Canada Day is a special day in London and looking forward to 2016, London will be celebrating the 150th year of the Canadian Flag with the rest of the country. Exciting plans are in the works, but let’s look at what London is already programming this year on July 1st.
Harris Park winds along the bank of the Thames River downtown, and is the hub of London’s Canada Day celebration each year. Festivities begin at 12noon with a First Nations gathering, followed with an opening ceremony. Live music then follows to fill the afternoon, as the park is packed with people, vendors, and Canadian inspired exhibits.
By the end of the night, Harris Park is full of thousands of people to watch fireworks shot from the river. The show is incredible and gets bigger and better each year. Once the fireworks die down, everyone in the park stand and sings “O Canada” together to end the night.
Up the hill from Harris Park is Eldon House, London’s oldest residence. Built in 1834 for John and Amelia Harris whom Harris Park is named after, this historic home remained in the family until 1960 when it was donated to the City of London. The home remains virtually unchanged from the 19th century, and is a historic landmark in London.
On Canada Day, Eldon House offers free tours of the home and its grounds. There is also live entertainment, activities for children and families, and tea served in the garden. At the end of the night, Londoners throw out their blankets on the lawn and have a great view of the fireworks.
Opposite Harris Park across the Thames River is Labatt Memorial Park, the oldest continual use baseball diamond in the world dating back to 1877. The park is named after the Labatt family of the local Labatt Brewing Company. The Labatt’s donated the park to the City of London in 1936 with the condition that the baseball diamond would remain a public park for ever.
As per tradition, the London Majors baseball team plays July 1st at Labatt Memorial Park. Fans and players from both the home and visiting team then stay after the game to watch the fireworks from the diamond. It is an amazing feeling to watch the fireworks from the top of the bleachers or from the grass in centre field and if you listen carefully at the end of the night, you can hear the crowd across the river in Harris Park singing “O Canada.”
Visit www.downtownlondon.ca leading up to Canada Day for updates on events and programming.
Even better, follow Downtown London on Twitter at @Downtown_London or Facebook at www.facebook.com/DowntownLondon