From sea to shining sea, July 1st will be celebrated by Canadians as they celebrate Canada Day? Happy 1st of July Canada! 145 years and going strong. What about you – how will you be celebrating Canada Day?
On July 1, 1867, the British government (under Queen Victoria) approved a plan which allowed Canada to become an independent country with its own government – introducing the Dominion of Canada. At that time, the new Dominion of Canada had only four provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick). We have come a long way – today, there are 10 provinces and 3 territories spanning from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Atlantic in the east.
Canada Day festivities in Ottawa’s Parliament Hill will set off with the melodies of the Peace Tower’s 53 bell carillon at 9 am, followed by the raising of the flag and the Changing of the Guard at 10 am. Redcoats, bearskin caps, pipes and drums – the pomp, pageantry and music is a must see as Canada’s finest ceremonial guard parade, beginning at the Cartier Square Drill Hall, moving past the War Memorial and marching down Wellington Street and on to Parliament Hill. A similar ceremony also takes place at the Governor General’s residence at the historic Rideau Hall. Be sure to get there early – the crowds for the changing of the guard get quite thick.
The Canada Day Noon Show, broadcast live on tv, runs from noon to 1:30 pm. The show combines ceremony and the arts. The event begins with the inspection of the guard and the 21-gun salute. The focus then turns to the main stage for cultural performances from across Canada and Canada Day speeches by various dignitaries. Buskers and drummers will continue to entertain the crowds from 2 – 5 pm. Wander on down to the Market for amazing food and Canadian classics such as the Beaver Tail and poutine.
The National Art Gallery permanent exhibit is open and Free on Canada Day, as is The War Museum and the Canadian Museum of Nature. Stop for photos under the giant spider – Maman, found in the Gallery Plaza. Maman is a metaphor for creativity and a tribute to the artist’s mother. (Aritist: Louise Bourgeois). While a controversial acquisition by the National Art Gallery, this giant arachnid remains a huge draw for tourists, photographers and artists alike, capturing her likeness is photography and drawings. She has also been the subject of many family and travel photos. Will she be making an appearance in your family album this year?
2pm to 5pm – Various street performers and buskers will be roving on the lawns of Parliament Hill. Celebrations for the war of 1812 with re-enactment units will be performing through the afternoon with special re-enactments at 2, 3 and 4 pm.
7:30 – 10:00 – The Canada Day Evening Show, including performances by Feist, Simple Plan and Roch Voisine will get the party started before the main feature – the grand finale fireworks show at 10 pm.
Best spots to enjoy the fireworks – there are so many amazing views as the fireworks come to life, lighting up Parliament Hill in a spectacular display of colour explosions. From the Gatineau side, watch the show from the Canadian Museum of Civilization or Jacques-Cartier Park. Note: the Alexandra Bridge is closed to traffic throughout the day and to pedestrian traffic after 6 pm.
From the Ottawa side, view the fireworks from Major’s Hill Park, Victoria Island or join the crowds on Parliament Hill. For more photos of the fireworks on Parliament Hill, visit How to Photograph Fireworks – featuring photos from Canada Day.
Want to start even earlier – get the party started on June 30th with something new – an outdoor movie theatre. Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and watch two Canadian movies at Jacques-Cartier Park: Monsieur Lazhar and Breakaway.
There is so much to see and do in Ottawa. Welcome to the nation’s capital. Happy Canada Day Day!