Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster in Canada Date in the current year: December 11, 2024

Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster in Canada The anniversary of the Statute of Westminster is a Canadian observance celebrated annually on December 11 to commemorate the day when the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire, including Canada, became largely sovereign nations in their own right.

The first European to set foot in what is now Canada was Italian navigator and explorer John Cabot. The exact location of the site of his landing, which occurred on June 24, 1497, has been disputed, but the official tradition claims that he landed at Cape Bonavista, Newfoundland.

The first outposts in Canada were established by the Portuguese, but they were abandoned when Portugal focused its colonization efforts on South America. The first European power to establish a permanent colony in Canada was France; Britain followed suit several decades after that. After the defeat of France in the Seven Years’ War and the signing of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, most of France’s possessions in North America were incorporated into the British Empire.

Following the signing of the Treaty of Paris, King George III issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which established the province of Quebec, annexed Cape Breton Island to Nova Scotia, and created a temporary boundary between British colonies and Native American lands. The Constitutional Act of 1791 established the provinces of Lower Canada and Upper Canada, known collectively as the Canadas.

The Canadas were merged into a single political entity, the Province of Canada, by the Act of Union 1840. However, the merger was ultimately unsuccessful because it didn’t help to ease the tensions between primarily French-speaking Canada East (former Lower Canada, future Quebec) and primarily English-speaking Canada West (former Upper Canada, future Ontario).

In 1867, the Province of Canada was united with the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to form the Canadian Confederation. The anniversary of its formation is celebrated as the national day of Canada (Canada Day, formerly known as Dominion Day). It wasn’t the Canada that we have now, but it was its beginning.

The self-governing colonies of the British Empire, which included Canada, were known as the Dominions. Despite their right for self-government, the British parliament had considerable legislative authority of the Dominions. The situation was changed by the Statute of Westminster 1931, which increased the sovereignty of the Dominions, giving them legal autonomy and making them essentially sovereign nations in their own right. However, at Canada’s request, the British parliament retained the power to amend the constitution of Canada for five more decades after the enactment of the Statute.

The anniversary of the Statute of Westminster is celebrated in Canada every year, but it is not a public holiday, which means that government offices, educational establishments, banks, and businesses remain open unless December 11 falls on a weekend. To celebrate the day, the national flag of Canada and the Royal Union Flag, commonly referred to as the Union Jack, are flown side by side on federal buildings and establishments from sunrise to sunset.

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