• James Armstrong

Local residents mark 35th anniversary of Canada Day name change


PHOTO COURTESY HANK PARDOEL

Canada Day has a special connection to Vaudreuil-Soulanges and former Vaudreuil MP Harold Herbert that includes (left to right) MP Peter Schiefke, Madeleine Lemieux, Nicole Durand and Matthew Royer in the Library of Parliament, Ottawa.

Canada’s national holiday was once known as Dominion Day but became Canada Day 35 years ago, in 1982. It happened because of a Private Member’s Bill introduced by the late Liberal Member of Parliament for Vaudreuil, Harold (Hal) Herbert. His legislation amended the Holidays Act to create the name change.

Canadian parliament reaction

To mark the anniversary, Herbert’s wife Madeleine Lemieux and her grandson, 18-year-old Matthew Royer, joined current Liberal Member of Parliament for Vaudreuil-Soulanges Peter Schiefke in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 11.

“It was really beautiful,” Lemieux told The Journal. Schiefke addressed the house describing one of his predecessor’s contributions to Canadian society.

“Hal Herbert made history on July 9, 1982 when his bill passed the House of Commons renaming July 1st Canada Day which was used for the first time in 1983,” said Schiefke recognizing Lemieux and Boyer’s presence in the gallery.

“Everyone stood and applauded. It was spontaneous and intense,” recounted Lemieux with a smile.

PHOTO BY JACOB ROLOFF

A political campaign badge from the 1970s portrays Hal Herbert when he represented the riding then referred to simply as Vaudreuil.

Background

Herbert was elected in the 1972 federal election winning the seat again in 1974, 1979 and 1980.

“I remember travelling with him to Ottawa for the first time, in 1972,” said Lemieux. She said her husband was motivated to make the name change because Dominion Day wasn’t acceptable to French-Canadians. She said changing the name to Canada Day was significant for Western Canada, as well.

“He presented the bill eight times in the House Commons,” said Lemieux, “Because he wanted it to be unanimous and that didn’t happen until the eighth time.” Dominion Day celebrated the union of three provinces, Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that were united on July 1, 1867 by the British North America Act (BNA). The Dominion of Canada was divided into four provinces, namely, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In 1982, the power to amend Canada’s Constitution was repatriated from Britain and the BNA became the Constitution Act, 1982.

When asked how her grandson reacted to the experience, Lemieux replied, “He was fascinated, especially by the buildings.” Schiefke gave them a tour of the Library of Parliament.

“It is a jewel,” she said noting that with the advent of the internet and computers it appeared there were fewer people using the venerable institution.

Hudson connection

As a longtime resident of Hudson, Herbert served as president of the board of Manoir Cavagnal an apartment complex for senior citizens, from 1989 to 1997. Currently, Lemieux resides in one of the apartments at the Manoir and was pleased that Manoir General Manager Nicole Durand and photographer Hank Pardoel were able to accompany her and her grandson on their recent trip to Ottawa.

“It was a really great trip for all of us,” said Lemieux.

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