MP Report – What happened in 1931?

October 24, 2017

Following the Great War in 1919, the Parliament of Canada, like other countries of the British Empire, passed legislation to mark November 11th as Armistice Day.

The day was to celebrate the Allied victory in the First World War but quickly became a day of remembrance to those who had died in WWI and conflicts before.

Many Canadians are not aware of a campaign that started in 1928, by many veterans and their families, to change the date of Thanksgiving Day.

At the time, Thanksgiving was celebrated on the second Monday in November and this put the two occasions on the same date much of the time.  Activities of remembrance often conflicted with the celebration of Thanksgiving.

In 1931, Parliament decreed that Armistice Day would become known as Remembrance Day and be marked on November 11th every year.  It also changed the occasion from one celebrating the political and military successes that lead to victory in WWI to instead focus on the memory and sacrifices of those who served and died in defence of our nation.

At the same time, they decreed that Thanksgiving would be moved to the second Monday in October.  In the United States, Thanksgiving is still celebrated in November and they conduct their remembrance activities during the Memorial Day weekend in May.

Early ceremonies were observed primarily within the military community but with the passage of time it has become an occasion for the general population to show appreciation and remembrance for those who made Canada what it is today.

This November 11th, Canadians will again pause to remember those who bravely volunteered at great risk to serve Canada, to go abroad to fight hate and oppression and to protect our peaceful nation.  Lest we forget.