Marie Birkbeck

Contrary to what many of us have been led to believe over the year, Canada did not adopt the Thanksgiving celebrations from USA.

The first Thanksgiving in North America actually took place in Canada in 1587, forty-three years before the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth Massachusetts, when English explorer Martin Frobisher landed in Newfoundland and had a celebration to give thanks for his safe arrival in the New World!

The first American harvest feast shared by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony in 1621, is documented in a letter home by an English attendee at the celebration.

For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving did not have a specific date set aside, but was celebrated in either late October or early November.

In 1863 US President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. November 6 was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday.

On January 31, 1957, Canadian Parliament announced that Thanksgiving would be "a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed and was being moved to the second Monday in October because after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week. This year Canadian Thanksgiving is October 9th

Another reason that Canadian Thanksgiving is earlier than American Thanksgiving, is that Canada is geographically further north than the United States, causing the Canadian harvest season to arrive earlier than the American harvest season.

Since Thanksgiving for Canadians is more about giving thanks for the harvest season than the arrival of pilgrims, it makes sense to celebrate the holiday in October.

In 2016, Canadians consumed 154.4 million kilograms Mkg of turkey or 4.3 kilograms (more than ten pounds) per capita.

About 40 per cent of all whole turkeys purchased in Canada in 2016 were for Thanksgiving.