The Canadian Thanksgiving Day came about because of a combination of
traditions. Before the first Europeans arrived in North America, the farmers in
Europe held celebrations at harvest time. The farm workers filled a curved
goat's horn with fruit and grain to give thanks for their harvest having been a
good one. This horn was called a Horn of Plenty.....or a Cornucopia, and the
farm workers who started a new life in Canada took this tradition with them.
In Newfoundland in 1578, the English navigator Martin Frobisher held a
ceremony to give thanks for surviving the long journey. He was later knighted
and had an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in Northern Canada named after
him.....Frobisher Bay. As other settlers arrived they continued these
In 1621, in what is now the United States of America, the
Pilgrims celebrated their harvest in the New World. By the 1750's settlers
moving to Canada from America had taken this celebration to Nova Scotia. At the
same time, French settlers arriving in Canada with the explorer Samuel de
Champlain held thanksgiving feasts and shared their food with their Indian
neighbours. After the seven years war ended in 1763 the citizens of Halifax held
a special day of Thanksgiving.
At the time of the American Revolution,
the people who remained loyal to the Government in England moved to Canada and
spread the Thanksgiving celebration to other parts of the country. Other English
settlers were also used to having a harvest celebration in their churches every
In 1879 the Canadian Parliament declared the 6th November as a
day of Thanksgiving and a national holiday. Over the years the date has changed
with the third Monday in October being the most popular time. Finally on the
31st January 1957 the Canadian Parliament proclaimed that....
'A Day of
General Thanksgiving to Almighty God
for the bountiful harvest with which
been blessed.....to be observed on the second Monday in October.'