When the world gathered in Montreal for Expo ’67, it left a lasting legacy and sense of national pride that is still felt today. With Canada’s sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary just around the corner, Ottawa is hoping to replicate the phenomenon.
The nation’s capital has long suffered from a reputation as a boring government town — “The city fun forgot,” says Guy Laflamme, executive director of Ottawa 2017. But that’s set to change next year as Ottawa welcomes the world for 12 straight months of big, bold events.
“We want to revolt against reserve,” says Laflamme. “We don’t think people will see Ottawa that same way after 2017.”
Adds Ottawa mayor Jim Watson, “We do Canada Day very well, but we really want to take that enthusiasm and that pride and spread it across the calendar.”
The annual July 1 festivities normally bring an influx of people to the city, but Watson estimates an additional 1.75 million people will visit Ottawa throughout 2017, potentially adding more than $230 million to the city’s economy.
August 4 marks 150 days until the beginning of 2017. As the countdown begins, here’s a look at some of the events Ottawa has in store.
Welcoming the world
Diversity is part of what makes Canada … Canada. To celebrate this important aspect of Canadian heritage and identity, Ottawa 2017 has invited embassies and high commissions to showcase their nations’ cultures as part of a free exhibition at the Aberdeen Pavilion and the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne Park. Each day will feature film screenings, food tastings, music and dance performances, and more.
Here be monsters
La Machine, a French street theatre production company, will bring their gigantic mobile mechanical sculptures to North America for the first time in July 2017. A dragon and a giant spider (purportedly the offspring of Maman, the spider sculpture that guards the entrance to the National Gallery of Canada) will take to the streets of downtown Ottawa — and who knows what will happen next?