First of all, let me say that I actually approve of the name “Canada Day.” Well, “approve” may not be the right word. Let’s say I like it better than the original; one of my earliest memories is hearing the term “Dominion Day” and wondering why we were celebrating a holiday based on the supermarket. When they changed it to Canada Day, I remember thinking: Oh, that makes sense. Maybe it could have a cooler name, but it’s fine the way it is.
I was asked in comments about the best and worst Canada Day specials, but I have to say, I really don’t know what they are. Because, unlike our Southern neighbour, we never made a clean break from the British Empire (and I’m certainly not saying we should have), it’s hard to construct a spectacular narrative for our independence day, and Canada Day is really more of a celebration of being Canadian and creating an identity that was distinct from Britain. That’s great, but it means that a Canada Day special is often indistinguishable from a pro-Canada special from any other time of the year — or at least, that’s the way it used to seem to me.
But here are some clips I found demonstrating how Canada Day has been promoted on television in the past 20 years — for as you know, an event does not exist until it’s promoted on television.
YTV, back when it was new and kind of cool, celebrates Canada Day in 1990:
A 1992 music-n’-montage commercial celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Big C:
1996: The Toronto Blue Jays, consisting almost entirely of Americans, promote Canada Day by lip-synching to a Canadian-specific parody of “This Land Is Your Land.”
And more recently, yet another Molson Canadian ad that plays on our combination of patriotism and self-deprecation.