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Canadians have been celebrating Thanksgiving since 1578 -- more than 40 years before the Pilgrims' "first" American Thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation. English explorer Martin Frobisher established a settlement in what now is Newfoundland, and it was in 1578 that he ordered a ceremony to give thanks for a safe journey across the Atlantic.
Early Canadian history is sprinkled with thanksgiving observances. In 1879, the holiday was formalized by Parliament, which declared Nov. 6 as a day of thanksgiving.
In the years following first World War, Armistice Day and Thanksgiving Day were marked by a common celebration on the Monday of the week that included Nov. 11. (Nov. 11 was the date of the armistice ending combat in World War I. Americans mark the day as Veterans Day.) The Canadians separated the holidays in 1931. Armistice Day was renamed Remembrance Day and fixed on Nov. 11. The date for Thanksgiving was set by annual proclamation, usually on a date during October.
In 1957, Parliament passed a law setting Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday in October.