Happy 150th! Celebrating Canada Day 2017
Canada Day sees parades, fireworks and concerts every year, but 2017 is set to be a birthday bash like no other, as the country celebrates 150 years since Confederation. All decked out in red and white and looking for a party? Here’s a rundown of the best places across the country to join in the festivities.
Overlooking the St. Lawrence River from within the old walls of Quebec City, the majestic Fairmont Le Château Frontenac sits on the 19th-century Terrasse Dufferin walkway, putting you at the heart of the action on Canada Day. After a hearty breakfast of smoked salmon eggs benedict or deliciously sweet chocolate-and-banana waffles in the terrace-facing Place Dufferin restaurant, you need only step outside to watch the traditional flag-raising ceremony by the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment.
The hotel is treating revellers to Canada Day cake all afternoon, guaranteed to energize you for a day at the nearby sprawling Plains of Abraham park, where you and your family can enjoy games, bungee trampolines and a climbing wall. (Plus more cake, if you need a top-up.) You can immerse yourself in history too, as grand historian, David Mendel, will be presenting the contribution of the Canadian Pacific Railway to the creation of our country within the Chateau walls at 2 p.m. Key sites such as the Plains of Abraham Museum, with exhibits on battles between the British and the French, are offering free admission. Live bands and fireworks round off the day.
Canadian rock legends Barenaked Ladies and renowned rapper Belly are among the headliners for Toronto’s four-day festival at Nathan Phillips Square across from the Old City Hall, from June 30 to July 3. As well as big-name musicians, you can expect to see innovative dance and circus performances, plus a glittering nightly fireworks display. The square is a short walk from the iconic Fairmont Royal York, where you can continue your celebrations into the early hours with classic martinis in the sophisticated Library Bar.
Throughout the day on July 1, there’s also an activity-packed celebration in front of the Ontario Legislative Building in Queen’s Park. Roaming performers entertain through the day, and you can grab a snack from food trucks before attending a hands-on workshop or listening to local musicians performing on the main stage.
If you’re into all things aquatic, head down to Toronto’s lakeshore for the Redpath Waterfront Festival, running July 1–3. You won’t be able to miss the world’s largest rubber duck, a six-storey-high bath toy floating in Lake Ontario. There’s a chance to board and explore a Royal Canadian Navy frigate, and to browse local crafts like leather satchels and handmade jewellery at an artisan market. Pick up an order of churros or gelato at a performance of “Rhythm of the Nation,” an interactive music and dance show celebrating Canadian diversity. Or catch the “West Coast Lumberjack Show,” starring professional lumberjacks who battle it out in a 45-minute display of competitive logging activities such as chainsaw carving and axe throwing.
The Canadian Rockies
With Parks Canada offering free entry to all national parks throughout 2017, there’s been no better time to explore the jagged peaks and emerald lakes of the Canadian Rockies. In the heart of Banff National Park, the castle-like Fairmont Banff Springs is an easy stroll from a host of Canada Day activities in the picturesque town of Banff.
Kick off your day by filling up on pancakes and lashings of maple syrup at a breakfast downtown, before enjoying performances ranging from magic shows to Ukrainian dancers and fiddle music. Be sure to bag a spot early on Banff Avenue to watch Mounties and marching bands pass in a colourful parade at 11:30 a.m. Calgary-based Japanese drumming group Midnight Taiko and Saskatoon pop trio The Steadies are bound to have you tapping your toes into the evening before the late-night fireworks show.
For a memorable day, the serene and grand Fairmont Château Lake Louise, on the shore of its sparkling namesake, offers special Canada Day mountain adventures. Request an early wake-up call and head out into the crisp morning air for a sunrise canoe paddle across the still waters. If you’re raring to climb the surrounding slopes, you can sign up for a “Choose Your Own Adventure hike,” where a naturalist guide might lead you to a high-alpine teahouse or a little-known backcountry spot. Be the first to book, and the choice is yours.
Prefer to stay by the water? Watch the raising of the Canadian flag and join the hotel choir in a rousing rendition of “O Canada.” Then test your paddling mettle in family canoe races or brave the icy waters in the traditional polar bear dip. Hot chocolate is on hand for those courageous enough to dunk themselves, and there’s a huge Canadian-themed cake later on if you’re still recovering.
West Coast Festivities In Vancouver
On Vancouver’s waterfront, Canada Place is the hub of the city’s Canada Day events on July 1 and 2. Five stages play host to an eclectic line-up of performers, including live DJs and headlining rock group Sam Roberts Band.
Elegant Fairmont Gold harbour-facing rooms at Fairmont Pacific Rim and Fairmont Waterfront offer unrivalled views of the evening’s spectacular fireworks. For an alternative vantage point, take to the water on a Canada Day Fireworks cruise with Spirit Cruises. You’ll spend four hours aboard a luxury yacht enjoying city skyline and mountain vistas plus a gourmet dinner and dancing before the sky lights up with a dazzling display.
On July 2, dozens of floats, bands and dance troupes take to the streets for a vibrant Canada 150 Parade. Beforehand, tuck into Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s Canada 150 afternoon tea, featuring scones with Saskatoon berry compote and mouth-watering Montreal smoked meat sandwiches. Step right outside onto the corner of West Georgia and Burrard streets to watch the parade travel past.
Wherever you decide to spend this Canada Day, raise a glass to the nation’s 150 years and enjoy the celebrations!
Susie Henderson is passionate about travelling and has written articles and travel guides for numerous publications and websites, including the World Travel Guide, Sky News online, MSN Travel, Mail Travel, The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. She's lived in the UK, France, Spain and the US and is now based in Victoria, BC.
Canadian Flag Cake by benedek
Chateau Frontenac in Quebec city, Canada by MikeyGen73
Nathan Phillips Square and Old City Hall, Toronto, Canada by diegograndi
Downtown street view of Banff, Alberta, Canada by EddieHernandexPhotography
Beautiful mountain lake by Androsov
Fireworks on Canada Day 2016 by jamesvancouver
CN Tower in Toronto by olddays