This year, everyone was invited to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. And, by looking at the steady stream of people going through the buffet line, everyone accepted.
The Canadian holiday is celebrated on the second Monday of October. So on Oct. 14, the Lay Dining Hall staff provided turkey and all the trimmings to celebrate. A special buffet line was placed in the center of the dining hall with the basic Thanksgiving staples: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, green beans, salad, and pumpkin pie.
The campus connection started in 1996 when Wellness instructor Dan Davidge and Harbor Dorm counselor Carolyn Davidge invited a few Canadian students over to their home to celebrate. For a number of years, both the Davidges and Mike and Ann Norton would invite students to their homes until the numbers started becoming too large for one house to handle.
In 2012, the dinner was moved to campus after Kelsi Carr ’14 suggested turning it into a cultural exchange event. Davidge talked with Assistant Head of Schools for Learning and Leadership Kevin MacNeil about the concept and a campus tradition was born. From 2012 to 2018, the Canadian students invited a guest to the dinner, which included a brief history of the holiday.
As the date approached this year, Davidge said the FLIK staff offered to make the Monday evening meal a Thanksgiving feast so all the students could observe the holiday. Decorations were placed around the dining hall telling the students about the holiday. And the word certainly did spread, as the dining hall was busy throughout the evening. Davidge, MacNeil, and the Canadian students, faculty, and staff gathered under the dining hall mezzanine to eat as a group.
The Canadian holiday can be traced back to 1578 when explorer Martin Frobisher held a celebration thanking God for surviving the long journey from England to Newfoundland. Frobisher was searching for the Northwest Passage and his crossing of the Atlantic Ocean was fraught with peril, from icebergs to severe storms.
When the French settlers and explorers arrived later, Samuel de Champlain copied the harvest festivals celebrated by the First Nations tribes. He called the celebration “The Order of Good Cheer,” which took place on Nov. 14, 1606. Thanksgiving was officially declared a national holiday in 1879, but the October date wasn’t officially set by the Canadian Parliament until 1957.