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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Celebrating Thanksgiving Day in Canada

By Brandie Piper
Monsanto Corporate Engagement

Every year on the second Monday of October most Canadians across the country celebrate Thanksgiving Day, and it’s celebrated with traditions similar to Thanksgiving Day in the United States; Canadians take the time to eat a meal with family and friends and give thanks.

Though there are small differences in how Americans and Canadians give thanks each autumn, the foods traditionally served tend to be the same. Turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, roasted vegetables and pumpkin pie are staples at both holiday meals. Canadians are just as likely to host Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday or Sunday as they are on Monday. Celebrants use the time off from work to volunteer, serve their community or relax with friends and family.

History of Canadian Thanksgivings
In 1578 the first Canadian Thanksgiving was celebrated when explorer Martin Frobisher made a successful journey through the Northwest Passage, predating the United States’ first Thanksgiving celebration by about 43 years.

Canada’s Thanksgiving wasn’t held regularly until more than 200 years later when the Seven Years War ended in 1763. The concept of a Thanksgiving celebration was spread throughout parts of the country, but even then, the holiday was not held every year. Thanksgiving was used to mark special events, such as the end of a drought, or after a harsh winter, meaning Thanksgiving wasn’t even consistently celebrated in autumn.

In 1879 Canada declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, but the date fluctuated. It wasn’t until 1957 when the government chose the second Monday in October for Thanksgiving. The date was likely chosen because it coincides with the country’s harvest, which is nearly complete by October.

Give thanks to Canadian farmers
At the center of each Thanksgiving is the meal, which can be attributed to Canadian farmers. They grow most of the food served at the dinner table. Here are a few fun facts about the food on the table and the farmers who produce it:

According to the Turkey Farmers of Canada, Canadians bought 3.1 million whole turkeys for 2014 Thanksgiving meals, equivalent to 37 percent of all whole turkeys sold last year.

Cranberries are an important food at Thanksgiving as they are harvested right around the celebration. Since 2010, annual production of cranberries has more than doubled – from 83,120 tons to 174,252 tons.

Canadian farmers grew 4.6 million metric tonnes (more than 10 billion pounds) of potatoes in 2014. Prince Edward Island potato farmers are responsible for nearly 25 percent of the production.

Farming is a popular trade across parts of Canada. More than 100,000 residents across Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan are farmers. In fact, more than 10 percent of Saskatchewan’s population farms.

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