15 Ways to Celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday

It’s Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017 and there’s never been more to see and do across the country.

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Water and mountains in Whistler
photo credit: shutterstock

The Big 1-5-0

Canada is the place to be in 2017 (so says Lonely Planet) – thanks to the yearlong birthday celebrations happening from coast to coast. With free access to national parks, parties, festivals and community events, you have even more reason to love this sprawling country we call home.

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In Ottawa


Although the Confederation Line of Ottawa’s new light-rail transit system won’t open until 2018, visitors can head underground from the end of June until September to take a free futuristic journey through Lyon Station. There you can experience a multi-media sound and light show.

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In Montreal


The year 2017 marks Montreal’s 375th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Expo 67. Visit Sherbrooke Street from June 5 to October 27 to witness a kilometre-long free outdoor public art walk. There you can enjoy 67 works of sculpture, photography and installations, focusing on humanism, tolerance and openness—the concepts that inspired the ’67 Montreal Expo.

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In Vancouver


Many of the 150+ celebrations in Vancouver will focus on local First Nations in a bid to strengthen community relations. For example, arts-and-culture fest The Drum is Calling Festival in Larwill Park from July 22 to 30 will be curated by artist and writer Margo Kane and will include a village of traditional life-sized Aboriginal housing. The title, Canada 150+, recognizes that confederation happened 150 years ago, but First Nations communities long predate colonization.

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In Calgary


Never been to the Calgary Stampede? Now’s the time. It’s known for its celebration of Western culture with the rodeo, chuck-wagon races, musical performances, shopping and food. But the 2017 event will be even bigger with a 150th birthday theme that includes marching bands, floats and entertainers.

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In Toronto


From June 29 to early 2018, Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) will host a new major exhibit titled Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood. The collection of 33 works of contemporary Canadian art explore three main questions:

  1. Where has Canada come from?
  2. What is Canada now?
  3. Where is it going?

Purchase the show’s catalogue filled with reflective essays at shopAGO starting in July 2017.

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In Charlottetown


Starting in April, 40 tall ships will race from the U.K., across the Atlantic Ocean and back. It’s all part of the Rendez-Vous 2017 Regatta. Between June 20 and July 2, six to eight of these beautiful ships will dock in Charlottetown’s harbour and visitors can tour the structures over the four-day period. Port of Quebec in Quebec City will see the fleet between July 18 and 23.

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In Gatineau


From June 30 to October 15, stroll along Mosaï Canada 150 pedestrian walkway through 32 green art exhibits that are divided into three categories: space (provinces, territories and people), time (history, tradition and values) and imaginary (First Nations legends and spirituality).

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In Yukon


As part of the yearly Adäka Cultural Festival from June 30 to July 6, which celebrates First Nations culture, The Traditional Watercraft Project will launch four handcrafted traditional boats—a birch bark canoe, dugout canoe, sealskin kayak and moose skin boat. The watercrafts will be built over the month of June on the S.S. Klondike waterfront museum grounds.

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In Winnipeg


Visit the Canadian Museum of Human Rights until the end of November to see Our Canada, My Story. In this new exhibit, seven Canadians share their experiences with human rights in seven short videos. They discuss topics surrounding the rights of minority groups, such as LGBTQ, special needs and indigenous people.

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In Victoria


Victoria’s Inner Harbour is a lush green space on the water, sitting under the elegant Fairmont Empress hotel. From June 21 to July 1, go there for live music, food and fireworks in a larger than life 11-day party to celebrate Canada’s birthday.

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Across Canada


ParticipAction created a list of 150 activities to get your body moving and your heart pumping. Sign up online, track your progress and you could win prizes, including trips, a car and more.

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Across Canada


Project Bookmark Canada is creating a literary trail across the country, from B.C. to Newfoundland. Canadian fiction and poetry excerpts are printed on plaques and are posted at the exact locations where the literary scenes took place.

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Across Canada


With a series of 52 short videos, Canadian chef Ricardo Larrivée will visit producers, farmers, winemakers, fisherman and artisans across Canada to showcase the amazing ingredients that this country has to offer such as Saskatchewan wild rice, Ontario icewine, Quebec wild blueberries and Newfoundland snow crab.

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Across Canada


More than 40 orchestras across Canada to choose a composer and write a score. These “Sesquies” each will celebrate what it means to be Canadian. Commisioned by the Toronto Symphony, the concerts are scheduled throughout 2017.

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Across Canada


Another Sesqui on our list: Horizon is a 360-degree film that explores the “people, landscapes and freedoms that make Canada home.” With a traveling cinematic dome, the film starts touring Ontario in early summer and continues with stops at planetariums across the country.

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