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Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada), formerly Dominion Day (French: Le Jour de la Confédération), is the national day of Canada, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the British North America Act (today called the Constitution Act, 1867), which united three British colonies into a single country, called Canada, within the British Empire. Originally called Dominion Day, the name was changed in 1982, the year that Canada gained full independence from the United Kingdom. Canada Day observances take place throughout Canada as well as internationally.
Frequently referred to as "Canada's birthday", particularly in the popular press, the occasion marks the joining of the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) on July 1, 1867. Canada became a kingdom in its own right on that date,[n 1] but the British Parliament kept limited rights of political control over the new country that were shed by stages over the years until the last vestiges were surrendered in 1982 when the Constitution Act patriated the Canadian constitution.[n 2]
Under the federal Holidays Act, Canada Day is observed on July 1 unless that date falls on a Sunday, in which case July 2 is the statutory holiday, although celebratory events generally take place on July 1 even though it is not the legal holiday. If it falls on a Saturday, the following Monday is generally also a day off for those businesses ordinarily closed on Saturdays.
The International Freedom Festival is a multi-day celebration in early July marking Canada Day on July 1 and the American Independence Day on July 4. Detroit, Michigan, USA and Windsor, Ontario, Canada jointly celebrate the multi-day festival which draws about 3.5 million visitors. The International Freedom Festival began in 1959. It was organized by the Parade Company, a not-for-profit organization governed by the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation.
Beginning in 2007, the Festival became two separate events, Windsor Summer Fest, and Detroit River Days.
Summer Fest is a 19 day festival, which takes place along the scenic riverfront in Windsor Ontario. This festival is a perennial favourite for the entire family, offering something for all ages, and stages. Over the years more than 500,000 people have come out annually to enjoy the many activities, and attractions which run in conjunction with Summer Fest.
The Detroit RiverFront Conservancy began the River Days festival in June 2007 to introduce the community and visitors to the transformed Detroit International Riverfront. The festival marked the opening of significant portions of the new Detroit RiverWalk and the festival has continued each year to spotlight the magnificent resources and this new destination in the city of Detroit.
The highlight of both festivals is the fireworks display in celebration of the United States' Fourth of July and Canada's Canada Day. It is one of the largest and most spectacular fire work displays in North America, lighting up the sky over Windsor and Detroit. This annual spectacle draws more than 1,000,000 to the Windsor and Detroit river fronts. It is usually held on the monday shared by both festivals.