Five-day birthday bash in NOTL this weekend

To celebrate Canada 150, students from St Michael Catholic, Crossroads, Royal Oak Community School and St Davids gathered at Fort George to form a living Canada Day flag. Photo by Rene Bertschi, Skyview Arts.

To celebrate Canada 150, students from St Michael Catholic, Crossroads, Royal Oak Community School and St Davids gathered at Fort George to form a living Canada Day flag. Photo by Rene Bertschi, Skyview Arts.

Penny Coles

Niagara Advance

Birthday bash celebrations begin in Virgil Friday at 2:30 p.m.and continue through to Tuesday - five full days of partying to commemorate Canada’s 150th.

Friday, June 30

The 150th birthday bash, which will be celebrated over five days, begins Friday in Virgil with a full evening of family entertainment.

The evening of partying is planned to kick off the holiday weekend for locals, says Lord Mayor Pat Darte.

Events start at 4:30 p.m. at the Centennial Sports Park in Virgil and the evening, which will end with fireworks, will be chock-full of entertainment.

Bed races will be part of it, if there are enough entries, says Lord Mayor Pat Darte.

There are a number of musical acts planned throughout the day: White Pines Dancers begin at 4:30 p.m., next up is the Confederation Celebration, a humourous musical revue about local history, followed by the Laura Secord Drum Line, Flat Broke, the Heavyweights Brass Band and wrapping up with the Woodshed Orchestra.

There will also be wandering minstrels and street performers throughout the evening, three sessions of 45-minute circus workshops for kids - also free - a chance to participate in a community art project, create a fancy hat, and enjoy bouncy castles and games. There will be face painters, caricaturists, and fireworks by Garden City Display Fireworks to end the celebration.

There are costume contests with two age categories, under and over 12.

Prizes for best costumes and for the bed races are Canada 150 coin sets.

There will be food trucks in the sports park, and the organizers have asked for an emphasis on family-friendly choices, including family-friendly prices. Beer and wine will also be sold.

Bring lawn chairs or blankets.

For more information about the event or the bed races, visit

Saturday, July 1 - Canada Day!

Simcoe Park

As traditional, Canada Day will be celebrated in Simcoe Park and at Fort George, both with festivities enhanced to mark the 150th milestone anniversary of Confederation.

The Rotary Club of Niagara-on-the-Lake is organizing Simcoe Park activities, beginning with a pancake and sausage breakfast served from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. 

That will be followed by a barbecue lunch including burgers, peameal bacon, hot dogs, buttered corn on the cob, freezies, cotton candy and popcorn. 

From 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., there will be a concert in the bandshell featuring Shea D Duo and Flat Broke.

Also free this year for families are face painting, caricatures, a balloon artist, and a magician, with antique cars and other displays.

“For the 150th anniversary, we knew we had to do more than ever to celebrate such a significant day.  This will be our best Canada Day event yet at Simcoe Park with something for everyone to enjoy.  Good music, great food at amazing prices, great atmosphere and lots for the kids,” says Paul Lalonde, chair of Rotary’s Canada Day celebration.

The Simcoe Park festivities will be capped off with the cake walk parade along Queen Street at 3 p.m., finishing in front of the bandshell where it will be cut up and handed out to the crowd.

“Rotary and Friends of Fort George are working together to provide a full amazing day of activities for families to enjoy from breakfast in the morning to the fireworks display in the evening. We have the whole day covered with a great line up to make this Canada Day special for all involved,” says Lalonde.


Saturday, July 1

Fort George

The Friends of Fort George are planning to celebrate Canada Day in style, with some new programming for the 150th anniversary.

There will be day-long entertainment, food and cannon firing at the fort, the 41st Regiment of Foot Fife & Drum Corps and spectacular fireworks.

Fort George is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with no admission charge.

Throughout the day, visitors can tour the buildings, visit with costumed interpreters, try some period treats prepared in the Officers’ Kitchen, and enjoy a musket demonstration.

There will be family entertainment throughout the day, including a bouncy castle and children’s activities; birds of prey demonstrations by the Raptor’s Conservancy, and afternoon musical entertainment from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Tom Keefer and Celtic Cross.

The Friends of Fort George will be serving sandwiches, popcorn, sweet treats, and cool drinks from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The evening entertainment starts at 6:30 p.m. with the kiddie militia and drill, followed by a presentation by the Fort George Infantry, Artillery and Fife and Drum Corps. 

An evening barbecue will be available at Fort George, prepared and served by Friends of Fort George volunteers.

On stage will be the Howling Horns - an eight-piece horn band featuring music from blues to dance to classic rock.

The evening will be wrapped up with a fireworks display by the award-winning fireworks company, Garden City Fireworks, choreographed to music with a Canada 150 theme.

For more information visit

Sunday, July 2

Butler’s Barracks

City and Colour will head an all-Canadian lineup in celebration of Canada 140 with a music festival at Butler’s Barracks.

Blue Rodeo is also performing, along with The Strumbellas, Stars and Dear Rouge with Wayne and Daryl form the Canadian sitcom Letterkenny hosting.

It’s an all-ages event, with family-friendly activities, including bocce ball, a Roots pop-up space, and a Wax on Wheels record shop throughout the day. Admission is free for children under 12 accompanying adults. There will be food trucks on the ground, beer and wine and lots of water available for purchase.

Organizers are working with the Niagara Regional Police on traffic, and are planing a second route out of the parking area to mitigate bottlenecks. One of th parking lots on-site will open at 10 a.m.

Tickets and VIP packages are still available from or call 1-855-985-5000.

Gates open at 2 p.m.

Sunday, July 2

Queen’s Royal Park

Bravo Niagara! is joining in the birthday celebrations with a Canada 150 Birthday Bash Concert featuring Canada’s premiere percussion ensemble, TorQ Percussion Quartet.

On Sunday, July 2 at 2 p.m., Bravo will present a free, interactive and family-friendly concert overlooking Lake Ontario at Queen’s Royal Park Gazebo in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Enjoy a performance by TorQ Percussion Quartet, followed by an interactive program called “Everything AND the Kitchen Sink,” an exploration of how music can be made anytime, anyplace, with anything. TorQ will take seemingly ordinary, everyday objects (kitchen utensils, wooden planks, old car parts, even keys in their pockets) and transform them into an orchestra of musical instruments, says Alexis Spieldenner, Bravo’s executive director.

With a focus on improvisation and audience participation, TorQ will encourage the audience to explore a world of sounds without limits.

Renowned for their engaging performances, members Richard Burrows, Adam Campbell, Jamie Drake, and Daniel Morphy are committed to making percussion music accessible to audiences that span generations, says Spieldenner.

This concert is one of 367 initiatives across the province supported by the Ontario 150 Community Celebrations Program.

For more information, call 289-868-9177 or visit

The gazebo at Queen’s Royal Park is located at King and Front Street.

Rain location: The Market @ The Village Tent – 111 Garrison Village Dr.

Monday, July 3

Simcoe Park


In honour of Canada 150, Niagara-on-the-Lake will offer a celebration that continues Monday with a party back in Simcoe Park courtesy of the town’s Canada 150 celebration.

The Confederation Celebration will be performed in the park bandshell at 1 p.m. to open the event.

For those who haven’t seen it yet - it’s scheduled in more than 20 events across the town until September - it’s a humorous music revue commemorating 150 years in Niagara.

At each performance, there is music offered before and after the show, and Sunday will feature the Turbo Street Funk band and the Niagara Groove Trio.

The emcee will be Holmes Hooke, with readings by the NOTL Writers’ Circle.

It’s a family-friendly event, with bouncy castles and face paintings in the park as well.

Bill French of the Rotary Club of Niagara-on-the-Lake says it’s another opportunity to celebrate Confederation and Canada Day.

The Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre will also offer family activities in Simcoe Park. In partnership with the NOTL Canada 150 committee, the arts centre has co-ordinated a community collaborative mosaic to give residents an opportunity to leave their creative mark on an Canada 150 art project.

When competed, the mosaic will be made of more than 350 individually-paints canvas boards that highlight NOTL scenes and historic sites, the waterfront, greenery and gardens.

There will be examples for people of all ages and talents, says Pumphouse director Rima Boles, including options for those with no art experience such as the greenery and more detailed representations of buildings and historic sites for those with more confidence using a paint brush.

The Pumphouse is also offering a clay sculpture workshop for all ages and abilities, to create their own favorite Canadian animal, with demonstrations of sculpture techniques and sample sculptures to help.

The Simcoe Park event runs from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday, July 3.

Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4

As part of the Canada 150 celebrations, two tall ships will be docked in Niagara-on-the-Lake July 3 and 4.

The ships will be tied up to barges brought in for the event, funded by the Ontario 150 fund, says organizer Tony Chisholm.

“There is no public dock in NOTL to tie up the ships, so a dock made up of eight barges will be towed across the lake from Toronto just for this event. The dock is a rental and will only be in town for the duration of the event,” said Chisholm.

“We’ve gone to a lot of trouble and expense to get a suitable dock for two days.”

The port fees for the visit by the two tall ships to Niagara-on-the-Lake are paid for through Rendez-Vous2017, an event that will see more than 40 tall ships sailing in Canadian lakes to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

The two tall ships, the Denis Sullivan and the Mist of Avalon, will be at the foot of Melville Street on River Beach Drive, with free boarding and tours and an opportunity to talk to the two captains and 45 crew members both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

It’s a rare opportunity, says Chisholm - tall ships sailed into NOTL in 2012 but couldn’t dock, so there was no opportunity to board them. And with $400,000 funding from the province to pay for Canada 150 events, there is no admission.

This is done in other ports across Ontario, says Chisholm, “but never for free.”

There will be live music as well in the afternoon, and food for sale.

On July 3, Ian Bell will play maritime music with Pressgang Mutiny. An authority on music and shipping on the Great Lakes, Bell plays sea shanties that make maritime history come alive.

July 4 will feature the Confederation Celebration, with music before and after the show provided by Aaron Berger and Nathanial Goold.

The Denis Sullivan is a 130-foot replica, three-masted wooden schooner from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The ship is a reproduction of a Great Lakes cargo ship, similar to what would have been built by the Niagara Harbour and Dock Company, says Chisholm.

“This company drove Niagara’s economy. Houses, businesses, railways and hotels all opened up as a result of the company.”

The Denis Sullivan is a modern educational sailing vessel with a scientific laboratory, two computer workstations and modern communication and navigation equipment. It was constructed with more than one million volunteer hours to create a ship that would be identical to those working schooners built in the 1830s and 1840s.

“What we will see in July will be representing a big part of the history of Niagara-on-the-Lake 180 years ago,” says Chisholm. “There is a lot of deep history here with sailing ships and steamships.”

The Mist of Avalon began her life in 1967 fishing for cod off the banks of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In 1987, after 20 years working in the North Atlantic, with fish stocks declining and her machinery and equipment well past their prime, this once-proud vessel was abandoned at a Halifax pier. In December 1992, she was purchased and rechristened Mist of Avalon, named for the mystic Celtic island of re-birth.

To help with the tall ship event, the Shaw Festival has donated the former Anchorage site for free parking in the area.

Two free shuttle buses will be moving people into and out of the area. They will pick up passengers at the NOTL Public Library, Fort George parking lot and the Anchorage site and drop off at the shipdock.

Backpacks and strollers will not be permitted on the ships, and please wear soft-soled shoes, says Chisholm. The ships will not be wheelchair accessible.

More than 30 local people have volunteered to help organize the event and the site. “Other cities hosting these ships are using paid employees to do the preparation and hosting,” said Chisholm.

“NOTL is unique in that the whole event is being handled almost exclusively by volunteers.”

For details on this and all Canada 150 events in Niagara-on-the-Lake, please visit


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