By Loraine Debnam
At the beginning of January, when I was noting important dates on my new calendar, it was evident 2017 is going to be a year of milestones.
Two friends will mark their 60th birthday, two more their 70th, my aunt will be 80 this year and a close, special (almost family) lady will be 85. My friends in Pennsylvania will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary and two young couples I know are expecting babies, more great-grandchildren for my friend. Every month there will be a reason to have a party. But, the biggest celebration will be held on July 1. Our country will be 150 years old.
If I’m truthful, I must admit I can remember many of the events from our 100th birthday in 1967. I watched on television as dignitaries participated in the inaugural lighting of the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill and the opening of the National Arts Centre.
Some of my friends travelled to Montreal with their families, bands or local 4-H clubs for Expo ’67 and they all say their trip to the World’s Fair was an unforgettable experience. The federal, provincial and local governments encouraged communities and organizations to host one-time events such as festivals, reunions, jamborees and home-comings or to plan local improvement projects to mark the occasion.
History and culture were to be promoted and Gordon Lightfoot was commissioned to compose his now famous Canadian Railroad Trilogy. Closer to my home at the time, High River opened its Centennial Library and, as a confirmed book lover even at that young age, I was delighted.
And, now we have reached our sesquicentennial (a new word for my vocabulary). The Centennial Flame was lit on New Year’s Eve to mark the beginning of this hopefully amazing and notable year.
Parks Canada has announced it will waive admission fees to all of our national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas if you present their Discovery Pass. It’s available on their website for no cost.
Canada will host the World Indigenous Nations Games for the first time in North America. It features traditional sports such as lake swimming, hockey with a flaming ball and tug-of-war. Contestants are expected to attend from many nations of the world including New Zealand, Finland, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Chile and Brazil.
Locally, the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens will commemorate its 50th year by inviting significant Japanese and Canadian VIPs to celebrate with them and the University of Lethbridge begins its 50th year in 2017. Both of these venues, which began in our centennial year, have had a lasting impact on southern Alberta (and the world).
Respected travel guide Lonely Planet has named our country as the number one destination for people to visit in 2017. What a great opportunity to plan an adventure with your family or friends to a location somewhere in our beautiful land (locally, provincially or even nationally).
We’re hoping to do that, so my grandson always remembers where he was and what he was doing when we celebrated on July 1.
Happy 150th Birthday Canada.