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Home > Calendar > Holidays > Canada > Memorial Day

Memorial Day in Canada

Quick Facts

Memorial Day is observed in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, on July 1 each year.

Local names

NameLanguage
Memorial DayEnglish
commémoratifFrench

Memorial Day 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Memorial Day 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015
List of dates for other years

Memorial Day is observed together with Canada Day in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador on July 1 each year. Memorial Day commemorates the brave efforts of the province’s veterans, particularly those who participated in World War I.

1st World War trench / battlefield site from1914~18 the Somme France
Pictured above is what remains of a World War I trench in the former frontline from the Battle of the Somme at Beaumont-Hammel in northern France. ©iStockphoto.com/mick smith

What do people do?

Memorial Day coincides with Canada Day celebrations, which are festive and joyous. However, many people in Newfoundland and Labrador take a moment, particularly early in the day, to remember the contributions made by the province’s veterans, particularly those who served and those died during World War I.

Events to mark Memorial Day include wreath laying ceremonies at memorials. Community and political leaders are often seen at these events and may give speeches to inform people about the day’s importance. Memorial Day has been observed at the National War Memorial in the city of St John’s in recent years. The Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack, may be seen flying at half staff on Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Public life

Memorial Day falls on the same day as Canada Day, which is a national public holiday in Canada. Government offices, post offices, educational institutions and many businesses are closed. Some stores, pharmacies, and gas stations may be open.

Parking and traffic conditions may be busy in areas where Memorial Day services are held. Those planning on using public transport on this holiday may need to check with the local transport authorities prior to travelling.

Background

Memorial Day commemorates Newfoundland and Labrador’s veterans, especially the members of the Newfoundland Regiment who fought and died at Beaumont Hamel during the opening day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916. According to Veteran Affairs Canada, Newfoundland was a dominion of the British Empire and not yet a part of Canada during World War I (1914–1918). Once Britain declared war on Germany in August 1914, Newfoundland was automatically at war.

The “1st Newfoundland Regiment” was assembled and trained, with the first recruits sent overseas in October, 1914, to become a unit of the British Army. They would become known as the “Blue Puttees” because of the color of the uniform leggings they wore on their lower legs. After seeing action in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey in late 1915, the Newfoundlanders were sent to France’s western front in 1916. The Allied plan was to make the “Big Push” and the Somme was chosen as the site for a joint French and British assault.

It would be on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, near the village of Beaumont-Hamel in northern France, that the 1st Newfoundland Regiment would enter the action. The result was devastating – more than 57,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed, wounded or missing. The sector of the front in Beaumont-Hamel where the 1st Newfoundland Regiment would see action was supposed to be taken by surprise, but the Germans knew the attack was coming.

The 1st Newfoundland Regiment suffered great losses at Beaumont-Hamel on July 1, 1916. Only 68 out of 801 1st Newfoundland Regiment members who fought at Beaumont Hamel in 1916 answered the roll call on the following day. This event was devastating day for the men who fought bravely and for what is known today as Newfoundland and Labrador.

Symbols

The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial is a memorial site dedicated to remembering the Dominion of Newfoundland force members who were killed during World War I. It is located in nine kilometers north of the town of Albert in France. The site is one of the few in France or Belgium where a visitor can see the trench lines of World War I battlefield and the related terrain. A great bronze caribou stands on a mound that is surrounded by rock and shrubs native to Newfoundland. The caribou is the Newfoundland Regiment’s emblem.

At the base of the mound, three bronze tablets carry the names of 820 members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve, and the Mercantile Marines who gave their lives in World War I and have no known grave. Many of the soldiers were later found and buried in nearby Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries.

The National War Memorial in St John’s, Canada, is another memorial that remembers World War I veterans and those who died while in service during the war. There are five bronze figures that represent Newfoundland's involvement in the war.  A figure of a woman is at the top of the central pedestal. It symbolizes Newfoundland's willingness to serve and the spirit of loyalty to the Empire. The figure holds a flaming torch in her left hand as a symbol of freedom. She holds a sword in her right hand, signifying readiness for battle if necessary. This memorial was unveiled on July 1, 1924.

Note: Timeanddate.com wishes to thank Veterans Affairs Canada for information regarding the 1st Newfoundland Regiment, the Battle of the Somme, and the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial. 

External Links

Veterans Affairs Canada: The 1st Newfoundland Regiment and the Battle of the Somme

Memorial Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
TueJul 11980Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
WedJul 11981Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
ThuJul 11982Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
FriJul 11983Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
SunJul 11984Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
MonJul 11985Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
TueJul 11986Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
WedJul 11987Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
FriJul 11988Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
SatJul 11989Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
SunJul 11990Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
MonJul 11991Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
WedJul 11992Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
ThuJul 11993Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
FriJul 11994Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
SatJul 11995Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
MonJul 11996Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
TueJul 11997Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
WedJul 11998Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
ThuJul 11999Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
SatJul 12000Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
SunJul 12001Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
MonJul 12002Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
TueJul 12003Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
ThuJul 12004Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
FriJul 12005Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
SatJul 12006Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
SunJul 12007Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
TueJul 12008Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
WedJul 12009Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
ThuJul 12010Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
FriJul 12011Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
SunJul 12012Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
MonJul 12013Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
TueJul 12014Memorial DayLocal observanceNL
WedJul 12015Memorial DayLocal observanceNL

Related holiday

Other holidays in July 2014 in Canada

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