Canada Day celebrations carry on

District residents will celebrate Canada Day tomorrow with activities planned across the area. Fireworks will be set off, parades will be marched, ball games played and much more. These outdoor activities bring communities together whether small or large.
Around the world, Canadians celebrate this day. Coming at exactly the mid-point of the calendar year, this day has not always been celebrated. Even though Canada came into being as a country in 1867 and the various colonies of the area joined together to form the Dominion of Canada, the day was not officially recognized until 1879 by official statute. Then it was called “Dominion Day.”
It took 50 years of anniversaries before the first big celebration of Dominion happened. That was in 1917 and again 10 years later on the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation in 1927.
Following World War II, the nation began celebrating Dominion Day on a regular basis. This began the festival of parades, outdoor gatherings and fireworks imitating Independence Day of the U.S.
In 1982, Parliament renamed Dominion Day to Canada Day encouraging the participation of all ethnic groups in Canada’s celebration.
As a child, I can remember walking to my cousin’s home on First Street and then our families would walk up to Scott Street to watch the parade. It seemed to me that every July 1 came with rain. Maybe it is my memory. Later, if the rain stopped, we would make out way to the Point.
In Fort Frances, Pither’s Point Park has always been the focal point of the celebration. As a child, I remember going to the beach and hoping that my parents would take me for a ride in one of Rusty Meyers’ Norseman for a quick jaunt over Rainy Lake.
The Fort Frances Fastball Association always held their July 1 baseball tournament in the stadium that is now known as Vanjura Ball Park.
Booths ringed the field selling food, and offered games of chance to win items. There was a constant bingo in play. Cars jammed all the roads at Pither’s Point Park.
And in the evening, fireworks exploded over the water. As children, we didn’t make it to the fireworks, but would watch the exploding light show from the backyard, while fireflies would dance above our heads over the lawn.
In the mid-1970s, Fort Frances Jaycees reinvigorated the July 1 celebration at the Point. Canoe jousting, children’s races, the bathtub derby and buffalo burger feed took over.
Other groups found their way back to the park and it remained the centre of activities. As soon as the parade ended, the park and beach filled with celebrants. Lifeguards monitored the beach and dock.
This Canada Day will again focus activities at Pither’s Point Park and will culminate in the evening with a showy display of fireworks.
The old-time festival, which began following the war, is continuing under a new group of spirited volunteers who continue to instill a sense of pride in being Canadian. Similar groups have organized activities in Emo, Chapple and Rainy River to celebrate Canada Day.

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