end of the day, the Chief Steward would present the collar of the Order and a cup of wine to his successor, and they would toast each other before closing with a prayer of thanks to God. Chiefs and members of the local native tribes were frequent honored guests.

From the High School Lesson Book - History Lesson: Thanksgiving in Canada on Homeschool Coffee Break @
Samuel de Champlain

After the Seven Year's War ended in 1763, The people of Halifax, Nova Scotia, held a special day of Thanksgiving to mark the end of the Seven Year's War in 1763. And as more settlers arrived in Canada from France, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, and other European countries, they brought their harvest celebration traditions to add to the mix. United Empire Loyalists who came to Canada during the time of the American Revolution also brought some of their traditions with them, including the turkey dinner.

From the High School Lesson Book - History Lesson: Thanksgiving in Canada on Homeschool Coffee Break @

So that means a traditional Thanksgiving feast in Canada will most likely feature turkey, and most of the other dishes that are usually associated with a traditional Thanksgiving meal in the United States. Since Thanksgiving is a favorite time for families to get together, meals might include dishes from the family's ethnic heritage. 

My own family has made it a tradition to have a deep fried turkey for Thanksgiving. We usually have the kind of outdoor weather to make this quite pleasant in October, but at the end of November that might not be the case! The rest of the meal is usually similar to the American 'turkey with all the trimmings' feast. This year we did things slightly differently and had roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as a classic Canadian dish - poutine! Our desserts were more Canadian - butter tarts and Nanaimo bars. 


We love poutine and it's simple to make! Find out more about the Canadian take on fries and gravy in Eating the Americas - Poutine.

Recipes from Around the World (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Find out how to make delicious butter tarts in my post Canada Day Butter Tarts.
Canada Day Butter Tarts on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Find out how to make the decadent three-layer dessert bar in Eating the Americas - Nanaimo Bars.

Nanaimo Bars recipe

Just like our American neighbors, Canadians love to take in a football game on Thanksgiving Day. Many of us enjoy the Canadian Football League's Thanksgiving Day Classic. Hubby and I watched a matchup between our two favorite teams on Saturday evening - and my team won, so he's not talking much about the game! We will check tonight to see who's playing in the Thanksgiving Day Classic though.

From the High School Lesson Book - History Lesson: Thanksgiving in Canada on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Want to learn about American holidays, like Columbus Day? has History of Holidays in America.

history of holidays in USA

Or more about Canada? Check out the Everyday Explorers - Canada unit at

Today is the last day of this great fall sale at Sign up for the Ultimate Quarterly Membership at pay only $35 (savings of 30%!) when you use the code HOME at checkout. You'll also receive a FREE Hey, Mama Bear! Tote and really, a bear is a pretty Canadian image too.


What is your favorite holiday? Leave a comment and let me know!

The original version of this article appeared on Homeschool Coffee Break on October 10, 2016: From the High School Lesson Book - History Lesson: Thanksgiving in Canada

From the High School Lesson Book - History Lesson: Thanksgiving in Canada on Homeschool Coffee Break @

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Joanne said...

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. It sounds like you had a delicious celebration.

Annette said...

my fellows would have LOVED Canadian thanksgiving at your place with those desserts served. :)

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