Evergreen forests to ice fields to fields of wheat, rocky coasts to red sand beaches, villages, towns, rural roads, highways, railways: this is Canada. Only part of it, too: there are cities from coast to mountain side to river’s edge to plains, and people with heritage from First Nations tribes, from France, Ireland, Scotland, England, Hungary, Viet Nam, China, the Baltics, and just about everywhere else on the globe. These are Canadians.
If you happen to be reading this in 2017, you’ll want to know that Canada is marking an important anniversary, the 150th anniversary of the the time when representatives of the three provinces which then existed met together in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. There they signed the Articles of Confederation, which was the start of the modern day nation of Canada.
Many events of all sorts are taking place to mark this anniversary. Some are planned around Canada Day on 1 July, and there are others extending through the year and beyond. Among the dozens of events in Ottawa, the capital of the country, will be a concert featuring top Canadian musicians including Gordon Lightfoot and Alanis Morrisette. There will be fireworks in Calgary, and a range of First Peoples events in and around Vancouver. Vancouver is billing its events as Canada 150+ in fact, with the + to acknowledge that First Nations were settled in Canada long before confederation.
The city of Quebec was a going concern before confederation too, and there are events marking the city’s 375th anniversary as well. These include historic images projected on walls across the city in the evenings, the illumination of the Jacques Cartier Bridge, an ongoing series of neighborhood celebrations, and a multi media exhibit honoring musician and Montreal native Leonard Cohen.
Speaking of exhibitions, Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum is the place for a look at how artists from immigrant communities and from First Nations work with the idea of what it mean to be Canadian. Over on Price Edward Island, Parks Canada has created a replica of the chamber where the Act of Confederation was discussed. There’s a film about it too, which includes information about the role of First Peoples and women at the time. At Saint John’s, Newfoundland, people will walk up Signal Hill to greet the first rays of sun touching Canada at dawn on 1 July.
You will also want to know that all through 2017, Parks Canada invites you to request a Discovery Pass. (it’s free) that offers you complimentary admission to every Parks Canada site during the anniversary year. With this pass there is no charge to visit any Parks Canada site, from dark sky reserves to historic forts to wilderness areas.
Will you visit Canada during this celebration year? Is there a favorite place you’d recommend? Let us know in the comments.
Music to accompany your physical or virtual Canadian road trip:
Ian and Sylvia Tyson, from British Columbia and Ontario respectively, created some of the best known and best loved music associated with their home country,songs including Four Strong Winds, You Were on My Mind, Someday Soon, and many others.The duo’s heyday was in the 1960s; they ended their partnership in the 1970s and both went on to successful solo work. Musician Tom Russell decided to mine the pair’s less widely known works, as well as a few pieces from their solo works, to create Play One More: The Songs of Ian and Sylvia.. Along with harmony vocals from Cindy Church and guitar from Grant Siemens, Russell succeeds in evoking the spirit of the land present in the original versions and in honoring the man and woman who created the music. Tracks include Short Grass, Red Velvet, The Night the Chinese Restaurant Burned Down, The Renegade,and When the Wolves No Longer Sing.
Ian and Sylvia’s original recordings are available in digital form now. A good place to hear several of those early hits and a good companion for any road trip is Ian & Sylvia: Best of the Vanguard Years. In addition to their own songs and class versions of traditional pieces, there is Gordon Lightfoot’s Early Morning Rain and Joni Mitchell’s Circle Game — Ian and Sylvia were among the first to record the songs of these now well known fellow Canadians.
Speaking of Gordon Lightfoot, he deserves a place on your Canada road trip playlist too. There are many greatest hits collections and many are good; for this road trip I’d suggest you choose Gord’s Gold . It’s a fine place to learn about a musician whose work crossed folk, pop, rock, country, and blues styles. Listen out for Canadian Railroad Trilogy, Sundown, and Circle of Steel.
Though you might think first of Quebec when it comes to French Canada, there is a strong Acadian presence in the Maritimes to explore. For the Francophone portion of this road trip, take a listen to the group Vishten, who come from Prince Edward Island. Their album Terre Rouge will introduce you to another aspect of Canada’s French language culture. Listen out for Coeur de la Mer, Trois Blizzards, and the title track.
Gaelic is a big part of Canadian music too, especially in Nova Scotia. So is fiddle music. To hear both together, give some time to the recording Seinn, from Gaelic singer Mary Jane Lamond and Fiddler and composer Wendy MacIsaac. The longtime friends have created a fine set of traditional and original tune and song that will set you fair on your way, whatever part of Canada you may travel.
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