Plenty of Canada Day activities

With your newspaper this week is a special “Canada 150” edition produced by the Fort Frances Times.
It is remarkable in the stories that unfold on each page. Our staff has been working on this edition for months and with the support of advertisers, the paper has gathered pictures of events and businesses that have been part of the district for more than 100 years.
On Monday of this week, the Globe and Mail published the four-page edition of the Globe dating from Monday, July 1, 1867. Written by its editor, George Brown, the front page begins: “With the first dawn of this gladsome midsummer morn, we hail the birthday of a new nationality. A united British America, with its four millions of people, takes its place this day among the nations of the world.
“Stamped with a familiar name, which the past has borne a record sufficiently honourable to entitle it be perpetuated with a more comprehensive import, the DOMINION OF CANADA, on the First Day of July, in the year of grace, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, enters on a new career of national existence.
“Old things have passed away. The history of old Canada with its contracted bounds, and limited divisions of Upper and Lower, East and West, has been completed, and this day a new volume is opened.”
Such optimism about the future of Canada is catching. I opened the Daily Bulletin and Times’ edition of 1967 and many memories came floating back (I was a student in Grade 11 in the first six months of 1967).
Throughout the community, there was a general feeling of optimism and good will. Town council, the service clubs, the retail merchants, and the Chamber of Commerce had events planned for that centennial year.
Intrepid snowmobilers arriving at the Rusty Myers’ airbase of Jan. 12 marked the first organized event of the year. Eighty-seven riders were welcomed late on that cold Saturday afternoon by Ron Anderson, chairman of the merchants’ committee, and then hosted at the Rainy Lake Hotel.
Those intrepid snowmobilers were given the colourful centennial toques.
The Bank of Canada issued a first series of Canadian $1 bills with the number 1867-1967 printed, and without any serial numbers. They were replaced with serial-numbered bill later in the year.
Although the “Festival Train” did not pass through Fort Frances, the “Confederation Caravan of Trucks” arrived on May 10. On its first day, 6,900 district people visited the eight trailers telling Canada’s story.
The July 1 weekend that began on the Thursday night with Don Messer bringing his “Jubilee Show” to the Memorial Arena (July 1 still was known as Dominion Day back then).
The big event on that weekend was the official opening of the new addition to the Fort Frances Public Library. It was the “Centennial Project” of the community.
Meanwhile, 85 high school band members left for “Expo 67” on that Dominion Day. For more than a year, the concert band had raised funds to travel. Two busloads and two truckloads left from the community with all the luggage and instruments.
They were given standing ovations at all six performances at the Expo band shell.
Regularly through late spring and into summer, canoe brigades and paddlers passed through Fort Frances following the voyageur route from Athabasca House to Montreal.
The voyageur paddlers arrived two weeks after Dominion Day. The 10 canoes raced up the river from Emo and then paraded through the town.
Almost weekly some event was offered and the community swelled with pride over the year.
We may be starting off more slowly with “Canada 150” but this weekend every community in the district will have a July 1 celebration. As well, weekly pow-wows will be hosted by all the First Nations across the district.
On July 8, the annual Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Festival gets underway.
Then the Canada Coast to Coast Classic Car Tour will be in the district from July 19-21, which also coincides with the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.