Toronto

Vast majority of Canada Day events to be virtual during pandemic

Canada marks its 153rd birthday on Wednesday but celebrations will be different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Toronto moves celebrations online, mayor encourages residents to show pride in their country

Canada celebrates its 153rd birthday on Wednesday. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Canada marks its 153rd birthday on Wednesday but celebrations will be different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The vast majority of Canada Day events in Toronto will be virtual.

That means everything from pancake breakfasts, arts festivals and house parties to big-name concerts and fireworks displays will be online. The province has limited social gatherings to up to 10 people to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Mayor John Tory says Canada Day, despite the pandemic, is still "an ideal time" for city residents to show pride in their country.

"Although this Canada Day is unlike any other, I encourage Toronto residents and visitors to celebrate our wonderful country on July 1 by enjoying everything that the city has to offer," Tory said in a news release on Tuesday. 

"For those residents heading outside, I remind them to please follow public health guidelines and practise physical distancing."

All Canada Day events that would have been held in person in Toronto have been cancelled, based on the recommendations from Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health.

Unlike previous years, there will be no real fire works at Ashbridges Bay to bring Canada Day to a close. (CBC)

Nathan Phillips Square will not be the site of Canada Day events this year. And there will be no real fire works at Ashbridges Bay to end the day. But there is plenty of fun to be had through the following events:

City of Toronto's Canada Day 2020

The City of Toronto's Canada Day 2020 will feature four livestream segments on its YouTube channel.

From 9 to 10 a.m., there will be a livestream of the Great Canadian Pancake Breakfast that will feature a physically distanced breakfast by MLSE executive chef Chris Zielinski and the mayor.

Chief R. Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation will provide greetings. Keep Rockin You will dance. Kim Mitchell will sing his new song Wishes live from the El Mocambo.

From 2 to 5 p.m., there will be a livestream of the afternoon Culture Jam, featuring Toronto artists and neighbourhoods with more than 35 performances. They will include performances from Kardinal Offishall, d'bi.young anitafrika, Lua Shayenne Dance Company, Marissa Magneson and Lucas Silveira.

From 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Ready for Prime Time segment will include a live performance from July Talk, with James Bayley and Kyla Charter from the El Mocambo, along with performances by Haviah Mighty and Gordon Lightfoot. There will be a sing-along to Neil Young's Lotta Love led by Choir! Choir! Choir! 

At 10 p.m., the CN Tower Canada Day Light Show will livestream a 15-minute visual display set to the music of Canadian artists.

A woman smiles as she participates in an annual Canada Day parade. In 2020, during COVID-19, most events will be online. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

@Home in East York Canada Day Celebration

At 6:30 p.m., the East York Toronto Canada Day Festival is encouraging residents to have an out-front dinner party with their neighbours but to make sure they physically distance. People are urged to register to get giveaways.

"Set yourself up to dine on your balcony, front lawn or driveway. A picnic-style dinner to an all-out formal dining experience. Your imagination is your only limitation," its website reads.

At 7:30 p.m., the festival is encouraging people to sing O Canada and bang pots to show appreciation for front-line workers. More information can be found here.

Food Truck'N Canada Day Festival

A food truck festival is being held at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Organizers say the event will have physical distancing measures in place. Guests will have access to 10 food trucks. There will be takeout and delivery by UberEats and there will be physically distanced picnic areas and a licensed patio.

The Food Truck'N Canada Day festival features: Alijandro's Kitchen, Jerk Brothers, Beavertails, The Arepa Republic, Funnel Cake Dream, Busters Seacove, El Bosco. Meltdown Cheesery, Mustache Burger and Tdot's Naansense.

Organizers say the amount of people allowed into the festival will be limited to ensure everyone keeps his or her distance.

Canada Celebration Kit

Canadian Heritage has created "interactive, creative and educational" activity packs for families. There are four activity packs available online: Maple Leaf, Peace Tower, Beaver and O Canada. More information can be found here.

Canada Day Virtual Fireworks

At 10 pm, local time, Canadians are urged to point their smart phones or tablets to the night sky and a 3-minute show displaying 3D fireworks will begin. This event, organized by Canadian Heritage, is being called an "augmented reality experience for mobile devices." More information can be found here.

At 10 pm local time, Canadians can point their smart phones or tablets to the night sky and a 3-minute show displaying 3-D fireworks will begin. (CBC)

With files from Natalie Nanowski

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