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The Heritage Trails are presented courtesy of CKUA Radio Network and Cheryl Croucher

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Dominion Day Celebrations

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From the beginning of Confederation, July 1st was marked by a variety of celebrations. And, as historian Don Wetherall points out, Dominion Day festivities were common throughout the 1880s in Calgary, Medicine Hat, Fort Macleod, and Edmonton.

Well, usually there would be team sports, often a baseball game. Almost always there were horse races, foot races and a dance in the evening. And as well, many men found it an occasion to drink a lot of liquor.

By the early 1900s, Dominion Day was becoming more consciously patriotic, as well as a day for family outings.

The old pleasures of horse racing, drinking, sports and a dance remained important but, as well, now often there was a street parade and a patriotic program at the fair grounds or some other public area. And there would be speeches and a flag raising ceremony and often a historical pageant. And these things were put on by local organizations such as the Canadian Club.
By the 1920s, greater mobility had given people additional options on Canada Day. And a family trip to the lake was becoming a possibility for those with cars.

Following the First World War, there was an upwelling in national pride. And this fuelled the very special preparations made to mark the 60th anniversary of Confederation in 1927.

The provincial government established a committee of prominent political and civic and other figures to plan events in the province. And the committee members had a lot of ideas. And they were especially concerned about assuring how Canada Day could promote the assimilation of non-British Canadians. But, in the end, the 1927 celebrations were left largely in local hands.
Many towns and cities put on especially impressive events for the 1927 celebrations. And, as well, a national plan, which involved the cooperation of the federal and provincial governments and a number of Canadian corporations, put on Canada's first transcontinental radio broadcast. And that was a fitting symbol for the end of one era and the beginning of another.

The citizens of Vegreville marked the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation with a pageant centred around Miss Canada.

On the Heritage Trail,

I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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