Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Mystique of the Canadian Centennial

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The Mystique of the Canadian Centennial

By Konomi Fujimiya
The Daily Magi
September 1, 2061


The Canadian Centennial was a yearlong celebration held in 1967 when Canada celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. Celebrations occurred throughout the year but culminated on Dominion Day, July 1. 1967 coins were different from previous (or forthcoming) years' issues, with animals on each - the cent, for instance, had a dove on its reverse. Communities and organizations across Canada were encouraged to engage in Centennial projects to celebrate the anniversary. The projects ranged from special one-time events to local improvement projects, such as the construction of municipal arenas and parks. The Centennial Flame was also added to Parliament Hill. A Centennial Train traversed the country and school children across the country were able to see exhibits raising their consciousness as to Canadian history and nationalism and enlivening their enthusiasm to visit Expo. Children born in 1967 were declared Centennial babies.

Under the Centennial Commission, convened in January 1963, various projects were commissioned to commemorate the Centennial year. Gordon Lightfoot's "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" was commissioned by the CBC for broadcast on January 1, 1967. The Canadian Government commissioned typographer Carl Dair to create a new and distinctively Canadian typeface. The first proof of Cartier was published as "the first Canadian type for text composition" to mark the centenary of Canadian Confederation.

Challenge for Change (in Quebec Societé Nouvelle) was a participatory film and video project created by the National Film Board of Canada in 1967 as a response to the Centennial. Active until 1980, Challenge for Change used film and video production to illuminate the social concerns of various communities within Canada, with funding from eight different departments of the Canadian government. The impetus for the program was the belief that film and video were useful tools for initiating social change and eliminating poverty.

In Toronto, the Caribana parade and festival was launched in 1967 as a celebration of Caribbean culture, and as a gift from Canada's West Indian community in tribute to the Centennial year. In November 1967, the Confederation of Tomorrow conference was held at the newly built Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower. Called by Ontario Premier John Robarts, the summit of provincial premiers led to a new round of federal-provincial negotiations to amend the Canadian Constitution.

The Centennial Voyageur Canoe Pageant was a canoe race started on May 24th in the Rocky Mountains by ten teams representing eight provinces and the two territories. Two provinces were not entered. 3,283 miles were paddled and portaged in 104 days by 100 men using six man shifts per team. They arrived in Montreal on September 4th. Other privately sponsored canoes from across the country made similar trips.

he 1967 International and Universal Exposition, or Expo 67 as it was commonly known, was the general exhibition, Category One World's Fair held in Montreal from April 27 to October 29, 1967. Expo 67 was Canada's main celebration during the centennial year.

In a political and cultural context, Expo 67 was seen as a landmark moment in Canadian history. Expo 67 in particular was a signifier of the nation's mood of extreme optimism and confidence on heading into its second century. In retrospect, the centennial is seen as a high point of Canadian aspirations prior to the anxious decade of the 1970s that saw the nation divided over issues relating to inflation, an economic recession, government budget deficits and Quebec separatism. Popular Canadian historian Pierre Berton referred to the centennial as "the last good year" in his book 1967: The Last Good Year.

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