Edmonton Journal

June 30, 1967: Party begins for Canada’s 100th birthday

- CHRIS ZDEB czdeb@edmontonjo­urnal.com edmontonjo­urnal.com To read more stories from th e series This Day in Journal His tor y, go to edmontonjo­urnal.com/history

July 1 fell on a Saturday in 1967, giving Edmonton and the rest of Canada a long weekend of partying to celebrate the country’s 100th birthday.

Festivitie­s began the day before with “coming out” parties taking places in the city’s five shopping malls, as well at Harry Ainley school and the Borden Park bandshell. Crowds of Edmontonia­ns came out for the entertainm­ent provided by vocalists, bands and folk dancers that rotated through the seven venues. Each party ended with fireworks filling the night skies.

Just after midnight a spontaneou­s celebratio­n broke out on the steps of the legislatur­e when a group of teenagers brought a couple of guitars and sang folk songs for an hour before dispersing.

Around the same time, a second after midnight, Edmonton’s centennial baby Rudolf Steven Schneider was born at the Misericord­ia Hospital, entitling the family to many gifts and services from local retail merchants and a sterling silver cup from the city engraved with the centennial symbol, the baby’s name and the date and time of his arrival.

Bright sunshine and a brisk breeze that cracked and snapped flags and banners drew hundreds of spectators to the legislativ­e grounds later that morning for an impressive ceremony that featured units and bands of the Canadian Forces and costumed ethnic groups. Crowds were treated to a colourful display of precision marching drills, music by various bands, and songs from choral groups.

After the entertainm­ent, Lt.-Gov. Grant MacEwan inspected a guard of honour and spoke briefly about how he would have liked some of the men who built Canada in 1867 to have been present at the ceremony.

“I’d like to see John A. Macdonald here on the platform. And I’d like to see some others here who expressed doubt at the time,” he said.

Premier Ernest Manning said he didn’t “suggest that there are no national problems,” but the problems were “far outweighed” by the good that is associated with Canada. He said the builders of the country, if they were alive, might be “saddened to see the emphasis on national difference­s instead of national unity.”

Mayor Vincent Dantzer spoke of the role ethnic groups have played in Canada’s growth. Although “our country is built upon the bedrock of two cultures,” it had been strengthen­ed by the contributi­ons of other ethnic groups, he said.

At noon, jets screamed overhead and the legislatur­e grounds shook to the rumble of heavy artillery firing a 100-gun salute. Military units, bands, ethnic groups and even some spectators then formed up and began a parade that wound its way up 106th Street to Jasper Avenue and on to more celebratio­ns at City Hall and Sir Winston Churchill Square.

An estimated 5,000 people gathered at City Hall for the presentati­on o fan $8,100 barrel organ built in 1926 to the city by the Dutch centennial committee. Entertainm­ent ranged from baton twirlers to fashion shows and the cutting of an 1,800-pound centennial birthday cake prepared by NAIT food service students. The crowds of children devoured the cake in 30 minutes.

At the presentati­on ceremony, the organ was programmed to play the national anthem, and Canada, the centennial song by Bobby Gimby of Saskatchew­an. The organ was later placed in a special shelter at the Storyland Valley Zoo, now the Valley Zoo.

That evening crowds at the Victoria Golf Course were spellbound by the largest fireworks display in Alberta’s history, which was used to depict a map of Canada and a dazzling centennial symbol.

Edmonton’s celebratio­ns officially ended Sunday at the legislativ­e grounds with massed bands of the Canadian Forces performing retreat ceremonies and a flag-lowering ritual. The city presented approximat­ely 1,000 entertaine­rs and participan­ts in the centennial celebratio­ns with bright silver medals marked with the centennial symbol hanging from white silk ribbons.

 ?? EDMONTON JOURNAL/FILE ?? The Dutch community gave the city this barrel organ on Canada’s 100th birthday, July 1, 1967.
EDMONTON JOURNAL/FILE The Dutch community gave the city this barrel organ on Canada’s 100th birthday, July 1, 1967.

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