Fireworks, parades and free milk: Canada's centennial babies turn 50

Arlene Beitel, Carol Tidd and Ethel Edwards live in different provinces — British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador — but have at least one thing in common: They were born on July 1, 1967.

These women celebrate a milestone birthday this Canada Day on the nation's 150th anniversary

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      Arlene Beitel, Carol Tidd and Ethel Edwards live in different provinces — British Columbia, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador — but have at least one thing in common: They were born on July 1, 1967.

      This year, as Canada reaches its 150th anniversary of Confederation, the three women are celebrating their 50th birthdays.

      But they're also reflecting on the perks that came with being born on Canada's 100th birthday.

      Beitel was featured in the local newspapers at birth for being the first centennial baby in British Columbia. Her parents also received gifts such as a hundred quarts of milk, diaper service and a colour television set — a rare commodity in the 1960s.

      Arlene Beitel, middle, celebrated her 49th birthday with her sister and mom last year on Canada Day.

      On the day Edward was born, people in her hometown of Placentia — on the west coast of Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula — were busy throwing a centennial parade. Edwards said her mom could hear the band playing when she was in labour. 

      "My mom would always tell the stories to anyone who would listen that her baby was born on Canada's 100th birthday," Edwards said from her home in St. John's. 

      Beitel, who lives in Cloverdale, B.C., just outside Vancouver, says she always had fireworks on her birthday, which was her favourite thing. 

      "It wasn't until I grew up that I realized they weren't just for me, but for the whole country too," Beitel said, laughing.  

      Meeting the Queen, the mayor and 'a lot of cameras'

      Carol Tidd plans to celebrate her birthday this year in Peterborough, Ont. (Grant Linton/CBC)

      Carol Tidd, a Centennial baby from Oshawa, Ont., was invited to give flowers to the Queen when she was five. 

      "They actually came to my house and taught me how to curtsy and speak to the Queen and walk backwards when you left her presence " said Tidd. "That's the time when I realize I have a special birthday."

      At 21, Tidd also received a savings bond from the Canadian government. She accepted it at a ceremony at Thompson Memorial Park in Toronto's east end. 

      "There were a lot of cameras and the mayor and all the important people were there," Tidd said. "So that was the most memorable." 

      Sharing similarities

      Although the three women don't know each other, they share many similarities. For one, both Beitel and Edwards have wedding anniversaries that are also on July 1. 

      Ethel Edwards is seen celebrating her 49th birthday with family in St. John's last year. (Submitted by Ethel Edwards)

      "When I met my spouse, we got married on July 1, so I always joke with him that he can never forget my birthday or our anniversary because he has the whole country to remind him," said Edwards. "My nephew calls it ABC day — anniversary, birthday, Canada Day." 

      Beitel and her husband got married on Canada Day in the year 2000. "It's my very favourite day of the year for many reasons," she said. 

      The Centennial babies say they idolize Terry Fox as their Canadian hero — another thing they have in common. They all remember watching him on television when they got home from school as teenagers. 

      "He looked like he could be anyone," Edwards said. "He was just an ordinary person doing such an extraordinary thing."

      Over the last decade, the women have consistently taken their families out to the Terry Fox runs and walks to support cancer research. 

      "It keeps going, it raises more money even long after he's gone," Tidd said. 

      Celebrating the big day

      Each of the women are celebrating their 50th birthday by attending Canada Day festivities with their families. 

      Beitel is watching her son's baseball tournament in North Vancouver, with plans to see the annual fireworks in her hometown Cloverdale afterwards. Edwards is watching the sunrise at Signal Hill and will move to the events at the Confederation Building in St. John's. As for Tidds, she will watch Kim Mitchell perform in Peterborough, Ont. 

      The three women say they feel proud to be Canadian.

      "All the things we have to offer — our healthcare, environment, the people, beautiful cities," Tidd said. 

      "I can't think of living anywhere else other than Canada."