WATCH ABOVE: All around the country, friends and families came together to celebrate Canada Day. But as Vassy Kapelos reports, Ottawa’s celebration appeared to have tighter security than ever before.
TORONTO – Whether you were carrying an umbrella in Eastern Canada or sweating it out on the West Coast, the weather didn’t stop thousands from celebrating Canada’s 148th birthday on Wednesday.
In Ottawa, a sea of red and white descended on the nation’s capital for Canada Day festivities that featured live music and speeches from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. General David Johnston.
IN PHOTOS: Canadians celebrate the country’s 148th birthday
“At this moment in our history, there is no better place in the world to live, to work, and to raise a family. No better place in the world than this country Canada,” Harper said.
The prime minister also praised members of Canada’s Armed Forces, while referring to the Ottawa shooting last October that claimed the life of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.
“As we saw right here in our Parliament, this threat is everywhere today. But we have faced great threats many times before, and we have overcome them. And we shall overcome them once more. So, let’s hear it for the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.”
An estimated 34,000 came out to the event on Parliament Hill despite the rain and cold that saw hundreds don red rain ponchos.
In Montreal, hundreds gathered in the city’s downtown to watch the annual Canada Day parade. And if they weren’t out celebrate many across Quebec used the holiday to move apartments.
Torontonians celebrated the holiday with a number of events that included the first day of the Toronto Fringe Festival and the opening of the Andy Warhol Revisited: A Mirror For Today exhibit, which brings the largest collection of work by the pop art icon to Canada. The celebrations will culminate with several fireworks displays across the city.
In Winnipeg thousands dressed in red and white created the largest living flag at Shaw Park, while new Canadians celebrated the nation’s birthday at a citizenship ceremonies in Saskatoon, Edmonton and Calgary.
This year’s Canada Day was also the first to be celebrated with new rules under the country’s citizenship act. The changes were part of the Conservatives controversial omnibus legislation that came into effect in May.
Josh Paterson of the BC Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers created a Change.org petition to repeal the changes.
On the country’s west coast Environment Canada said B.C. set 73 new record temperatures over the last three days. But despite the hot weather thousands in Metro Vancouver gathered at Canada Place and Granville Island to take part in live music, kids’ activities and a parade.
Roughly 80,000 people are expected to visit Granville Island and more than 250,000 will take part in the festivities at Canada Place.
Vancouver festivities will wrap-up with a fireworks show at 10:30 p.m. PT.
*With files from the Canadian Press