As a general rule, my celebration of Canada Day (July 1) tends to be fairly low-key. I might don some red clothing, attend a backyard party, or, when I’m feeling more energetic, attend the fun festivities at Canada Place.
However, this year is going to be different, as July 1, 2017 will mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation, when the Dominion of Canada was officially proclaimed (British Columbia joined later in 1871). Leading up to the big day, gatherings of various scales will be occurring across the city and across the nation.
The Yaletown Business Improvement Association is organizing and sponsoring a number of events, as well as a contest, as part of Canada’s 150th birthday. They’re calling the entire initiative #YaletownHeartsCanada.
It kicks off this weekend on Sunday, May 21, 2017, when the famed Engine 374 will be the site of a free, family-friendly festival, co-sponsored by the Yaletown BIA and the West Coast Railway Association. The Engine Pavilion is located next to the Roundhouse Community Centre (corner of Davie Street and Pacific Boulevard). The Pavilion is open year round, with free admission.
Engine 374 holds a significant place in Canadian and BC history since it pulled the very first transcontinental passenger train into Vancouver on May 23, 1887. The promise of this railway was a motivating factor for BC to enter Confederation. Its completion marked the realization of the dream of joining the country from one coast to the other with a railway. The hard-working Engine eventually was retired in 1945 and, refurbished, is permanently housed at its Yaletown location.
On May 21, the event, which will run from noon to 3pm, will feature a brass band, the chance to interact with the train, and kids’ crafts and activities. Free t-shirts and Frisbees marking the Yaletown 150 initiative will also be available (get there early since it’s only until supplies last)
If you’re loathe to see the party end, you’re in luck. From June 26 to June 30 (11am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm), Yaletown’s Bill Curtis Square (Mainland and Davie Street) will be the location for free outdoor jazz performances as part of the Canada 150 lead-up. The concert series, “Let’s Hear It For Yaletown” will feature Canadian jazz bands (stay tuned for the line-up of artists).
Finally, Canada’s 150th birthday might be getting you thinking about what endears Canada to you. If so, you might want to enter the The Great Yaletown Bike Giveaway. Basically, you post photos and videos on Instagram and Facebook showing what you love about Canada, using the hashtag #YaletownHeartsCanada (see on-line for full rules). I’m curious about the kind of pics people will post. So far, there are lots of photos of natural beauty. Thirteen (celebrating the number of provinces and territories) winners will receive a Raleigh bike and a custom fitting from Yaletown’s Reckless Bikes. The contest runs until May 31, so there’s still time to enter!