Yesterday, Canada Day celebrations took place throughout the country. I thought it would be interesting to focus on historical sites related to Canada's transition to self-government. Event venues at and near these sites are available for group tours or corporate events.
(By the way, it's not too early to begin planning incentive travel and corporate events for Canada Day 2017 to coincide with the 150-year anniversary of Confederation, when Canada was born.)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.)
Charlottetown, the birthplace of Canada, is always the location of some of the first Canada Day celebrations. Yesterday, these included a 21-gun salute and fireworks that took place at Victoria Park. Year 2014 will be an ideal time to visit Charlottetown, as the PEI 2014 Canada Day Pavilion will commemorate the sesquicentennial of the historic 1864 Charlottetown Conference.
- Province House National Historic Site of Canada
Historical Significance: Since 1847, Province House has been the seat of the P.E.I. provincial legislature. It is the birthplace of Confederation. From October 10-27, 1864, the Fathers of Confederation assembled for the Charlottetown Conference to discuss the union of British North America to form an independent nation.
Canada Day Events: Yesterday, festivities started with the singing of "O Canada" and the cutting of the birthday cake. During the next hour, guests participated in games and races. They were treated to historical vignettes.
Group Tours: At Province House, groups can learn about Canada's history through a guided tour, interpretive displays and A Great Dream, an audio-visual presentation portraying what took place at the Charlottetown Conference. 60% of Province House has been restored to reflect the 1867 era. The venue is fully wheelchair accessible.
Confederation Centre of the Arts
Historical Significance: Confederation Centre of the Arts, Canada's National to the Father's of Confederation, was opened in 1964 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to mark the centennial of the Charlottetown Conference.
Event Facilities: Event venues include Memorial Hall that overlooks Province House. The hall's elegant decor and a capacity of 400 for receptions, 250 for dining, and 275 with a theater-style set-up.
Historical Significance: From October 10-27, 1864, at the Quebec Conference, a key milestone on the road to Canada's independence, 72 resolutions that became the basis for Canada's constitution were drafted in an elegant building where Fairmont Chateau Frontenac now stands. Fairmont Chateau Frontenac has extensive event and meeting facilities.
Canada Day is not an official United Kingdom holiday but, every year, at Trafalgar Square, it is the site of the largest Canada Day celebration outside Canada. Here's why:
- Westminster Palace Hotel (Demolished)
Historical Significance: On December 4, 1866, the London Conference redrafted the 72 resolutions that formed the basis of the British North America Act at Westminister Palace Hotel that stood at 4 Victoria Street near Westminster Abbey. Canada became an independent nation when The BNA Act came into effect on July 1, 1867. The hotel has been demolished and a petrochemical company is now located at the site.
Hotels and Meeting Venues: Nearby hotels include The Goring and the Grosvener. Meeting venues include BIS Conference Centre and 83 Victoria Street has five small meeting rooms and affordable daily delegate packages.
- Parliament Hill
Historical Significance: Before Confederation, Her Majesty Queen Victoria selected Ottawa as the capital for the colonies in British North America. The Parliament buildings were constructed from 1859 - 1866. After the BNA Act came into the effect, they became the seat of the new Canadian Federal Government. Most of the original complex was destroyed by fire on February 3, 1916. The new buildings were completed in 1922 and the now iconic Peace Tower was added in 1927.
On April 17, 1982, the Canadian constitution was patriated when the British North America Act, 1867 was renamed the Constitution Act and signed into law by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Parliament Hill. Several amendments were made including the addition of the Charter of Rights and Freedom.
Canada Day Events: Yesterday, Canada Day was celebrated with a gun salute, a flag raising ceremony, the Changing of the Guard, fly pasts by Canada’s Snowbirds and CF-18s, War of 1812 tributes, concerts and fireworks.
Group Tours and Event Facilities: Only Federal departments and Crown Corporations can reserve Parliament Hill conference facilities but group tours are available. Outdoor tours for a minimum of 10 guests take place in the summer. Groups can also see the Changing of the Guard and the spectacular Sound and Light show projecting giant images using the Parliament Buildings as a backdrop.
Event Venues: Fairmont Chateau Laurier, located near Parliament Hill, offers spectacular views from some guest rooms and meeting venues. Other event venues with excellent views of Parliament Hill include Ottawa Convention Centre, National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization (with Canada Day exhibits), directly across the river in Gatineau, Quebec.