Thanksgiving Day in Canada is an official national holiday that is observed in all Canadian provinces and territories. Thanksgiving in Canada became a national holiday in 1879 and, in 1957, it was fixed to occur on the second Monday in October of every year.
On this day, most Canadians get a paid day off work to gather with family and friends to celebrate the year's harvest. This is done by partaking in a feeding frenzy that includes turkey, stuffing, squash, potatoes, and pie.
Regional menu variations include wild game, salmon, and desserts such as Nanaimo bars. Watching televised Canadian Football League games is also a tradition.
The Saturday and Sunday leading up to Thanksgiving is business as usual, but on Thanksgiving Monday, most businesses, stores, and services shut down. That said, Canada is a big country and not every province has the same closures. Exceptions apply across the country, especially in Quebec where Thanksgiving (action de grâce) is not celebrated the same way by all residents and many shops and services remain open. It's always a good idea to call ahead to ensure a business or service is operating before heading out.
Closed on Thanksgiving in Canada
- Federal government offices
- Most local government offices, including passport offices and post offices. Some post offices in the private sector do not close (such as those within malls, supermarkets, or drugstores that remain open for the holiday).
- Most libraries
- Most childcare facilities
- Most government-run beer and liquor outlets (except in Quebec)
- Most supermarkets and some convenience stores
- Many restaurants
Open on Thanksgiving in Canada
- Most tourist attractions, as well as restaurants and stores located in tourist destinations, stay open.
- Many malls in major cities stay open, especially in tourist destinations. For example, the Eaton Centre mall in Toronto and the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton stay open on Thanksgiving Day.
- Quebec SAQ (alcohol) stores remain open except for those located in a mall that is closed for the holiday.
- Much public transportation, such as the TTC, operates on a holiday schedule.
- Some supermarket and drugstore chains keep a few stores open at key locations.
Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on a different date than in the United States. American Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.
Whereas Thanksgiving in the United States is the major holiday of the year, Thanksgiving in Canada is also a time when families get together but without the same level of hoopla. Unlike the United States, Canadians do not typically stage parades and it is not a particularly busy travel weekend during Thanksgiving weekend. Historically, Canada did not engage in the "Black Friday" shopping madness found in the United States, but the consumer extravaganza is now common at major shopping malls and online.