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Why Thanksgiving is Earlier in Canada

Posted by bigceebee on October 10, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Over the years, I have often been asked by American friends and colleagues to explain why Thanksgiving in Canada is 6 to 7 weeks earlier than it is in the United States. Most presume the explanation relates to historical elements but nothing could be further from the truth. The true reason is rather simple and will surely astound many of you by its sheer simplicity... Turkey migration. Allow me to elaborate.

First of all, a common misconception amongst many is that turkeys come from Turkey. In reality, turkeys come from the Bylot Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary in the Nunavut Territory  of northern Canada (see map below).

Like most birds on the planet, turkeys are fine with hanging out in their natural habitat when it's warm but head the hell south once temperatures start to drop. Needless to say, since the warmest month on Bylot Island is July at a balmy 6.2 C or 43.2 F, the turkeys start high-tailing out of there in early August. What follows are a few photos of a typical annual turkey migration southbound from Bylot Island.

First out for the migration are the scouts who set the trail for the countless flocks to follow.

Once the trail is set, the flocks begin to follow on the long journey to the south.

Turkeys aren't the fastest things on two legs so the walk from Bylot Island can take a couple of months. Seen here is a typical migratory campsite during the trip.

Following thousands of miles of travel through rough terrain, the turkeys finally reach civilization. Canadian cities are the first to be reached due to their northerly location versus U.S. cities.

And thus, this is why Thanksgiving is earlier in Canada.

Happy Thanksgiving, All and Bon Appétit! ;)

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Reply D. Ryan Leask
01:11 PM on November 23, 2011 
I had no idea, I just always thought that it took Americans far longer to actually shot a turkey back in the old days because they kept shooting each other by mistake unlike us well aimed Canadians. Thanks for the clarification.
Quick question, is Thanksgiving celebrated in early August in Nunavut or do they not have much to be thankful for due to their crops never coming up?
Reply David L Atkinson
08:45 AM on November 24, 2011 
Brilliant in its simplicity and so obvious!

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