Dominion Day 1927

July 1st 1927
Program and ribbon.

The first celebration of July 1st in British Columbia happened in Barkerville in 1869, before British Columbia joined Confederation and became a province of Canada. One of the organizers, Robert Carrall, is the least known member of the trio sent to negotiate BC’s entry into Canada, the others being Joseph Trutch and Dr. John Helmcken.

By 1879 British Columbians were unhappy about the failure of Canada to build a promised railway to link BC to Canada. Senator Carrall, who knew he was dying, introduced a private Member’s bill to smooth the waters. Carrall noted that we would always have regional friction but asked that we have one national day to celebrate the creation of Canada. The Dominion Day Act was proclaimed on May 15th 1879. And Dominion Day would remain our national holiday until 1982. That year, as part of clearing the air of old colonial ideas by patriating our constitution, it officially became the name already in common use — Canada Day.

The fiftieth anniversary of Canada fell during World War One’s tremendous loss of life and received minimal attention from a nation at war. So the 1927 Diamond Jubilee, the 60th anniversary, became a major event. It included Canada’s first national radio broadcast, linking radio stations coast-to-coast to broadcast speeches and the ringing in of the 53 bells in the new Peace Tower on Parliament Hill. A transcontinental Confederation train went from Halifax to Vancouver, festooned with banners. A call went out asking communities to consider making historic floats for parades on an historical theme. Every community large and small (including Ocean Falls where this program is from) held its own celebrations.

Forty years later, for the 1967 Centennial, Stuart Ash designed a distinctive geometric maple leaf logo. The triangles represent the provinces and territories. That summer many BC families went on a cross-country road trip, stopping in Montreal to see Expo ’67.

Here are a few images and objects from our collections showing British Columbian communities celebrating our national holiday, July 1st.

Images in order:
1. Ocean Falls; tenth annual Dominion Day celebration. July 1st 1927. BCA I-61873.
2.”Dominion Day Celebration program; Hastings Mill, Burrard Inlet, July 1st 1876. BCA E-02732
3. Group in front of the Colonial Hotel, New Westminster, July 1st 1878. BCA F-04358.
4. “Nelson, BC; Horse Race, July 1st, 1898.” BCA C-07825.
5. “Dominion Day parade floats, Prince Rupert” July 1st 1914. BCA B-03760.
6. Dominion Day parade floats, Courtenay, July 1st 1927. BCA F-08673.
7. Tin tray produced for the Diamond Jubilee of Canada, 1927. RBCM 971.61.948.
8. In 1967 British Columbia issued these Canadian Pioneer medals. RBCM 984.50.1a
9. If you were in school in 1967 did you receive one of these brass medallions? RBCM 983.7.7
10.Decal, 1967 Centennial. Was this on your family’s car bumper? RBCM 984.25.6.

This object selected by Dr. Lorne Hammond, Curator of History.