Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

Canada Day

First official Canadian citizenship ceremony, 1947

Canada Day is a federal statutory holiday which celebrates the anniversary of July 1, 1867, the effective date of the Constitution Act, 1867, which united the three separate colonies of the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.

In 1947, Karsh became naturalized Canadian citizen number 10 and given a passport. The Canadian Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, invited one representative from each of the 10 provinces to receive the first passports, nominating Karsh as the representative from Ontario. In 1995 Karsh was invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Canadian passport; he was the only honoree still living. Thanks to North Country Public Radio we now have a full caption for this image of the first officially naturalized citizens of Canada after a ceremony at the Supreme Court of Canada building in Ottawa on January 3, 1947.

(Front row: l.-r.:) Naif Hanna Azar from Palestine, Jerzy Wladyslaw Meier from Poland, Louis Edmon Brodbeck from Switzerland, Joachim Heinrich Hellmen from Germany, Jacko Hrushkowsky from Russia, and Anton Justinik from Yugoslavia. (Back row: l.-r.:) Zigurd Larsen from Norway, Sgt. Maurice Labrosse from Canada, Joseph Litvinchuk, Roumania, Mrs. Labrosse from Scotland, Nestor Rakowitza from Roumania and Yousuf Karsh from Armenia with Mrs. Helen Sawicka from Poland.

Read Journalist Robert McGarvey’s article reflecting on “the enormous contribution of newcomers to Canada.” It is Karsh’s immigration story that McGarvey uses to make his point.

Karsh’s Canadian Passport