July 1

La fête du Canada day - in Canada’s capital region

For Canadians, Canada Day is the ideal time to express their pride in being citizens of Canada. The year 2008 was no exception, as the Canadians commemorated the 400th anniversary of the founding of Québec City, the 250th anniversary of parliamentary democracy in Nova Scotia, the 150th anniversary of the founding of British Columbia and the 141st birthday of Canada.
Of course, we were all very pleased to be in Ottawa on July 1st and we fully participated in the Canadian celebrations. However, before taking part in the festivities, we had to find some decent “Red & White” clothing to mix in with the crowd. This turned out to be quite easy and after fully equipping ourselves with the national colors, nobody could separate us from real Canadians anymore.
Except for the fact that alcohol is not allowed on the streets, Canada day in Ottawa is somewhat comparable to Queens day in Amsterdam: it’s very crowded (over 300,000 people in the city centre) and there’s a lot of different things to do and see, including workshops, concerts, demonstrations and performances. In addition, there was free entrance to all museums and some of us visited the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the National Gallery of Canada. Moreover, because of the beautiful weather, most of us preferred to be outside: lying in the park or drinking beers on one of the many terraces. The evening program included some amazing concerts on parliament hill. We enjoyed the performances of some apparently famous Canadian bands and artists, such as Paul Brandt, Danny Boudreau and Diane Dufresne. Some of us had hoped that the final act would be Amy Winehouse, but instead there was a Brian Adams-like artist (Blue Rodeo?), who closed the evening program. And then, after the anthem -at exactly 10.10 pm- there was an amazing fireworks show that went on for at least 20 minutes!
Surprisingly, most of the Canadians went home immediately after the fireworks. However -fortunately- some bars stayed open until late, so that some of us could continue the Canadian party with some interesting drunk Canadians. (Mark de Been)