Canadian Heritage Day 2016 is February 20
Canada, the world’s second largest country, on the basis of land area, occupies nearly the entire Northern part of North America, stretching from Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northwards into the Arctic Ocean. Since time immemorial, the area covered by Canada, was variously occupied by the aboriginal tribes. During the 15th century the Europeans in the guise of the British and French came along and slowly settled along the Atlantic coast.
Each type of peoples left an indelible impression on the Canadian landscape and today what we know as Canada is an amalgamation of the various cultures that have lived and flourished here.
To celebrate, this Heritage of Canada, the third Monday of February, is earmarked as Heritage Day. The essence of Heritage Day is to promote, create awareness, and preserve the architectural, natural and historic culture of Canada.
The Department of Canadian Heritage in tandem with the National Museums, National Library and Archives and other interested groups across Canada has initiated a series of programs to create awareness and promotion of Canada’s multi dimensional heritage.
The concept of a Heritage Day came into being in 1973 and the third Monday of February, though not a national holiday is celebrated as Heritage Day.
The Inuit, Métis and the peoples of First Nations have forever been settled in Canada and represent the ancient heritage of Canada. Archeological findings also support the presence of humans as long as 26,500 years ago. The Vikings came in AD 1000, but the colony did not flourish and further attempts at colonization were limited. In 1497 John Cabot from England explored Canadian’s Atlantic Coast, followed closely by Jacques Cartier from France in 1534. Samuel de Champlain settled the first permanent colony at Port Royal in 1605 and in Quebec in 1608. The invasion of theEuropeans had begun and slowly they explored further territories and established settlements. The major presence of the French and the British resulted in the Constitutional Act of 1791 which cleaved the province into French speaking Lower Canada and >English speaking Upper Canada each with its independent Legislative Assembly.
In 1867 another Constitutional Act, enabled the formation of a single Province Canada on July 1, 1867, with four provinces Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.
The Heritage Canada Foundation, a national organization was established in 1973 and in the words of its founder the Honorable Jean Chrétien “Maturity maybe recognized in a nation when its peoples think thought for their past, take thought….. in the dynamic sense of knowing the past as a key to understanding the past and the future”
On Canadian Heritage Day, volunteers across the various provinces help to preserve, rehabilitate, and learn of their common cultures and the fascinating history they share. Many communities include elaborate celebrations which continue even up to a month, recognizing and reveling in their historic architectural structures, collections, social history and the natural scenic landscapes. Most celebrations include teachers and heritage resources so that they can inculcate in their wards, since a tender age the love and pride of their unique heritage.
The agenda is the architectural buildings and structures, many of which have iconic status. In accordance with this issue the Heritage CanadaFoundation is commemorating Heritage and the Environment: Saving Places Built to Last. A wide range of resources are being made available to communities across Canada to preserve and utilize these architectural wonders. The program will focus on the green credibility of historic buildings; create awareness of their ecological and environmental capability and the tools required to save heritage buildings. The program will further educate the public on sustainable development and how indiscriminate construction results in environmental degradation.
There will be a blitzkrieg of events, promotions, seminars, lectures, and reports on how to save old buildings, their preservation and also maintenance. The beauty and functional aspects of heritage structures, reusing industrial heritage, economic development, preserving the environment with heritage structures, will all be covered.
In 2008 Heritage day celebrations centered on the theme: Work that endures –Careers in Built Heritage, which spotlighted the lives and work of Canadians who are involved in the preservation and promotion of Heritage structures. Luminaries who were featured were Jean Francois, master-plasterer, Tania Martin, associate professor of theSchool of Architecture, Steve Barber, Heritage planner and many others whose work is vital to Heritage preservation.
The theme for the year 2007: Places for People-Our Heritage of the each day. Towards this end the Heritage Canada Foundation identified buildings peculiar to a place and the communities that reside there. Vernacular heritage means structures that are developed over time to suit the culture and needs of different peoples. Canada is home to a rich vernacular heritage that too requires conservation and rehabilitation.
2006 celebrated Our Cultural Heritage Places.
2005 laid emphasis on the diverse faiths being practiced in Canada in the Heritage of Faith Youth Page.
2004 was Defending Canada Youth page.
2003 celebrated Heritage of our Town Youth page.
2002 was Industry and Innovation Youth page.
2001 celebrated Heritage of Transportation Youth page.
Canadian Heritage Day Celebrations are an innovative manner of educating youth and adults about the varied cultures and influences that have shaped Canada. People across the lines have been instrumental in adding their bit to save heritage and glorify it.