Canada celebrates its birthday on July 1st every year. In 1867 on that very day, Canada became a new federation with its own constitution, which is clearly much reason to celebrate. For Canadians, Canada Day not only celebrates the birth of the country so many years ago but for many, it is the true start to the summer season. Firework displays light up the sky in cities and towns across the great North. Families ensure the pool is filled for splashing and the BBQ is hot and fired up for family and friends to gather in celebration. And in the capital city, Ottawa, the festivities are alive and vibrant. If you are planning to spend Canada Day in Canada, the place to be is the heart of the country.
Located in the eastern province of Ontario, Ottawa lies on the banks of the Ottawa River. The political and technological centre of the country is a constant hub of activity both in winter and summer. Ice skate down the Rideau Canal on a crisp blue winter day during Winterlude, the largest festival in the country and wander the many lush green historic streets in summer as you encounter the magnificent Parliament buildings standing proudly in the centre of Downtown Ottawa.
A tour of Parliament Hill is the best education in Canadian politics and policy so plan to some time spent in the historic buildings, including the Library of Parliament and the Peace Tower. And after you’ve had your fill of politicians, head to the Byward Market, one of the oldest and largest public markets in the country. Just a short stroll from the Hill you will enjoy the abundant local produce for sale in the many farmers stalls. Summer in Ontario is all about fresh stone fruit and berries so fill your bellies with lovely fresh strawberries and peaches. Many of Ottawa’s best restaurants are located in the Byward Market area making this the place to set your sights on dinner plans. Local arts and crafts vendors sells their individual creations all over the market so look for the ideal souvenir to take home as remembrance of your time in Ottawa.
No capital city is complete without Arts and Culture and Ottawa is home to some the country’s finest museums and galleries. With sweeping views of the Parliament buildings, The National Gallery of Canada is home to a large and varied collection with a focus on Canadian works. In the adjacent city of Hull, Quebec, literally a short walk across a bridge, one of the most impressive museums in the country can be found. The Museum of Civilization seeks to educate Canadians’ and visitors about the events and experiences of the people indigenous to the land. The amazing installations truly tell the story of the country and the Canadian people. A visit here will certainly leave you with a wealth of knowledge about the people who have called Canada home for centuries.
Live music wafts through the streets of town during the summer and patios are open to stop and try a local microbrew beer along with poutine, a Canadian staple dish comprised of fries, gravy and cheese curds. And on July 1, Ottawa pulls out all the stops to truly celebrate the nation in style. A giant patriotic party takes place on the lawns in front of Parliament, Canadians taking the time to remember and celebrate the history of this great land. Music wafts from a giant stage all day long with a break only at noon to sing the National Anthem, Oh Canada followed by a flyby by Canada’s Snowbirds aerobatics team accompanied by military aircraft. Capping off the day is a massive fireworks finale that can be seen from all over downtown. To be in Ottawa on Canada Day is perhaps the most iconic way to appreciate Canada and if you plan to be in Ontario this July, Ottawa hosts the perfect kick off to summertime fun.