'Kind of epic': Lots of options to celebrate virtually this Canada Day
TORONTO -- There will be glowing hearts in the True North for Canada Day, but the celebrations in our home and native land will be less free this year.
Pandemic restrictions still in place in many places in the country continue to limit the number of people that can gather – 200 for outdoor events in Alberta, 50 in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Recommendations of maintaining physical distancing of at least 2 metres are also still in effect.
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Across the country, fireworks, concerts and parades have been cancelled, replaced by virtual Canada Day events, including in the nation’s capital.
Ottawa’s traditional national celebration is moving online with day and evening shows that will be broadcast on CPAC and the Canadian Heritage Facebook and YouTube pages.
Canada Day Across the Country (1 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET), hosted by singer Serena Ryder and TV and radio host Pierre-Yves Lord, will feature the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Julie Nesrallah and the Atlantic Ballet of Canada.
Canada Day Together (8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET), also hosted by Ryder and Lord, will feature Alanis Morrissette, Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Alan Doyle, The Sheepdogs, and many other performers in original collaborations. The show will end with a montage of fireworks from previous Canada Day events.
“It’s kind of epic, actually,” Ryder says of the shift to virtual celebrations.
The shows will feature in-home performances from musicians, dancers, and spoken word artists.
“Usually, we do it at Parliament Hill and everybody comes together in one spot. So this is actually giving us this, you know, window into where the people are from, which is so cool. And they’re from all over Canada,” Ryder said on CTV’s Your Morning Tuesday.
The shows cut across all cultures and genres, says Ryder.
“It’s stunning. I’m so excited.”
150 YEARS OF MANITOBA
Canada Day 2020 marks the 153rd birthday of Canada, but also the 150th anniversary of the formation of Manitoba as a province in Confederation.
Louis Riel, the leader of the Metis, was responsible for negotiating the terms under which Manitoba joined Canada as its fifth province. Manitoba is the only province to join Canada under Indigenous leadership.
The contribution of the Metis and Riel will be celebrated during the Canada Day Together virtual show.
In a video produced by the Manitoba Metis Federation, master fiddler Patti Kusturok from Winnipeg performs the Red River Jig, which is often called the Metis national anthem.
“It’s a blend of Scottish and Irish and First Nations music, Quebecois music. It’s very rhythmic. It’s very hard-driving and danceable, because that’s what it’s all about,” Kusturok told CTV’s Your Morning Tuesday.
“We do that to this day in the dance halls across the prairies.”
O CANADA AT 40
This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the official adoption of O Canada as the national anthem. Though the song was written in 1880 and has been used as the anthem since 1939, official adoption didn’t come until 1980.
Alexander Shelley, conductor and musical director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, called on Canadians to send along their versions of singing along to O Canada, which will become part of the final version being released as part of the Canada Day Across the Country virtual celebration Wednesday.
Shelley told CTV’s Your Morning Tuesday that, in this prolonged period of isolation, having Canadians sing O Canada “was an obvious perfect fit to bring people together.”
Shelley, who has been in his native London since the pandemic began, has also offered instruction to help Canadians conduct their family and friends singing O Canada, and regularly talked to Canadians, for his interview series Musically Speaking.
The NAC Orchestra has performed weekly concerts, and players have offered lessons to children across Canada.
“We’ve been able to use this time to do things that are slightly different to normal, but that have brought us into contact with a very large number of people,” said Shelley.
O CANADA IN A CANOE
COVID-19 is unleashing a lot of creativity and collaboration when it comes to marking July 1.
The federal government has compiled a list of 112 virtual celebrations happening across the country.
Halifax is hosting a concert from the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, featuring Joel Plaskett, Classified, Reeny Smith, Mo Kenney, Jah’Mila, Ben Caplan and Owen O’Sound.
Montreal is using Olympic Stadium for its webcast event, featuring Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Charlotte Cardin, Patrick Watson, Elisapie Isaac, and Hubert Lenoir.
"This pandemic period presented us with a unique opportunity to create an intimate show and give free rein to our imagination in order to highlight the character of our city. You will feel as if you were there,” Stephane Guertin, president of production company Tandem Communication, said in a statement.
In Winnipeg, The Forks is hosting an hour-long variety show that will be livestreamed on multiple platforms. It will feature singer-songwriter Taylor Janzen performing with a Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra cellist, a rendition of O Canada captured in a canoe on the Assiniboine River, and will be capped off by a fireworks demonstration by Archangel Fireworks that was filmed at a secret location.
The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra will be presenting a program of water-inspired music from a boat on Wizard Lake, about 50 kilometres south of the city.
The Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver will host a drive-thru Canada Day celebration and "reverse parade", which will allow participants to watch Canada-themed performances, order fair foods and decorate their cars.
Abbotsford’s virtual Canada Day will include a pet parade, community concert stage, an O Canada sing-along and virtual fireworks.
Hudson Bay, Sask. is launching fireworks that explode high in the air and will be visible over a wide area to prevent a gathered crowd. The fireworks will be set off from a high school football field and the town will allow people to gather in vehicles, parked five metres apart.
Port Coquitlam, B.C. is holding a drive-thru barbecue at the local firehall, along with a virtual event. It’s also advising neighbours about how to hold a virtual block party.
In Hamilton, Ont. the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is planning a flyover of Canada’s only flying Avro Lancaster. The flight over Hamilton, Niagara and Toronto is dedicated to the memory of Capt. Jenn Casey, who perished in a Snowbirds aircraft crash in Kamloops, B.C. on May 17. It’s also the 50th anniversary of the airborne acrobatics team.
The Lancaster will fly over Niagara Falls and loop around the CN Tower.
The museum, which features a collection of historic aircraft, recently reopened and will be open to visitors on Canada Day.
The City of London’s celebrations will feature live music and historic demonstrations from Fanshawe Pioneer Village, and a creative science experiment to make “fireworks” at home with the London Children's Museum.
A Sudbury municipal councillor and her choir director husband are the forces behind the “O Canada Project” that is now live on the Young Sudbury Singers YouTube channel.
The performance will be featured in a virtual celebration put on by Science North that will be streamed on CTVNewsNorthernOntario.ca on Canada Day.
The Canada Day House Party, a virtual festival, features a long list of performers, including the Sam Roberts Band, Gord Sinclair of The Tragically Hip, Dean Brody, Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine, The Trews, and William Prince. The event will raise funds for the Canadian Mental Health Association.
The Government of Canada has prepared an online Canada Day celebration kit, with arts and culture activities, Canada-themed games and quizzes, scavenger hunts and other outdoor activities, and Canadian recipes.
And if you are really missing fireworks, Canadian Heritage has put together an augmented reality experience. Download an app and at 10 p.m. local time on Canada Day, point your smart phone or tablet to the night sky for a three-minute 3D fireworks display.
Remember, however you spend Canada Day, to do so safely: wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, stay at least 2 metres from anyone who isn’t in your “bubble” and wear a mask where physical distancing isn’t possible.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, urged people to avoid large barbecues or potlucks and to bring their own food and drink to gatherings to avoid using shared containers and serving utensils.
Some municipalities, including Ottawa, are vowing to step up bylaw enforcement to ensure residents are respecting COVID-19 restrictions.
Remember that many municipalities require a permit to set off fireworks or you risk getting a ticket. Some jurisdictions have banned them during the course of the pandemic to discourage gatherings.