Photo Credit Jan Garrison
The tradition can be traced back to 1578
October 13, 2015

The second Monday of October in the United States is Columbus Day, generally celebrated with banks closing and mattress sales.

But in Canada, it is Thanksgiving Day. It is simply a day set aside to give thanks for another year’s harvest and spend time with family.

And Culver students, faculty, and staff with Canadian connections celebrated with the traditional meal everybody associates with the holiday – turkey, cranberries, dressing, potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie.

When we got to a dozen, we knew the house wouldn’t hold them.

The dinner began when wellness instructor and hockey coach Dan Davidge began hosting his Canadian mentees to celebrate the holiday. The group of four to five students quickly started to grow as more Canadian students asked about coming.

“When we got to a dozen, we knew the house wouldn’t hold them,” he said.

So three years ago, the decision was made to formalize the event so more students could attend. Davidge talked with Academic Dean Kevin MacNeil about the dinner and it became a cultural exchange event – an opportunity for Canadian students to share one of their traditions with students from other countries.

Davidge also puts a first classman/senior in charge of issuing invitations and taking the RSVPs. The first year, Kelsi Carr ’14 (Kitchener, Ontario) handled the event. Last year, Dawson McKenzie ’15 (Fergus, Ontario) took over the duties; and this year Colin Courtney ’16 (Orangeville, Ontario) was in charge. The event has grown from 18 students to 58 students, faculty, staff, and their families, with several nationalities being represented.

Unlike the American counterpart, Canadian Thanksgiving isn’t tied to one particular event or group of people like the Pilgrims. According to Canadian Living magazine, one event often cited as the first Thanksgiving occurred in 1578 when Martin Frobisher and his expedition conducted a feast of thanks in Newfoundland while searching for the Northwest Passage.

Davidge said the dining hall staff has done a great job with the meal, but one key ingredient is still missing. “Next year we’ll see if we can find a hockey game on TV or livestream one on the computer,” he laughed. “Then it will feel like home.”

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