Unlike the American tradition of remembering Pilgrims settling in the New World, Canadians give thanks for a successful harvest. The harvest season falls earlier in Canada compared to the United States due to the simple fact that Canada is further north.
The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher, whose aim was to find a northern passage to Asia. He did not succeed but he did establish an English settlement in North America. In the year 1578, he held a formal ceremony, in the province known today as Newfoundland, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving. In the ensuing decades, other settlers arrived and continued these ceremonies. Forbisher was later knighted and had an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean in northern Canada named after him: Frobisher Bay.
At around the same period, French explorers who settled in eastern Canada also held huge feasts of thanks - celebrations that were first observed by French explorer Samuel de Champlain. These Frenchmen formed an organization called 'The Order of Good Cheer' (L'Ordre de Bon Temps) with autumn feasts, theatre performances, dances and celebrations designed to celebrate New France and its many bounties.
Canadians today enjoy their Thanksgiving dinner on either the Sunday, as we do, or on Thanksgiving Monday, which is a statutory holiday. Below are some photos of our celebration on Sunday at my parents' house. Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!
Everyone gathers around the dining room table for a big, hearty meal.
Most people can't stand them, but my grandmother loves her brussels sprouts and helps herself to a steaming spoonful.
Apple and pumpkin pies baked by my grandmother.
After dinner, my nephew put on a puppet show for us. He made the set and the puppets and called the show "My Crazy Thanksgiving." It involved a pizza delivery man, a French chauffeur, a postman and a turkey that ran away with the spoon.