While Americans famously celebrate Fourth of July, Canadians celebrate their own nationalistic holiday, appropriately named Canada Day, on July 1.
Until Oct. 27, 1982, Canada Day was actually known as “Dominion Day.” It was almost a hundred years before that, on July 1, that the British North America Act was passed (sometimes referred to as the Constitution Act) which established Canada as a separate nation. The following year, the Governor General of Canada asked that all Canadian citizens celebrate on July 1. Declared a civic holiday in 1867, most Canadians are pleased this day off landed in the summer instead of the cold winter, because it’s often the kick-off weekend to summer vacations.
Nowhere is Canada Day celebrated with more pomp and ceremony than at the Parliamentary Grounds in Ottawa — the capital of Canada. Tens of thousands of people turn up every year to hear music, watch fireworks and yes, paint their faces red and white while eating poutine or snacking on a beaver tail. And this year’s 147th birthday celebration should be no different.
Outside of Ottawa, smaller celebrations also take place across Canada, which exemplify the cultural and geological differences across the country.
The Harbourfront in Toronto celebrates Canada Day on June 30 with an impressive fireworks demonstration on barges floating on Lake Ontario. Set to music, this sparkling display can be viewed by land (at Canada Square) or by sea (technically, Lake Ontario) as the many sail and power boats drift in for a closer view.
Canada Place in Vancouver hosts a daylong celebration, which includes a lumberjack contest, sports zone, artisan’s market, music and dance performances and even a Canada Day parade at 7pm on West Georgia Street. This waterfront party is absolutely free to attend.
On the other coast of Canada, pitch a beach blanket on the shores in Nova Scotia and watch the fireworks — it can be the perfect setting for an all-Canadian toast. Or, celebrate the history of the region at the Fortress of Louisbourg — a National Park of Canada — where you might even get to fire off a cannon. This location, and all National Parks, are open free on Canada Day.
The Forks in Winnipeg is named from the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers in Manitoba’s capital. The market area of The Forks offers a daylong celebration for Canada Day that includes performances on 3 stages, art games, buskers, larger-than-life board games, a market and more. Make a (Canada) day of it.
– BY KATHY BUCKWORTH