Canada Day celebrated in the Nation’s Capital
Canada Day is a celebration of everything this country is, and there are few places better suited for this than Ottawa. Live bands perform on Parliament Hill, and the streets of downtown are closed to traffic.
People with varying degrees of sobriety (or inebriation) walk, mingle and cheer. The town is abuzz with patriotic positivism.
Martyr decided to head to the middle of the action to see what all the fuss was about. Just how is Canada’s birthday celebrated in its capital?
The buskers were out in full force performing for the enjoyment of people passing by, and the odd bit of change. A man who was performing classical guitar at one intersection described the craft perfectly
“We come from all over the world, Australia, Europe, The United States, even Canada. But we have one thing in common, a love of performing for people.”
As the crowd watches him play several Romanian girls begin to dance to his music. The crowd joyfully claps along to the music, and you can absolutely see what the young performer is talking about.
A little further away from the epicentre of the action, on Sparks street there are stages set up where local acts perform. Patios were set up on the street, and people with fresh afternoon buzzes shouted requests to nobody in particular.A man in a soccer jersey demanded that somebody, anybody, play “Free Bird!” but his request was cut short by a sudden and torrential downpour of rain.
Pedestrians ran for cover as the rain came in sideways, a tornado warning was issued but the party went on! Huddled under an awning, a man visiting from England summed up the situation.
“Back home, this is a beautiful summer day!” he began, ramping up the enthusiasm , “as long as you’ve got a pint you’ve got no concerns, mate”
Indeed, it would appear that the sky itself would not stop the party. And sure enough, the rain stopped and people ventured back out into the world.The evening brought performances by Video Girl, Serena Ryder, and others, on a stage set up on Parliament Hill. There are very few things that get people’s attention more than Native American chants blaring over speakers, with a heavy bass backing. The day took a turn from casual exuberance to jubilance.
Children danced with their parents, as teenagers bopped up and down. A mom with her young child described the scenario.
“Parenthood doesn’t mean you stop loving your country! This party is for everyone!”
As you walked away from the action on the hill, the performances continued, with rap battles on Rideau Street. Heading towards the Byward market, you heard the ubiquitous sounds of house bands playing on the patios of the bars.
As the sun set, several pyrotechnic displays began. A shirtless man draped in a Canadian flag and sporting a Viking beard casually strolled down the street full of people. In one hand, a tallboy of Molson Canadian, the other had a lit roman candle in it. People alternately ducked in cover and howled in laughter as balls of flame soared past them.
“That was the scariest and possibly most amazing assault I’ve ever seen” declared a woman who would only identify herself as the life of the party.
Heading back towards the hill, you could see other explosions in the sky as people fired off their own supply. But the best was yet to come- the official show had just begun.
People stopped wherever they were, as if some sort of rapture were occurring. They gazed at the sky as the city’s famous fireworks began.“I haven’t missed this in 40 years, it’s like a legacy” states a man named Roger. “I brought my kids, and now they bring theirs!”
That sums up the day’s events accurately. People from all walks of life, with many different beliefs come together to celebrate. From life-long Canadians, to those who have just recently arrived.
“We’ve only been here for just over a year this is our first Canada Day, looking forward to many more.”
A smiling couple from Jamaica tells Martyr this, and that’s the heart of the issue. For one night, the city, and the country came together to focus on the good.
Even the police guarding each closed intersection were in good spirits.
“There are some bad elements, but mainly people are just having fun. This is my favourite event to cover. I get a free show, too!”
It’s impossible to accurately describe the feelings and emotions on the street, but the smiles on people’s faces are testament enough.
For one night, the individual gave way to the greater good, and celebration ruled the day.
Story by Brian Talmey, Photos by Alexander Vlad