Plans underway to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial

NANAIMO – Canada 150 Nanaimo Organizing Committee are getting ready for a 10-day celebration of the country's 150th birthday.

A Nanaimo group is making sure Canada’s 150th birthday is one big bash.

For 10 days Nanaimo will ring in Canada’s sesquicentennial, with a performance by a 150-voice choir, to fireworks and an original musical about the Harbour City. It’s a celebration budgeted to cost more than $285,000.

Canada 150 Nanaimo Organizing Committee co-chairs Wally Wells and Diana Johnstone recently shared budding party plans with Nanaimo city council, who they were hoping would acknowledge and confirm its commitment. Next year, the city has set aside $30,000 for Canada Day festivities in its draft budget, with other monies from the event expected to come from things like ticket sales, private sponsorships and grants.

The committee is building a calendar of community events, and welcoming organizations and people to add their activities to a list that already includes a citizenship ceremonies, the multicultural festival, Aboriginal Day and the Bathtub races.  To generate excitement in schools, children will be spoken to about the history of the Nanaimo and this community’s place in Canada, beginning in June.

“Every day we are adding more to the calendar,” said Johnstone, who adds the goal is to put on the best celebration this city has ever seen. “We are hoping it will draw thousands of people.”

Fifty years ago, this city marked Canada’s centennial with the launch of the first International World Championship Bathtub Race, and the presentation of the centennial fountain at Port Place Shopping Centre to the city by the volunteers who crafted it.

Johnstone said the sesquicentennial is important.

It’s not a celebration of Nanaimo’s history as much as a celebration of the history of our entire nation and taking pride in our nation.

“I go back 50 years ago and think of the different celebrations across Canada. It was a huge thing to celebrate our nation’s history and our place in our nation’s history,” she said.

Sponsors, and those who would like to add events to the list, can contact David Mailloux, outreach coordinator, at 250-753-4146, ext. 251.