The best Canada Day 2019 events in Toronto

From a Broken Social Scene concert to an Indigenous art installation, here are your best bets for July 1. Plus: where to watch the fireworks across the city


The provincial government cancelled Canada Day events at Queen’s Park this year, presumably because Doug Ford didn’t want a repeat of the Raptors rally at Nathan Phillips Square where he was booed the moment he stepped on stage. Instead, the province will be giving away free tickets to attractions across Ontario, like the ROM and Ontario Science Centre, to the first 500 people at Queen’s Park. For non-Doug Ford related activities though, we have you covered.

From a performance by Toronto’s own indie rock royalty to an Indigenous Interpretive Learning Centre, here are our top picks for what to do on Canada Day. Plus: where to watch fireworks across the city.

Wigwam Chi-Chemung at Trillium Park in Ontario Place

Get an Indigenous perspective this Canada Day by visiting Wigwam Chi-Chemung, an art installation and Indigenous Interpretive Learning Centre created in partnership with Myseum and Anishinaabe artist and intellectual, Elder Dr. Duke Redbird. Wigwam Chi-Chemung, which means Big House Canoe, is based around a houseboat covered in woodland artwork painted by Redbird and muralist Philip Cote. For his talk Canada Day: An Indigenous Perspective, Redbird will tell the origin story of the Seven Grandfather Teachings from the Seven Canopies of the Food Forest and explain the Indigenous history of the waterfront. If you can’t make it on Canada Day, Wigwam Chi-Chemung will be holding public hours throughout the summer where people can ask questions and learn from Indigenous elders.

955 Lake Shore West. 1 pm to 2:30 pm. Free. The exhibition continues to October. wigwamchichemung.com

Broken Social Scene at Harbourfront Centre

The indie rock collective released two EPs this year, Let’s Try After Vol 1 and Vol. 2, and played a homecoming show at the Danforth Music Hall, where Broken Social Scene alum Feist made a surprise appearance. Although we can’t confirm Feist will play with them again on July 1, that’s the great thing about a BSS show: you never know who might make a cameo, and that’s reason enough to see them on Canada Day.

Concert stage at 235 Queens Quay West. 9:30-10:45 pm. harbourfrontcentre.com

Waterfront Festival

At this annual festival, tour a dozen tall ships docked along the waterfront from Harbour Square Park to Sherbourne Common, watch an oyster shucking competition and feast at a Maritimes-themed food market.

Harbour Square Park (25 Queens Quay West) to Sherbourne Common (61 Dockside), 10 am-6 pm, towaterfrontfest.com

See the North screenings at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Get a dose of CanCon with free screenings of seminal Canadian-made films at TIFF. As part of the See the North series – formerly known as Canadian Open Vault – TIFF will be showing Sarah Polley’s Away From Her, Michel Brault’s 1967 fiction-feature debut, Entre la mer et l’eau douce, and Rhymes for Young Ghouls, starring former NOW cover star Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs.

TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King West). See website for show times.

Jully Black, Maylee Todd and DJ Dre Ngozi at Mel Lastman Square

Dance it out to the sounds of DJ Dre Ngozi, the resident DJ of Manifesto’s monthly High Power party, the genre-blurring experimental pop of Maylee Todd and Juno award-winning R&B icon, Jully Black. This family-friendly event will also feature face painting, dance workshops, hula hoop performances and fireworks at 10:30 pm.

Mel Lastman Square (5100 Yonge), 6-10:30 pm. toronto.ca

A Beautiful Planet and North Of Superior at Cinesphere

The Cinesphere is playing a double bill of two acclaimed films that show the diversity of our world at two different scales. Created in cooperation with NASA, Beautiful Planet (IMAX digital) is made up of footage of Earth captured by astronauts aboard the International Space Station, while North of Superior (IMAX 70mm) is captivating portrait of Ontario’s rugged landscape. A limited number of tickets are available for free and the remaining are $9.

Cinesphere (955 Lake Shore West), 12 pm, 2 pm, 4 pm, 6 pm. ontarioplace.com

Where to watch fireworks

If you’re in the north of the city, you can watch fireworks at Mel Lastman Square (5100 Yonge) at 10:30 pm, Amesbury Park (1507 Lawrence West) at 9:45 pm or make the trek to Canada’s Wonderland, where their display starts at 10 pm. Downsview Park (70 Canuck), will have kid-friendly activities starting at 4 pm and fireworks to cap off the night when the sun goes down. 

West-enders can catch the fireworks as part of the Toronto Ribfest at Etobicoke Centennial Park (256 Centennial Park) at sundown. 

In the east, you can watch the always spectacular display at Ashbridges Bay Park (Lake Shore East and Coxwell) at 10 pm or at Scarborough’s Miliken Park (555 Steeles East) at 10 pm.

@SamEdwardsTO

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