150 and counting
Not even an evening storm could dampen the Canada 150 celebrations – they were just moved indoors.
Saturday started with a pancake breakfast and ended with fireworks, but in between thousands of people came out to celebrate the country’s sesquicentennial at the Camrose Centennial Museum.
“Canada Day is a celebration of a very young country but of a country with a lot of history to offer,” said mayor Norm Mayer. “It has melded a lot of different nationalities through the immigration process and has made a stronger Canada … I just hope the next 150 years can be a little more kinder and gentle and expand to include everybody I the family of Canada. We are one big country that we should make the best of.”
For Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA Bruce Hinkley, the day was an opportunity to talk about how far Canada has come in the last 50 years, since we celebrated the centennial, and the advancements we continue to make and the pride people have in the country. He also took the chance to reflect on the flag and its importance to our individual national identity, when it was adopted in 1965 after being brought in by Lester B. Pearson.
“As a youth not understanding what the old ensign and the connection to England really meant, and I’m proud of that English background, but as a youth graduating and seeing the new flag from its inception I finally felt ‘Hey, that’s Canadian,’” he said. “You look at all of the flags in the world … and it’s really easy to identify, the red and white is really distinct. For many years … people have put that flag on their back pack, they wear the pins, it’s something that all Canadians are really attached to now.”
The celebrations started on Jan. 1 and they will not end until Dec. 31, but Canada Day was circled on the calendar as the day for the country and the city to let loose in Canadiana.
The Swan and Roses Lions Club served breakfast right up until the opening ceremonies which were kicked off by a march-in by the Camrose Cougars Air Cadets and the Camrose SALH Army Cadets with Val Sims hosting. Mayer, Hinkley, a representative of Battle River-Crowfoot MP Kevin Sorenson, and Camrose County Councillor Trevor Miller all spoke during the ceremonies while Bruce Cutknife of the Samson Cree Nation gave a Cree prayer prior to the start of the ceremony. It was the first time a member of the Samson Cree Nation had prayed in Cree prior to the start of the Canada Day ceremonies in Camrose.
To celebrate the day there were many family-oriented activities and live entertainment on the museum grounds like Vikings weapons demonstrations by Odin’s Ravens. The Bethany Group also opened up its historic Rosehaven facility for public tours, from tunnels to turrets.
For those downtown, nearly 200 cars lined a packed main street for the Camrose Cruisers’ annual show and shine.
The evening entertainment had to be moved in after a storm blew in, but that didn’t stop headlining act Johnny McCuaig Band from entertaining the masses.
A 10 -minute firework show by Aerial Fireworks capped the day’s celebration.
“Every Canada Day I always take a second to step back and I always see all the families and the smiling faces and it always puts a big smile on my face,” said Camrose arts director Jane Cherry-Lemire. “It’s like Christmas, you get ready for it and then it’s over just like that.”
The celebration took many volunteers, the support of the business community and a $7,750 Canadian Heritage Grant to pull off successfully. The seven-person Canada Day committee has spent most of the past year working on this year’s celebration and they are already looking to next year, which will continue to evolve.
“People want to have different things happen and more and more,” said Cherry-Lemire. “I try to every year to add something different. Every year I hear from people it was bigger and better this year. So even though we did a few extra things for Canada 150 this year, I’m hoping that the community will support the way they have so we can keep building momentum for this event to continue to keep getting bigger and better.”