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Mark Canada Day with U of T

Canadian flags flank the entrance of University College at U of T (photo by Lisa Lightbourn)

Across the country, young and old will be marking Canada Day in different ways this year – by celebrating its many successes, drawing attention to its painful shortcomings and, most importantly, reflecting on what it truly means to be Canadian.

In the week leading up to Canada's 150th birthday celebrations, protests at the nation's capital have been reminders that while there is much to celebrate, there is considerable work that still needs to be done.

In an Op-Ed in the Toronto Star, U of T's Charles Pascal, a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), and Suzanne Stewart, an associate professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, argue that there would be more to celebrate if the nation connected its 150th birthday bash with a more promising future and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

Throughout the year, U of T has been exploring these themes for Canada 150 – from artist Kent Monkman's take on Confederation with the Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience exhibit to symposiums and conferences exploring the ethics of celebrating Canada 150CanLit's relationship with Indigenous communities, the controversial Louis Riel operathe sesquicentennial's relationship to the TRC and a public event in Ottawa featuring author and U of T alumnus Margaret Atwood and poet and U of T Professor George Elliott Clarke talking about the role of religion. Many of these events, along with research projects and cultural initiatives were supported by U of T's Canada 150 Fund.

For Saturday, there's a wide range of activities planned by the U of T community to mark the day – ranging from a carillon concert to an aerial drone light show.

Here are a few of the things to check out:

For the musically inclined

Listen to the bells at the Carillion Recital at Hart House's Soldier's Tower, which features alumnus Roy Lee. You’ll have the chance to hear the world debut of the youth category winning entry for the House of Commons’ Chime In, Canada! sesquicentennial composition competition. 

Scott Allan Orr, a U of T alumnus, was the winner in the open category of the competition. His composition will premiere at the Peace Tower in Ottawa on Canada Day.

(Photo by Makeda Marc-Ali)

For the stargazers

If astronomy is more your thing, make your way to U of T Scarborough for the Guided Solar Walk and Observatory that models what the night sky would have looked like at the time of Confederation.

For the visual artists

If you find yourself in Calgary, visit the Glenbow Museum to check out Monkman’s exhibit. The Art Museum at the University of Toronto partnered with Monkman for the large-scale show, which debuted at U of T in January and is now travelling around the country. 

Read more about the exhibit here

In partnership with the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly, the U of T’s Institute for Life Course and Aging is showcasing the Wisdom Photo Project, a series of 50 photos of seniors from across Canada that explores the ideas of aging positively and combatting ageism at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

For the history buffs

Get a quick history lesson at Queen’s Park with the Canada by Treaty exhibit. Co-curated by Heidi Bohaker, an associate professor of history, Laurie Bertram, an assistant professor of history, and James Bird, an undergraduate student, the exhibit combines maps, paintings and photos to illustrate how Canada was formed through legal agreements with Indigenous peoples. 

(Photo by Diana Tyszko)

Want more history? The Struggle and Story: Canada in Print exhibit at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library presents the tumultuous journey Canada has taken in its attempt to become a more peaceful and inclusive nation through a collection of historical documents. 

An illustration of Louis Riel in the magazine, Canadian Pictorial & Illustrated War News, is among the documents in the Struggle and Story: Canada in Print exhibit (photo by Romi Levine). 

The U of T Libraries has also created U of T Showcase, 150, an interactive online timeline which highlights some of the unique holdings at the campus archives and special collections from the past century and a half.

For the poets…and for everyone else

If you find you have a few minutes to sit quietly and reflect, read Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliot Clarke’s Anthem for Liberty’s Champions. In the poem, the U of T professor of English highlights the “[u]nsung champions” who have made the sesquicentennial possible.

Canadian Geographic also invited Clarke to pen a piece of prose about the stonework at the parliament buildings in Ottawa to run alongside a series of photos by Toronto photographer Peter Andrew Lusztyk.

For the fireworks futurists

As an alternative to the Canada Day fireworks displays, watch one of Arrowonics' choreographed drone ballets light up the night sky.

Arrowonics is a company spawned from the lab of Professor Hugh Liu at the Insititute for Aerospace Studies at U of T. The company CEO is Everett Findlay, one of Liu’s former graduate students.

Catch one of Arrowonics' drone aerial night shows at Ontario Place in Toronto or at White Oaks Park in London, Ont., this weekend.

Learn more about U of T and Canada 150