We just had Canada Day last week. It was a pretty soggy one this year but usually the day is celebrated with picnics, bbqs and fireworks. Like Americans, we celebrate our country's birth by "blowing up a small part of it." Although people around here like fireworks even more on Halloween. The air is blue from gunpowder on that night. On Canada Day, we become very patriotic and cover everything in red, white and maple leaves. I'm particularly fond of temporary tattoos.
Anyway, Canada Day celebrates Confederation, when Upper and Lower Canada joined the Maritimes to become Canada. Later the other provinces and territories joined this union. Unlike the US, there was no revolution (a few revolts here and there), mostly it was a bunch of guys lobbying the Queen for independence. I guess the squeaky wheel gets the grease because on July 1, 1867, we became The Dominion of Canada (Canada Day was originally called Dominion Day).
As for books, I know Pierre Berton wrote tons of books on Canadian history. I haven't read any yet but I hear they are very accessible. An idealized look at Canadian life at the end of the 1800's would be the works of L.M. Montgomery, like Anne of Green Gables. For a humourous look at Canadian life, there is How to be a Canadian: Even If You Already Are One by Will & Ian Ferguson.
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