Montreal Canada Day parade marches ahead despite heat warning

Temperatures reached a high of 33 C, feeling like 44 with the humidex.

Temperatures reached a high of 33 C, feeling like 44 with the humidex

Canada Day festivities in Montreal began at 11 a.m. with a parade heading east along Ste-Catherine Street from Fort Street and ending at Place du Canada. (Valeria Cori-Manocchio/CBC News)

Despite a heat warning in effect for Montreal, the city's Canada Day parade went ahead as planned today.

About 4,000 participants and onlookers, many of whom were dressed in red and white, waved Canadian flags along the parade route downtown Sunday.

Organizers made sure participants had water, as Environment Canada issued a heat warning for the city and nearby areas, including Laval, Châteauguay, La Prairie, Varennes and Longueuil.

Temperatures in Montreal reached a high of 33 C, which felt like 44 with the humidex.

The city's Canada Day festivities began at 11 a.m. with the parade heading east along Ste-Catherine Street from its starting point at Fort Street. It ended at Place du Canada, where ice cream carts and cold drinks were available.

According to Nick Cowen, the festival's organizer, over 120 groups participated in the parade, which is an annual tradition dating back to 1977.

Many of the parade's participants anticipated the heat, bringing along extra water to stay hydrated. Organizers also drove around the parade route on golf carts to ensure things ran smoothly.

"Not only are Montreal police present, the ambulances are also on standby," Cowen said. "In extreme emergencies, we're equipped to handle it."

In the end, Cowen said nobody suffered from heat stroke during the parade.

"I was expecting quite a few, but we didn't get one," he said.

"We had extra water. A lot of groups had extra water and I think that made a big difference. A lot of people were hydrated more than usual. So that's why we didn't have any actual heat stroke from anybody."

Chris Boettger and his son, Quinlan, were visiting Montreal from Yellowknife, N.W.T., arriving in the city just in time to catch the parade. They wore hats, brought extra water, but they were still caught off guard by how hot it got. 

Chris Boettger and his son Quinlan were visiting Montreal from Yellowknife, arriving just in time for the Canada Day Parade. They brought extra water to fend off the heat. (Valeria Cori-Manocchio/CBC)

"I had really no idea if was going to be this hot because it was cold at home." said Boettger.

How to handle the heat

To beat the heat, Environment Canada recommends:

  • Spending at least two hours a day in air conditioned or cool places;
  • Taking at least one shower or cool bath, or cooling your skin often with wet towels;
  • Limiting physical activity; and
  • Wearing light clothing.

The agency has also advised the public to consider rescheduling outdoor activities to the cooler hours of the day, such as morning or evening.

Two neighbourhoods appear to have taken that advice.

Pierrefonds cancelled its Canada Day parade, scheduled for today, while Côte Saint-Luc postponed Canada Day festivities, which included a live band, performers, fireworks and activities for children.

"We will announce a new date for the event later this summer," states the city's website.

Mitchell Brownstein, mayor of Côte Saint-Luc, said the heat presented a health concern, especially for volunteers and staff who would spend most of the day outside to set up events and ensure they ran smoothly.

"We felt the risk was too high," Brownstein told CBC.

As an alternative, Côte Saint-Luc is giving residents free access to its facilities, including pools and the library, he said.

For more information on how to handle Montreal's hot spell, read our guide. 

With files from Brian Lapuz and Valeria Cori-Manocchio