Canada celebrates 150 years

Photo of Gemma Nisbet

Canada is in party mode in 2017, with special events, free entry to national parks and some travel deals. 

From fireworks in Victoria in the west to music by indigenous and francophone artists in Yellowknife in the north and circus performances in St John’s in the east, New Year’s Eve saw celebrations across Canada to see in a significant year in the country’s history.

In 2017 Canada marks the 150th anniversary of confederation — the union of the British provinces of Canada (now Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on July 1, 1867, which created the Dominion of Canada. 

This year will see events across the nation, which has grown from those original provinces to 10 provinces and three territories, making it the world’s second-largest country by total area.

The celebrations are diverse in scope, from LandMarks2017, a collaborative contemporary art project which will see works displayed in national parks, historic sites and urban green spaces during the Canadian summer, to the Rendez-vous Naval 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, a transatlantic race in which a fleet of historic tall ships from around the world will sail from the UK from April, stopping in various countries and more than 30 Canadian ports, including a major celebration in Quebec City in July.

Cities and towns around Canada will also host their own festivities. Capital city Ottawa, for example, has everything from a major street theatre production called La Machine to a large-scale celebration featuring Canadian food along with musical and theatrical performances to mark Canada Day on July 1. Then in July, there’s Sky Lounge, a gourmet experience at a table suspended 45m above the ground. 

Celebrations in Vancouver include long-table Canadian dinners featuring bison burgers and local craft beers, and special theatre productions bringing Canadian culture to the stage. In Toronto, there are plans to recruit 1500 musicians to form the world’s biggest rock band for an event called Canada Rocks 150.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary, Parks Canada is offering free admission to all its parks in 2017 — which include not only the likes of Banff, Jasper and Glacier national parks, but also Park Canada’s national marine conservation areas and national historic sites. 

To take advantage, order a free 2017 Discovery Pass in advance online at (shipping is free) or obtain one once you arrive. You will only need one per family or group travelling together, but there’s still a fee for camping and other services.

The Rocky Mountaineer train — one of Canada’s great tourism experiences — has also come to the party. It’s offering up to $600 per couple in added value to spend on dining, cruising, sightseeing and more with new bookings of 2017 Rocky Mountaineer rail packages of seven nights or more made by March 3. The credit available with the Stay and Play deal can be used for extra hotel nights, additional meals and activities.

Among the eligible packages is the 12-day Golden Circle via Whistler itinerary, which travels round-trip from Vancouver to Whistler, Quesnel, Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff and Kamloops. 

It includes five days aboard the train, 11 nights of hotel accommodation, tours and activities, plus five breakfasts and four lunches.

It costs from $6022 in SilverLeaf Service and $8367 in GoldLeaf Service, based on twin share. The offer applies to selected travel dates.

At top: Canada Day fireworks in Vancouver. Picture: Destination Canada


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