Canada celebrates its 150th birthday on Saturday, marking the day in 1867 that the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia merged to form a self-governing state.
Later joined by Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island and the territories of Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, Canada is now more than 37 million people strong and boasts an economy of US$1.57 trillion and growing.
On Saturday the country is throwing a party worthy of its stature, including celebrations across all of the country’s six time zones, from Newfoundland in the east to the Yukon Territory in the northwest.
The “ultimate party,” according to the Canadian government, will be on Parliament Hill and nearby venues in the country’s capital, Ottawa.
Celebrations in the morning will feature Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor General David Johnston, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla as well as performances by singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie and U2 band members Bono and The Edge, topped off with an air show.
The evening show will then feature a performance by singer Gordon Lightfoot and a 20-minute “pyromusical” fireworks show.
The National Arts Centre in Ottawa will also celebrate its re-opening on Saturday and Sunday, after undergoing an US$84 million renovation.
The national celebrations are the culmination of months of events marking Canada’s sesquicentenary, including citizenship reaffirmation ceremonies and celebrations highlighting the country’s aboriginals and multiculturalism.
Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, has sponsored a year-long program of celebrations, commemorations and exhibitions that the city dubbed its “cultural love letter to the country.”
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce are also holding a contest for Canadians to submit what makes them proud of their country. The winners will be awarded with a chance to enjoy one of Canada’s “unique adventures,” like the Canadian Rockies, Quebec City or a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Another contest challenged the country’s youth to explore Canada’s culture and identity and share their vision of the future through art, photography and creative writing. The winners ranged in age from 9 to 18.