Events to help you celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday

Canada wooden sign with mountains background.
(gustavofrazao / Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Canada turns 150 years on July 1 and the world’s second-biggest country is planning a full year of birthday bashes.

But first, a flash history lesson: North America’s first successful colony, New France, was established in 1605 in what is now Nova Scotia — yes, the French were here first — but what Canada is tooting its horn about throughout 2017 is Canadian Confederation.

That’s when the Province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined together as the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.

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It continued to add territories and provinces until Newfoundland signed on in 1949 to create what is today’s Canada.

Although the epicenter of the sesquicentennial — “sesquie” for short — celebration is in the national capital of Ottawa and most activities are local and community-based, there are many fun, educational, creative and crazy events taking place from coast to coast to coast (Pacific to Atlantic to Arctic).

Here are a few to get you started, in no particular order.

Across Canada

Canada 150 Red Couch Tour

The Canada 150 Red Couch Tour will represent a different kind of couch potato. In one of the more unusual birthday celebrations, organizers hauling a red couch 13,000 miles across Canada in an RV will collect testimonies from people about what Canada means to them, presented as an exhibit and video. Info: Red Couch Tour

Winnipeg, Manitoba, and across Canada

Art Express’d

The stellar Winnipeg Art Gallery is transforming three 20-foot shipping containers into mobile art studios as Art Express’d to travel across every province and territory, stopping in 15 communities throughout summer. Contemporary artists on board will lead collaborative art-making projects about Canada. A fourth studio remains at The Forks in Winnipeg. Info: Art Express’d

Edmonton, Alberta

The Dream We Form By Being Together

Instead of taking a Eurocentric narrative that ignores the story of Canada’s aboriginal people, the Borealis Gallery’s sesquicentennial exhibit in Edmonton’s provincial Legislature Building, “The Dream We Form By Being Together,” is celebrating Canada’s longer history, its many boundaries (both real and perceived) and its dark past and shared future with First Nations. It runs June 29 to Oct. 9. Info: The Dream We form By Being Together

Toronto and across Canada

Canada Mosaic: Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Throughout 2017, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra is hosting a national celebration of Canada’s diverse musical landscape —the Canada Mosaic — from indigenous to indie, classical to cutting-edge as well as innovative collaborations. The symphony and more than 40 orchestras across Canada will perform 45 concerts of new works and thematic programs. Info: Canada Mosaic

British Columbia to Newfoundland

Cycling Across Canada

Pedal a section or two of a three-month-long, 5,000-mile cross-Canada cycling adventure. Cycling Across Canada, complete with vehicle and staff support, launches June 3 on the Haida Gwaii islands off British Columbia’s northwest coast, crossing the Rockies and Prairies and arriving Sept. 8 in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on the Atlantic coast. Info: Cycling Across Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia

Long Table Canadian Supper

Enjoy Canadian comfort food family-style every night of the year at Vancouver’s Timber Restaurant’s Long Table Canadian Suppers. Sip local craft beer before tucking into such classics as deep-fried cheese curds and bison burgers. For dessert, roast your own marshmallows over a campfire to make your own s’mores. Info: Long Table Canadian Suppers


Canadian Mosaic

Since 2008, Tim Van Horn has traveled across Canada photographing 54,000 people from 1,200 communities for his Canadian Mosaic project. On May 20, he sets off on a yearlong trip to 150 communities across Canada in a “magical mobile education pavilion,” a traveling festival. On July 1, a mosaic of his portraits that create a massive Maple Leaf flag will be unveiled in Ottawa. Info: Canadian Mosaic


Cultural Connector

A new scenic pathway/bikeway called the Cultural Connector is being launched at Whistler, B.C., for a glimpse into the area’s culture from First Nations, pioneers, adventurers and visionaries to free spirits and creators who settled here and shaped the resort into what it is today. Info: Cultural Connector

Stratford, Ontario

The Breathing Hole

The Breathing Hole, a play commissioned for Canada’s sesquicentennial, premieres at the Stratford Festival, an internationally recognized annual repertory theater festival since 1952. The play explores the history of interactions between the High Arctic Inuit people and Europeans from 1534 to present day. It runs July 30-Sept. 22. Info: The Breathing Hole

Across Canada

The Great Trail

The Great Trail (formerly the TransCanada Trail) will be completed this year, a 13,300-mile route for walking, skiing, biking, riding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or paddling. The world’s longest recreational trail is a work decades in the making and will link three oceans and every province and territory through urban, rural and wilderness regions. Info: The Great Trail


Montreal 375

While Canada celebrates 150 years, the city is focusing on sending up fireworks for Montreal 375, the anniversary of its founding, illuminating bridges, performing circus in the streets, creating urban beaches and city walking paths, highlighting history and launching concerts and cultural events throughout the summer. Info: Montreal 375

Across Northern Canada

Canadian Artic Aviation Tour

Canadians living in the remote Arctic don’t see many air shows coming their way, but the Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour will change that with a series of almost 100 air shows from June 2 to Aug. 18 across the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Quebec and Labrador, Newfoundland. Info: Canadian Arctic Aviation Tour

Various locations

Canada 150: A Country in the Telling

The Academy Award-winning National Film Board of Canada launches Canada 150: A Country in the Telling, three projects for 2017. “Aabiziingwashi” is a cross-country screening tour of works by indigenous filmmakers. Special online programming of “1 Nation. 4 Lenses” explores Canadians from four perspectives. “#Legacies 150” is four interactive photo essays about Canadians sharing personal reflections on the country’s past and future. Info: Canada 150: A Country in the Telling

Gatineau, Quebec

Hockey Is More Than Just a Game

Canadian Museum of History

For millions of Canadians hockey is more than just a game; it’s also the title of a Hockey Is More Than Just a Game, a special exhibition devoted to the national sport at the Canadian Museum of History running until Oct. 9 in Gatineau, across the river from Ottawa. Info: Hockey Is More than Just a Game

Various locations

Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta

During a 7,000-nautical mile transatlantic regatta that is visiting six countries, more than 40 tall ships will sail Canadian waters during the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta honoring the 150th anniversary. Expect to see them in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes — in Halifax July 28 — 31. Info: Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta

Yukon, Northwest Territory, Nunavut, Newfoundland

Across the Top of Canada

Edible Canada, the nation's largest culinary tourism company, is leading a weeklong flying tour Across the Top of Canada to the country’s Far North with stops in Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit and St. John’s. Meals with local ingredients and themes at each destination will be crafted by some of the country’s most celebrated chefs. June 16-23. Info: Across the Top of Canada

Across Canada

Canada 150 Mosaic

When complete, more than 100,000 people in all provinces and territories will have contributed to the Canada 150 Mosaic project creating 150 murals across the country, each made up of hundreds of small painted tiles. If and when those murals are united they would make one continuous scene the length of four football fields. Meanwhile, they remain in their communities. Info: Canada 150 Mosaic


A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles

Want to get your Canuck lingo skills up to scratch before a visit? The second edition of “A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles” was launched just in time for Canada’s 150th after 11 years of labor. Not bad, eh? Info: A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles

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