Canada Day crowds thronged to Parliament Hill today, determined to celebrate the country's 146th birthday with noisy enthusiasm and not a little pride — sentiments shared by millions of others in communities large and small across Canada and around the world.
In Ottawa, tens of thousands packed the lawns in front of the Parliament buildings for an evening concert featuring all manner of musical styles — including pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen, indie rock band Metric, and country artist Terri Clark, among others. They delivered some well-received tunes for a birthday crowd that was in the mood to party.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who entertained the world with his musical prowess while circling the Earth earlier this year aboard the International Space Station, made a well-received special appearance with Barenaked Ladies' Ed Robertson.
For many in the crowd, it was the second time around for many of the musical acts, as they'd seen them earlier in the day during the sunny afternoon's Canada Day festivities in front on 80,000 cheering celebrants — some of whom arrived as early as 4:30 a.m. to claim a prime viewing spot. The evening fireworks show on Parliament Hill began at 10 p.m. ET.
For some in the Ottawa crowd, it was their very first Canada Day spent in Canada and they were making the most of the celebration. "My first Canada Day, so I'm so excited to be here," said Tonton Mundele. "I've heard about Canada a long time ago, since I was very small from Congo. I had a dream to immigrate to Canada."
Politicians such as Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Heritage Minister James Moore also took part in the afternoon ceremonies in Ottawa.
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Harper said Canadian values were demonstrated in the way in which Albertans coped with the devastating floods.
"What an example they set. When the floods forced so many from their homes, communities dug deep, neighbours helped neighbours, and people sheltered complete strangers. That's the spirit that makes Canada the best country in the world. The best bar none."
Gov. Gen. David Johnston also addressed the crowd, paying tribute to the late Stompin' Tom Connors by massaging the lyrics of his iconic The Hockey Song.
"Stompin’ Tom truly loved Canada. So let me borrow from one of his most beloved songs about this country, and say: Hello out there. We're on the air. It's Canada Day today!"
In London, England, Jann Arden, The Tragically Hip, Hamilton rock band Arkells and The Sheepdogs were among the performers at Canada Day International in the British capital, where about 85,000 Canadians live.
New York was also hosting celebrations for the country's birthday, with Spirit of the West, Joel Plaskett and Lights all performing.
But it was in countless cities and towns all over Canada where Canadians really turned out in huge numbers to show their birthday colours.
Festivities across Canada included the following:
- Vancouver's Canada Place festivities began at 10 a.m. PT, with a parade at 7 p.m. and a fireworks show at 10:30 p.m.
- In Calgary, celebrations started at 10 a.m. MT, with some events relocated to Shaw Millennium Park because of flood recovery efforts in the city.
- Edmontonians will be treated to a fireworks show over the city's river valley parks and the North Saskatchewan River at 11 p.m. MT.
- In Regina, the Royal Canadian Artillery kicked off the festivities in Wascana Park at noon CT with a 21-round gun salute, and The Trews will cap off an afternoon of musical performances at 8:30 p.m.
- In Winnipeg, the entertainment began at the Forks at 1 p.m. CT. In the evening, local indie band Imaginary Cities will team up with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for a performance that will lead into a fireworks show at 11 p.m.
- In Toronto at Mel Lastman Square, a concert and fireworks display was held beginning at 5 p.m. ET.
- The Old Port of Montreal will host a fireworks display at 10:15 p.m. ET, following a day of musical performances that began at 11 a.m.
- In Quebec City, Canada Day celebrations took place on the Plains of Abraham, with games, shows, and fireworks later in the evening.
- In Moncton, celebrations got underway with a bike ride at 11 a.m. AT, followed by a concert headlined by Colin James at Main Street and Riverfront Park, and a fireworks display at 10 p.m.
- In Dartmouth, N.S., live music by Skratch Bastid, Paper Lions, Gloryhound, The Elwins and Tokyo Police Club began at 5 p.m. at Alderney Landing, with a fireworks show over Halifax harbour set for 10 p.m.
- Charlottetown's Victoria Park hosted events beginning at noon AT, with live music and a fireworks show at 10 p.m.
- In Yellowknife, Somba K'e Civic Plaza hosted celebrations between 12:30 MT and 4 p.m.
- In Iqaluit, festivities began with a pancake breakfast and flea market, then a Canada Day Parade.
- In St. John's, Canada Day started with a sunrise ceremony at 6 a.m. NT at Signal Hill National Historic Site, with afternoon celebrations on Confederation Hill and a fireworks display scheduled for 10 p.m.