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Summer is a time for celebration in most countries and Canada is no exception. One way of making these celebrations special is through the use of fireworks. These pyrotechnical wonders have a universal attraction for young and old. In Canada, our most spectacular fireworks displays traditionally happen on Canada's birthday, July 1. However, there have been many other occasions when they have been used to highlight special events and festive days. The Early Canadiana Online collection has surprisingly many accounts of the use of fireworks in Canadian history as can be seen by the examples below.
This account dates from the year 1637 and describes a firework display put on by the Governor of Quebec in honour of St. Joseph, the patron saint of New France.
The following extract is from Marjorie's Canadian Winter - A story of the Northern Lights (1893) by Agnes Maule Machar.
The page below is part of legislation passed in Nova Scotia in 1783 prohibiting the setting off of various kinds of fireworks, presumably to let the citizens of Nova Scotia have a good night's rest. It testifies to the huge popularity of fireworks at that time.
The Dominion Illustrated Monthly (Vol. 2, no.3, April 1893) has an account of a Chinese New Year celebration featuring spectacular fireworks.
The image below is a 19th century postcard illustrating spectacular fireworks on the Montreal mountain. (Courtesy of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec)
The following 3 mid-twentieth century photographs are of fireworks in Calgary and Vancouver. (Courtesy of the Glenbow Museum)
And finally, a colour photograph from a firework display in Calgary, also from the 1950ies. (Courtesy of the Calgary Public Library)