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As you know, Canada Day is a national holiday marking the anniversary of Confederation in 1867, when the British North America Act came into effect. It was originally known as Dominion Day until it was renamed in 1982.
Dominion Day was a way for Canadians to celebrate their national identity and assert their distinctiveness within the British Empire.
In 1958, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker ordered a federally sponsored Dominion Day celebration on Parliament Hill. The event included a speech from the Governor General, a 21-gun salute, a military trooping of the colour and a carillon concert.
Throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, a clear emphasis on bilingualism and multiculturalism was clear in federal messaging. This was evident in the selection of event performers and individuals who were featured in official Canada Day publications.
In the 1980’s, a national committee for Canada Day provided seed funding to communities to organize their own Canada Day events. The committee also suggested activities to link communities together, such as singing “O Canada” all at the same time at noon, and encouraging common annual themes.
Since the late 1980s, Canada Day festivities in downtown Ottawa have settled into a standard event. Formal ceremonies take place at midday on Parliament Hill, which include speeches by dignitaries, a changing of the guards, a flyover by the Snowbirds as well as music and dance performances. The popular evening activities usually feature a massive concert with performers from across Canada, topped off with a major fireworks display.
Suffice to say, Canada Day celebrations in 2020 definitely won’t be the same as in previous years. Celebrations downtown have been cancelled. The Official Orléans Canada Day celebrations on Petrie Island have also been cancelled. Special breakfasts inside restaurants and huge gatherings are cancelled as well.
Instead, we will likely be celebrating Canada Day with the members of our family and/or bubble of 10 people rather than gathering in large groups.
Does this mean we don’t celebrate? Absolutely not! In addition to showing our Canadian pride through hanging our flags, here are a few things we can safely do on Canada Day:
Drop by the Interpretation Centre and look at our Canada Day display, test your skill at guessing how many turtle eggs in a jar (not real turtle eggs), and grab a list for a scavenger hunt. Is there a bunny on the list?
Say hi to their friendly summer staff ( from a distance of 6 feet please) who will be there from 10 am to 7 pm. They are happy to help you get your membership, register for the Family and Friends Naturalist session or book a picnic table. Note they are unable to provide change.
Please respect COVID-19 restrictions including physical distancing, no groups larger than 10 people, good respiratory and hand hygiene and don’t come to the Island if you feel unwell or have any symptoms.
Enjoy a tropical drink, some munchies or even some ice cream at the Bananas Beach Grill & Rum Shack on Petrie Island. They are open from noon to 9:00 PM. Please respect social distancing rules.
The Government of Canada is offering virtual daytime and evening Canada Day shows.
There are many Canada day activities for the little ones as well. On this site you will find a little Canadian history, some outdoor activities such as scavenger hunts, arts and crafts and even some things for little chefs to whip up in the kitchen!
No matter what you decide to do this year, please continue to be COVID-Wise:
W – Wear a cloth mask when you cannot maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet).
I – Isolate yourself from others when you are sick (and get tested promptly if you have COVID-like symptoms).
S – Stay two metres (six feet) apart from those outside your household.
E – Exercise proper hand hygiene; wash your hands regularly or use sanitizer especially before touching your face.
Lastly, even though we will celebrate our Canadian pride a little differently this year, one thing remains the same and unscathed. We are proud to be Canadian.
Happy Canada Day from The Heart of Orléans BIA!