A Canada Day tour of the nation

Happy Canada Day! Revellers around the country can expect to a enjoy a scene like this: These are fireworks from 2013 Canada Day celebrations in Toronto. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)

Story by Vacay.ca Staff

Canada celebrates its 147th birthday on July 1 and Vacay.ca has team members in the nation’s four largest metropolitan areas. Here’s what’s happening on Canada Day in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver.


Canada’s largest city has always been a great place to party on Canada Day. One thing that has always made Canada Day in Toronto unique and wonderful is the size of the city itself — with so many neighbourhoods celebrating in their own way, you’re spoiled for choice.

To name just a few: In the Beach, there will be live music, food and beer at an all-day picnic from noon until 9:30 pm, with fireworks at 10 pm. At the Canada Day Festival Park in Scarborough (east end), the Toronto Zoo is hosting info sessions on Canadian animals including polar bears and beavers. From 4 pm until 7 pm, there will be a Canada Day parade starting at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

Toronto’s Harbourfront is planning a Canada Day Extravaganza, with a day of cultural and musical activities on the WestJet Stage. Other spectacular fireworks displays will be celebrated across the GTA, including Canada’s WonderlandMel Lastman Square in North York, and Toronto Ribfest in Etobicoke, where celebrations will take place at the end of the festival.


Free activities abound in Montreal’s Old Port as the Ministry of Canadian Heritage creates a festive lineup for July 1. The show starts at 11 am with a one-hour performance by a military band followed by a Cannon Salute that runs until 1:30 pm. A large Canada Day Cake is cut at noon and kids activities take place throughout the day. At 8:30 pm, a concert featuring Michael Murphy and other performers leads into the fireworks celebration at 10:15 pm.

Of course, Montreal is in the midst of its annual festival season and the celebratory mood runs throughout the city, even if it’s not focused on Canada Day. Free musical and theatrical performances will entertain you around Place des Arts as the 35th annual Montreal Jazz Festival continues its scintillating string of concerts.


With the Calgary Stampede a mere three days away, Canada Day is an excellent primer for Calgary’s main event. The city loves to show off its western hospitality and free events are found throughout the city on July 1. The main action takes place at Fort Calgary, where a pancake breakfast, pony rides and petting zoo entertain families. For the rest of us, the Strathcona Mounted Troop Musical Ride makes a special appearance along with those tasty YYC food trucks.

More events are found downtown — from Chinatown to the East Village, where a street fair entertains pedestrians. Don’t worry about driving and parking. A free shuttle service gets you around to all the main events downtown. As for fireworks, situate yourself on the Centre Street Bridge at 10:45 pm for a bombastic performance. But don’t worry if you miss it, there’ll be nightly displays during the Stampede starting July 4.

More info: Calgary Canada Day


With so many free Canada Day celebrations slated and a weather forecast of brilliant sunshine, Vancouverites and tourists to the west coast will find that picking the right party and forgoing others will be their only difficult choice. Here is a rundown of some highlights:

Canada Place: Canada Day at Canada Place 

Runs from 10 am to 6 pm and includes family fun, music, food and fireworks. Among the highlights is the Citizenship Ceremony, which takes place at 11 am when 60 people will be sworn in as new Canadians. The ceremony will be held at the Celebration stage at the Vancouver Convention Centre East Hall.

Canada Day Parade: The annual Canada Day Parade starts 7 pm at the corner of Georgia and Broughton streets in downtown Vancouver.

Fireworks: At 10:30 pm, two barges will blast fireworks to a patriotic Canadian soundtrack. Listen to the simulcast on Classic Rock 101 or use Port Metro Vancouver’s free mobile app for anywhere access. The barges are located in Coal Harbour and Dundarave in West Vancouver.

Granville Island:  Family fun fills up the tourist attraction’s 35th annual Canada Party. Among the highlights are jazz music, interactive activities for kids, face painting and a parade. Celebrations run from 8 am to midnight. Guests can sing the national anthem at 2 pm at Ron Basford Park. Following the singing of “O, Canada,” cake will be served.

Vancouver Art Gallery: Did you know Cannabis Day also falls on July 1? You can sniff out the celebrations of this coinciding holiday at the art gallery on Georgia and Howe Streets. 

Outside of Vancouver

Surrey Canada Day:  Billed as the “largest celebration in Western Canada,” the 2014 Surrey Canada Day festivities includes many free performances with headliner Matthew Good at 10:30 pm. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend. The event kicks off at 10 am at the Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre at 176 Street and 64th Avenue in Cloverdale.


OTTAWA: Thousands of people are expected to converge on Parliament Hill to mark the country’s birthday. This is a big year for Canada Day in the nation’s capital, as celebrations will highlight the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War and the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown and Québec Conferences.

Among headline musical acts appearing are Serena Ryder from Ontario, Nadja from Quebec, and Brett Kissel from Alberta. Celebrations spill over from Parliament Hill to venues on both sides of the Ottawa River, including Major’s Hill Park near the Parliament buildings and Jacques Cartier Park in downtown Gatineau. A massive fireworks show will wrap up the day.

CHARLOTTETOWN: Named the No. 1 Place to Visit in Canada for 2014 by Vacay.ca, the capital of Prince Edward Island is in the midst of a fantastic summer that celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference, which led to the confederation of Canada. The 68-day sesquicentennial events kick off on July 1 and include a Fun Zone full of activities, games and musical performances. Fireworks culminate the party in Charlottetown.


Vicky is the worldly publisher of Vacay.ca. Having graduated from McGill University in Montreal, she has set about building a talented team of travel experts to deliver to you words and images of the very best places to see and experience in Canada. Based in Yorkville in Toronto, Vicky regularly jet sets around Canada — be sure to catch up with her when she's in your part of the country.

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