Summer Shen waves a Canadian flag while sporting a patriotic outfit during Canada Day celebrations in Vancouver, on July 1, 2019. The true north remains just as strong but might not feel quite as free with Canada Day celebrations being a little quieter and physically distant as people keep their guard up against COVID-19. From coast to coast to coast the usual festivities, parades and fireworks that accompany Canada Day have been cancelled in many communities this year because of COVID-19, but Canadians are still finding ways to mark the country’s birthday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Summer Shen waves a Canadian flag while sporting a patriotic outfit during Canada Day celebrations in Vancouver, on July 1, 2019. The true north remains just as strong but might not feel quite as free with Canada Day celebrations being a little quieter and physically distant as people keep their guard up against COVID-19. From coast to coast to coast the usual festivities, parades and fireworks that accompany Canada Day have been cancelled in many communities this year because of COVID-19, but Canadians are still finding ways to mark the country’s birthday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Despite pandemic, country figuring out different ways to celebrate Canada Day

People are finding ways to come together safely

The true north remains just as strong but might not feel quite as free with Canada Day celebrations being a little quieter and physically distant as people keep their guard up against COVID-19.

From coast to coast to coast the usual festivities, parades and fireworks that accompany Canada Day have been cancelled in many communities this year because of COVID-19, but Canadians are still finding ways to mark the country’s birthday.

In British Columbia, orchestra conductor Stuart Martin said he knew his neighbours were curious about what he was doing in his backyard when one peered over the fence as he pointed his baton and wildly moved his arms.

The neighbours couldn’t know, but the musical director of the Surrey City Orchestra was conducting his orchestra’s Canada Day virtual version of “O Canada” while standing on the grass.

The finished product is a unique version of the national anthem played by 28 musicians who have been missing each other due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“On this particular day, I had a neighbour peak over the fence trying to figure out what I was doing,” said Martin. “It’s an amusing thing to watch, but when the video’s all together it actually kind of looks like an orchestra. It was pretty neat.”

The Surrey City Orchestra was billed to perform in Surrey on Canada Day, but the pandemic cancelled the celebrations on Wednesday, he said.

Orchestra members suggested producing a virtual recording and each member recorded “O Canada,” with their parts all being stitched together for the final production, said Martin. The videos shows some people recording from their balconies, living rooms and yards.

“At first I was skeptical that we could pull this thing together in such a short time or whether or not it would sound any good,” Martin said. “I think it’s really great.”

He said this is the first time he’s been part of a recording of “O Canada.” The experience, especially during a pandemic, will make for a memorable Canada Day, Martin said.

“Overall, as distinct as Canada Day is going to be this year, I think connecting virtually is something that we’re all really starting to enjoy and really starting to cherish,” he said.

“This is just kind of an extended version of a Zoom meeting.”

READ MORE: Artists pull out of Surrey’s virtual Canada Day event as anti-racism petition grows

In Montreal, sibling singer-songwriters Rufus and Martha Wainwright will be among the artists playing to an empty house at the city’s iconic Olympic Stadium.

In a 60-minute, pre-recorded show promoted as an “immersive experience,” performers will take to the stage at centre field of the massive multi-purpose venue.

The lineup also includes Quebec-based artists Charlotte Cardin, Hubert Lenoir and Patrick Watson, as well as Inuit folk singer Elisapie.

Interspersed with the musical acts will be speeches from politicians, including Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante and federal Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault, along with every-day Montrealers describing their vision of the city and the country.

Promoters call it a “historic event,” describing it as “the first show without an audience in the centre of the Olympic Stadium grounds.”

Toronto has moved its Canada Day celebrations online starting with a pancake breakfast at 9 a.m.

Mayor John Tory will be participating in a full-day of festivities that includes Jully Black, Kardinal Offishall and Gordon Lightfoot, among others.

Meanwhile in Hamilton, the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum may do a flyover, weather permitting.

In New Brunswick, the RB Bennett Commemorative Centre in Hopewell Cape will celebrate the 150th birthday of the 11th Canadian prime minister on Wednesday.

Bennett led the country through the Great Depression, and instituted some of the most recognizable changes to Canadian culture, including the Statute of Westminster Act (1931), the establishment of the CBC, Bank of Canada, Canadian Wheat Board, and employment insurance.

Dawne McLean, president of the Historical Society, said the celebrations will end on Friday, which is Bennett’s actual birth date.

On Canada Day, 150 cupcakes will be given to the first 150 guests at the centre.

Programs will be held outdoors, and will include the unveiling of newly acquired Bennett artefacts donated to the Albert County Museum, a video greeting the former prime minister’s nephew, William Herridge, and live music featuring the local group Fundy Ceilidh.

On the West Coast in Victoria, Mayor Lisa Helps said the virtual program this year aims to reflect the diversity of experiences in the country and the city.

The crowd-sourced content will be sprinkled throughout the show, with members of the community demonstrating “What it means to Me to be Canadian” and singing “O Canada,” she said.

“With everything we have experienced locally and as a country due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, this is a Canada Day we won’t soon forget,” Helps said.

“Even though we can’t physically be together on the legislature lawn, we can still come together virtually to celebrate Canada’s diversity and its strengths.”

— With files from Dirk Meissner in Victoria.

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Canada DayCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maureen Thom holds a can of Suck it Cancer Pale Ale and a heart created by her son Michael ‘Chili’ Thom when he was in kindergarten. (Submitted photo)
Backcountry Brewing creates limited edition beer to fundraise for BC Cancer Foundation

Squamish based beer company Backcountry Brewing has released a limited edition batch… Continue reading

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ staff and trustees held their annual general board meeting Dec. 2 via Microsoft Teams. (SD68 image)
Nanaimo Ladysmith school district chairperson retains role, new vice-chair chosen

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools held annual general meeting Wednesday

The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary is taking a pro-active approach and closing the thrift shop as a precautionary measure as of Saturday. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop closing again as a precautionary measure

Second closure this year will last at least six weeks due to the COVID situation

Jon Lefebure went back to construction after losing the 2018 mayor’s post in North Cowichan to work on the Cottages On Willow. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Former North Cowichan mayor retools priorities with construction project

Fresh air a benefit and satisfaction results from building eight-unit housing complex

Protesters stand in front of a truck carrying logs to the WFP Ladysmith log sort. (Cole Schisler photo)
Protesters block entrance to Western Forest Products in Ladysmith

Blockade cleared by Ladysmith RCMP around noon, December 2

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
City of Nanaimo dismantles downtown homeless encampment after fire

Four to six tents burned up in Wesley Street fire Thursday, Dec. 3

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

Most Read