Canada turns 150 in 2017, and here in southeastern Ontario the party is going to be off the hook all year long. Here’s a look at some of the best ways to toast the country in the region, complete with film fests, pan-Canadian concerts, tall ships and of course Canada Day bashes. Check back often because we’ll keep adding to this list throughout the year.
National Parks and Historic Sites (for free!)
Parks Canada is throwing down the welcome mat with free admission to all of its properties all year long (with a free Discovery Pass). In southeastern Ontario that means unfettered access to over 10 national parks and historic sites, including Thousand Islands National Park and the Rideau Canal, where lock fees will be waived.
Fort Town Memories
Prescott Public Library, Prescott, Ontario
With Fort Wellington, over 75 historic homes and sites, and the St. Lawrence at its doorstep, Prescott definitely has a few stories to tell about the impact it’s had on Canada. Read, listen to and watch close to 100 of them at the public library, where volunteers have been collecting tales about all aspects of life in the over 200-year-old town.
How Brockville Celebrated the Centennial
Until December 30
Brockville Museum, Brockville, Ontario
See how Brockville celebrated Canada’s last big anniversary at this year-long exhibit. Hint: there were lots of parades, pageants and 1867-era costumes. This lighthearted look at Canada’s last big anniversary includes film footage, a memory wall, photos, artifacts and costumes to try on.
Price: By Donation
Light Up Cornwall
Lamoureaux Park, Cornwall Ontario
Cornwall is ringing in the big year with a festival running all winter in its 91-acre waterfront park. Go skating on the pond, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, launch down the hill on a toboggan or build a snowman. Or, if you’re like me, just take a stroll through the park’s paths with a free hot apple cider and maple taffy in hand.
Constructing Our Identities Speaker Series
February 22 – March 15
Fulford Place Museum, Brockville, Ontario
Every Wednesday afternoon between February 22 and March 15, scholars from Queen’s and Carleton universities will hold Canadian-themed talks in Fulford Place’s billiard room. Topics will range from the way toys and TV shaped Canadian identity in the 50s and 60s to the father of Canadian multiculturalism, Watson Kirkonnell.
17th Kingston Canadian Film Festival
March 2 – 5
The largest showcase of Canadian flicks in the world happens every winter in theatres all over Ktown. This year, expect over 30 docs, features and shorts about our people (e.g. “River of My Dreams: A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent”) and our identity (e.g. “Angry Inuk”). Check out the special events, too, like free workshops, concerts from Ben Caplan and others, and even comedy from pros like Cathy Jones (“This Hour Has 22 Minutes”).
1867 Confederation Gala
April 8, 5:30 pm
Glengarry Sports Palace, Alexandria, Ontario
Celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial Celtic style at this fundraiser party for the Glengarry Pioneer Museum. Where your kilts and sporrans (or just semi-formal duds) and enjoy an old-fashioned dinner and dance with live music, a silent auction and a lot of Celtic hospitality.
Quilts on the Seaway
April 21 – 22
St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Cornwall, Ontario
A show featuring special quilts made in guilds across eastern Ontario that depict 150 years of Canadian history. The quilts are travelling to different small towns across the region until the fall, but you’ll get a chance to see all of them at St. John’s Presbyterian in Cornwall in April.
Brockville Multicultural Festival
Brockville Memorial Civic Centre, Brockville, Ontario
This fest all about celebrating the diversity of our people feels more important than ever this year. A weekend salute to music, dance and food from around the world, it’s been attracting visitors from near and far wanting to tap into what makes this country great for 35 years. Exact date not yet available.
Price: Not Yet Available
The Breakout Project
May 10 – 12
Fort Henry, Kingston, Ontario
This 48-hour competition will be Canada’s biggest social innovation event. Teams of entrepreneurs, marketers, engineers and designers will work around the clock to kickstart 365-day social good projects designed to improve our communities, society and planet. Lend them a helping hand alongside thousands of others. Ticket includes access to all venues, parties and a concert in Springer Market Square.
Canada: Something to Sing About
May 12, 7:30 pm
Aultsville Theatre, Cornwall, Ontario
Canada is something to sing about, darn it, and the Centennial Choir of Cornwall will prove it at this concert in St. Lawrence College’s 658-seat theatre. Expect Cape Breton songs, folk songs dating back to the Upper and Lower Canadian rebellions, French Canadian favourites, and many others that’ll take you through 150 years of Canadian history.
Price: $7 – $15
The Great Canadian Cheese Festival
June 3 – 4
The Crystal Palace, Picton, Ontario
Canada is home to some of the best cheesemakers on the planet, and this annual festival brings many of them together alongside artisan food producers for two days of meeting, tasting, buying and learning. As the biggest artisan cheese show in North America, it features over 130 exhibitors and vendors, seminars and events like farm-to-fork meals and chef competitions.
Price: $25 – $50
First Capital Day
Kingston was named the first capital of the Province of Canada on February 10, 1841. While its time as a political centre was short, being first is still occasion to celebrate, no? Expect free hands-on historical displays and activities, plus several interactive exhibitors representing different aspects of life in 1800’s Kingston.
National Aboriginal Day
Thousand Islands National Park Visitor Centre, Mallorytown, Ontario
One of the best places to mark National Aboriginal Day in the region is at Thousand Islands National Park, located in a traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee people. Learn about what the Thousand Islands mean for First Nations people, try Canada’s national summer sport, lacrosse, and sample Labrador tea. And don’t forget: with a free Discovery Pass, you’ll get free entry to the park all year long.
Quinte West Multicultural Week
June 25 – July 1
Quinte West, Ontario
The city of Quinte West isn’t settling for just one day of partying. They’re planning a week-long multicultural bash leading up to Canada Day that’ll include daily celebrations. Details are still being set, but events could include a Francophone music festival, an Aboriginal art festival, an Oktoberfest celebration, a Celtic picnic, and an Italian and Greek food fest.
Canada Day in Southeastern Ontario
Plans are still in the works for Canada Day festivities across southeastern Ontario, but since a 150th birthday only comes around once, you can count on each community truly bringing it this year. Canada’s first capital, Kingston, will host the biggest bash, but almost every other community in the region will celebrate, too. Stay tuned to our events page, thegreatwaterway.com/events, for details.
Rendez-Vous 2017: Tall Ships Regatta
July 7 – 9
From June 30 until August 20, more than 40 tall ships will sail Canadian waters to honour the country’s 150th. Scheduled to stop in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario, the fleet will make its southeastern Ontario port of call in the historic village of Bath. Head to the waterfront and tour these majestic cathedrals of the sea for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see history up close.
Rails to Trails
August 10 – 13
Canada’s rail system is like its backbone, connecting communities all across this great land, so it’s fitting that Brockville, home to Canada’s first railway tunnel, will honour it at this special four-day fest. The centrepiece will be the grand re-opening of the tunnel underneath downtown, but there will also be a vintage carnival, a sideshow and even a 5K run.
Innovation 150: Power of Ideas Exhibition
August 18 – 19
Loyalist Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Kingston, Ontario
Travelling to schools and science centres across the country, this Signature Canada 150 event is all about channeling that inner innovator in all of us. Think immersive, hands-on displays about everything from the world’s largest science experiments to changing ideas about our universe to stories of Canada’s past.
150th Road Rally Celebration
South Frontenac, Ontario
Take a Canada themed road tour through South Frontenac, where locations in each of the four districts will feature special events devoted to a particular province. Locations will include hidden gems, like the train track park in Battersea, Fermoy Hall in Bedford, as well as more well-known venues such as the Point in Sydenham and rally headquarters at Centennial Park in Harrowsmith. Exact date not yet available.
Sesquie for Canada 150
Throughout 2017, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is partnering with orchestras and ensembles across the country for a special pan-Canadian celebration. Over 40 new works — including two-minute pieces called “Sesquies” — will be co-commissioned and presented from coast to coast to coast. Kingston location and concert details not yet available.
Price: Not Yet Available
We’ll keep adding to this list all year, so stay up to date on Canada 150 events in southeastern Ontario by bookmarking this page. In the meantime, head over to our events page for even more things to do.
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