Canada Day commemorates the day that Canada became a nation. The holiday is observed on July 1 (unless that date falls on a Sunday, in which case Canada Day is observed the following day).
On July 1, 1867, the British North America Act united the British colonies of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia into "one dominion under the name of Canada." These four colonies became Canada's first four provinces; Lower Canada was renamed Quebec, and Upper Canada was renamed Ontario.
The July 1 holiday was known as Dominion Day until October 27, 1982, when an act of parliament established the name Canada Day. The new name symbolized a step away from Canada's colonial past. The holiday had also sometimes been known as First of July or Confederation Day. Like Fourth of July festivities in the United States, Canada Day is celebrated with such summer pleasures as picnics, barbeques, and fireworks.
The name Canada derives from an Iroquoian word for "village," kanata, that French explorers heard used to refer to the area near present-day Quebec City. Today, Canada comprises ten provinces and three territories.