In this great big land of the maple leaf, the beaver, The Biebs (@JustinBieber), hockey, curling, and Captain Kirk (Canada’s William Shatner), there’s a groundswell of preparations building to a crescendo. These days who can say they are 150? And which nation out there can boast a sesquicentennial anniversary? The Canada countdown is on!
Canadians will be putting on their dark sunglasses a la 80’s sensation Corey Hart (a Canadian), donning red swim suits (think Pamela Anderson from Baywatch TV-fame, another Canadian), or keeping the stick on the ice like Wayne Gretzky (another Canadian).
Or maybe not.
The Canada countdown has begun and here are some of the ways Canadians will be celebrating. So join the party and bring your toque and a 2-4 eh (that’s Canadian slang for a case of beer!). Here are 10 ways to party like you’re 150.
1-The Canada Musical Mosaic
In a country where music sensations like Neil Young, Drake, Justin Bieber, Alanis Morrissette, Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion and Arcade Fire hail from….what do you think a national soundtrack would sound like?
Well, a country that is 150 will naturally have a broad and varied spectrum of sounds. From Indigenous throat singing to indie, from mainstream pop to classical and to cutting-edge experimental symphonies you can expect new works and thematic programs will be performed by orchestras and bands all across Canada, from coast to coast.
Keep an eye out for the Canada Musical Mosaic concerts from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The TSO will pay tribute to Canadian composers on 21 January 2017, with a programme of works from the mid to late 20th century. Alain Trudel is to conduct works by Ridout, Mercure, Coulthard and Rhapsodie romantique by Andre Mathieu, performed by Canadian pianist Alain Lefevre.
2-Celebrate 24 hours of daylight in the High Arctic
Celebrate in Canada’s newest territory of Nunavut located at the edge of the earth.
Canada’s High Arctic is the land of polar bears, icebergs and the most unforgiving temperatures known to man. But come July 1 on Dominion Day (the old term Canadians used to describe their national holiday), it’ll be the thick of summer.
In the High Arctic, that means one thing: plenty of sunshine with many places encountering 24 hours of daylight.
No wonder the Great White North has been nicknamed “The Land of The Midnight Sun.”
The sun does shine brightly over Nunavut with the sun never completely setting beneath the horizon for four months of the year.
For this surreal sun experience, bring your coolest sunglasses and venture into Canada’s far north to experience the country’s sublime beauty.
3-World-famous Banff Hot Springs
Seasoned travellers (who don’t want to look 150) might like to spend time in Canada’s therapeutic natural thermal hot mineral springs. The best place is Banff Upper Hot Springs in the province of Alberta.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is a top attraction in the Canadian Rockies. Banff Upper Hot Springs has a splendid historic bathhouse located in Banff National Park.
Quick tip: Soak in the hot mineral water early in the morning and enjoy the serene beauty of the Rockies.
Next quick tip: If you don’t want your skin to look like a shrivelled up prune, jump out of the hot water after 10 minutes. Otherwise, the longer you soak the more chance you might actually look like 150 years old!
4-Revel in British Columbia’s Rockies
Kootenay National Park is a stunning national park in the Canadian Rockies with glorious canyons known as Marble Canyon and Sinclair Canyon.
This spectacular region is the western edge of the Rockies is the only national park where you can see a fabulous geographic area called the Rocky Mountain Trench, which is a large valley that is visually stunning.
One way to enjoy this natural backdrop is to camp at the Marble Canyon campgrounds.
The lead up to Canada Day 2017 is a great time to beat your chest like Bigfoot (that’s a local legend of a massive hairy simian rarely seen) or give a primordial growl or throw in a yodel into the vast canyon.
You might even get the attention of an elk, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. But be prepared to be awestruck in a canyon well over 150 years old.
5-Dinosaur Provincial Park Alberta
For bragging rights on longevity, how about a visit to Canada’s most famous boneyard? Canada’s Badlands is in the province of Alberta and truly is another world.
Revered as the world’s richest deposit of dinosaur bones, the striking area is 75 million years old. It dates back to a time when the climate in pre-Canada was subtropical and there was a warm inland sea.
These days, the lunar-like landscape is more like a desert full of rocky drumlins.
During Canada’s big celebration year, consider a tour of this special spot of terra firma. Register for an interpretive tour program or, if you’re travelling in a group, book a custom tour package. From bus tours to family programs to guided hikes, there are plenty of programs to choose from.
6-The Northern Lights
What better way to celebrate Canada’s 150th year than being mesmerised by Mother Nature’s light show?
For natural technicolour, nothing beats the super galactic phenomenon of the Northern Lights dancing across the horizon.
The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights come out late at night. And depending on your location, weather and other factors you just might be lucky enough to experience one of nature’s most impressive shows.
Canada’s North has many fabulous locations for night sky viewing. The best Northern Lights viewing times vary.
Popular places are the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Churchill, Alberta, Nunavut and in Melfort, Saskatchewan. This northeastern city in the prairie province of Saskatchewan is called “The City of the Northern Lights” due to the frequency in which they appear.
7-Bay of Fundy
For the highest roaring tides in the world and a place that’ll certainly make you want to applaud and cheer, the thrills of the Bay of Fundy – off the coast of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick – will make Canada’s big birthday bash a memorable one.
Considered among the 7 Wonders of North America, Canada’s natural wonder has over 160 billion tonnes of water moving in and out of the Bay of Fundy, every day…. twice a day. It has the world’s highest tides (up to 16m or a five-storey building).
In this Mother Nature out-of-this-world experience, the best place to feel like you’re 150 is at Hopewell Rocks.
Walk around the flowerpot rocks at low tide, bike along the Fundy Trail, then return to the rocks six hours later to see the high tide to see them disappear.
Do some insane rappelling at Cape Enrage (you’ll understand the place name once you complete the adrenaline-induced jump). And after all those outdoor adventures, camp in solitude at Fundy National Park.
The Hopewell Rocks entrance fee is valid for two consecutive days, which means you can return at any time during that period to see both the high and low tides.
8-The Pugwash Peace Trail
Discover the past, protect the present, and enrich the future: the new slogan of this new trail system in Nova Scotia says it all.
The Pugwash Peace Trail erected by the Friends of Pugwash is a project to commemorate the 150th anniversary.
The 35-km trail encircles the Pugwash River Estuary which is considered a jewel in the crown of Atlantic Canada for its highly sought-after oceanfront property rich in forest and marshland.
Along this ribbon of nature, expect to see signage describing Mi’kmaq sites. There are Acadian farms, salt water marshes, eel grass beds and a variety of flora and fauna inhabit this Estuary.
So to feel 150 years young, be one of the first to hike this new hiking trail system, which has the warmest waters north of the Carolinas and the largest estuary along the Northumberland Strait of Nova Scotia.
9-Canada countdown in Ottawa
No list would be complete if we missed the nation’s capital. Located in the province of Ontario, on the Ottawa River, with the province of Quebec next door, Canada’s capital will have the grand-daddy of all parties.
10-Canadian cuisine in Gatineau
For foodie lovers, you can’t beat a picnic. In this grand cook-out in neighbouring Gatineau, across the border from its sister city of Ottawa, the Alexandra Bridge and Laurier Avenue will be ‘the’ place to tuck in and toast Canada’s sesquicentennial.
This interprovincial culinary extravaganza won’t make you feel 150 but you might gain a few pounds as you dine alfresco style overlooking the Parliament Buildings by the Ottawa River.
It’ll be a Picnic on the Bridge like it’s never been done before. The date: July 2. Please make plans to come over and join the party. We want to hear you say Happy Birthday Canada!
Ilona Kauremszky is an award-winning travel writer who was born in the same province as Justin Bieber. She lives in Toronto where she’s likely to be listening to good music in 2017.
Looking for more ideas on where to go in Canada? Here are some to get you started on your quest to join the Canada countdown.