Enjoy a view of the Parliament buildings and dinner with Pierre Elliot Trudeau in your own backyard
by Charlotte Ottaway
The True North Strong and Free have much to celebrate as we decorate the calendar with festivals and events to commemorate the country’s sesquicentennial. Fortunately, the towns of Newmarket, Aurora and Oak Ridges know how to throw a party. This July 1st is bound to be one of the biggest Canada Day celebrations the area has ever seen.
“For me, it’s celebrating a country that my parents chose to pursue a better life in,” says Newmarket Mayor Tony Van Bynen, who first arrived in Canada as a two-year-old immigrant of Dutch descent. “What makes this important to me is we’re celebrating the opportunity that Canada offers to people who are willing to commit themselves to such a great country.”
“I think all Canadians and visitors to Canada are deeply fortunate to be in this country,” says Shelley Ware, Special Events Supervisor with the Town of Aurora. “Some Canadians may celebrate Canada on Canada Day, but the significance of Canada150 will encourage Canadians to reflect appreciatively for what we have throughout this entire sesquicentennial year.”
And there is no shortage of events inviting Canadians to do exactly that. Newmarket’s 150 Days of Summer campaign has already begun, offering guests the chance to purchase a button for $10 which will provide access to promotions and perks at all Town of Newmarket events, including free rides on the Ferris wheel and merry-go-round—the newest attractions added to the annual Kanata Festival on Main Street—upgraded popcorn at Moonlight Movies, free refreshments at Music in the Park, and more.
Aurora invites families to participate in the town’s Canada150 event on July 1st with a passport, which provides access to “travel” from province-to-province and territory-to-territory, where guests can participate in interactive activities reflective of each location. For example, the Ontario stop showcases a rendition of the Parliament Buildings, along with a selfie station where travellers can sit in Muskoka chairs in front of Parliament Hill and pretend they’re in Ottawa for the day. “I’m looking forward to seeing the execution and how it all rolls out,” says Ware. “I’m hoping Mother Nature will be our biggest sponsor this year.”
The Concerts in the Park series in Aurora also celebrates a Canadiana theme, supporting only Canadian artists and songwriters. And the town is holding its first ever New Beginnings Pow Wow this year, featuring an opportunity to learn about the Indigenous communities with traditional dancing, drumming, food and various multicultural performers.
“From an advancement of Canadians’ Rights and Freedoms to the celebration of more equal opportunities for women, to the reconciliation of Indigenous people, this year is an opportunity to connect with one another more meaningfully while considering an even better future for all Canadians,” says Alex Karolyi, owner of Shadowpath Theatre Productions in Newmarket.
Shadowpath is commemorating the milestone with its Dinner with Canada series, featuring three seasonal dinners that include traditional Canadian cuisine, and a theatrical reflection on proud moments in Canadian history. This includes Dinner With Pierre Elliot Trudeau in Vaughan on June 18th, Dinner With Viola Desmond at Newmarket’s Old Town Hall on August 6th, and Dinner With Louis Riel in Markham on November 26th. “I’m proud to be a Canadian and to create original, creative content inspired by Canadian icons,” Karolyi says.
As for the official birthday celebration, Karolyi plans to take the day off work to celebrate her country. “I’ll find a place with fireworks and picnic all day with my favourite Canadian wine and snacks,” she says.
Speaking of fireworks, Fairy Lake Park will host its annual display along with live music performed by The Elwins, a Canadian indie-rock band from Keswick.
Mayor Van Bynen will be joining around 10,000 residents of Newmarket crowding Main Street on Canada Day. “I always look forward to singing O’ Canada, although I’m not sure the audience appreciates my talent as much as I do,” he jokes. “But what I enjoy most about [Main Street on Canada Day] is it’s a great opportunity to have conversations with people to talk about what’s important to them. And you bump into so many of your friends that you haven’t seen in a long while.”
What better way to celebrate our country than alongside the friends and family who make it home?
Town of Aurora
Town of Newmarket
Shadowpath Theatre Productions