Canada 150’s most unique events, from giant robots to ultra-marathons

You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that Canada is celebrating 150 years since Confederation in 2017. Government advertising campaigns have been rolling out for months across the country, and many Canadians are planning to join in the official celebrations on July 1.

The usual fireworks, concerts and parades will be on offer, but some people may be looking for something a little out of the ordinary to mark the anniversary. Fear not, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s a run down of some of the most unique, eye-popping, adrenaline-filled and just plain wacky events planned across Canada this summer:

Greeting the dawn (St. John’s, July 1): Early risers in St. John’s can be among the first Canadians to greet the dawn on Canada Day with a sunrise ceremony at the top of the city’s famed Signal Hill.

It’s one of the easternmost points in Canada, and this yearly event draws a crowd even in years when we aren’t marking a major milestone. The fun gets going at 6 a.m., so you may want to bring a large coffee.

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A hiker is silhouetted as they climb the stairs on the Signal Hill hiking trail in St. John’s, in 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Canoe 150 (Toronto, July 1): Canoe Toronto is organizing a special paddling excursion on the afternoon of July 1 on the Toronto Islands. The organization is looking for people to help paddle a fleet of 10 Voyageur Canoes through the island lagoons. Get more information here.

La Machine (Ottawa, July 27-30): In the mood for some giant, fire-breathing mechanical dragons? You’re in luck. French company La Machine is bringing its special blend of intricate engineering and eye-popping theatre to downtown Ottawa from July 27 to 30.

“Wandering around in public spaces, the protagonists will invade the heart of the capital in a show entitled ‘The Spirit of the Dragon-Horse, with Stolen Wings,'” said a release linked to the special event.

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The machines will be roaming the downtown 24 hours a day for four full days. They’ll be pretty hard to miss.

Picnic on the bridge (Ottawa, July 2): This event sold out quickly, but if you didn’t manage to snatch up a patch of grass, you can at least watch from Parliament Hill as thousands of people lay down a blanket on the Alexandra Bridge – spanning the Ottawa River from Gatineau to the nation’s capital – and enjoy a meal.

Similar events have taken place on bridges around the world.

Ottawa is also hosting another unique culinary experience this July, Sky Lounge, where diners are suspended 150 feet in the air.

Totem carving (Duncan B.C., summer) The city of Duncan was awarded just over $94,000 through Ottawa’s Canada 150 community projects fund to carve and raise a 20-foot totem pole under the guidance of local carver Thomas Hunt Jr.

READ MORE: UBC honours victims of residential schools with reconciliation totem pole

Starting in May, residents of Duncan and the surrounding areas have a chance to watch and participate in the carving, most of which is taking place in Charles Hoey Park. But the totem will also travel a handful of times to different communities for Cowichan Lake Days (June 4-11), Chemainus Giant Market (July 8), and Ladysmith Days (Aug. 5).

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Canada 150 Ultra (Manitoba, July 1-3): For people who feel like testing their physical limits on Canada Day weekend, there’s the Canada 150 Ultra-marathon.

The epic trek will start alongside the Winnipeg River at Great Falls, then take runners past old hydroelectric dams and deep into the woods before spitting them out at the finish line along Falcon Lake.

The full journey is 150 miles, or 241 kilometres. Participants will have 60 hours, starting on Canada Day, to get it done. There is also a relay option, with each runner on a team of three taking on 50 miles of the course.

WATCH: As we celebrate Canada 150, here are the Top 5 Canadian superheroes

Click to play video: 'Canada 150: The Top 5 Canadian superheroes'
Canada 150: The Top 5 Canadian superheroes

Snakes and Ladders (Calgary, Sept. 13-17): Details on this project are scarce, but Calgary’s annual arts fest, Beakerhead, is promising to “a larger-than-life interactive experience where visitors will navigate to and from Beakerhead encounters à la Snakes and Ladders.”

So basically, it’s a giant board game involving multiple stops that will also help educate participants on the “human ingenuity” that built Canada’s west. You’ll have to check it out for yourself!

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Canada C3 (across Canada, summer and fall): A group of 60 Canadians from various backgrounds and walks of life have already set off on a 220-foot icebreaker through the Northwest Passage. The journey, sponsored in part by the federal government, will take the ship 150 days to complete.

READ MORE: Icebreaker cruising Northwest Passage from Toronto to Victoria for Canada 150

Click to play video: 'Icebreaker C3 cruising the Northwest Passage from Toronto to Victoria for Canada 150'
Icebreaker C3 cruising the Northwest Passage from Toronto to Victoria for Canada 150

The Canada C3 expedition (“coast to coast to coast”) began in Toronto on June 1, 2017 and will finish in Victoria on Oct. 28, 2017. Find out more about its mission, the scientific and cultural activities on board and the various stops here.

The giant duck (Ontario, summer): The now-infamous Canada 150 giant rubber duck will be touring Ontario’s waterfront communities as part of the Redpath Waterfront Festival and Ontario 150 tour.

The duck-tour is costing $200,000 and the duck itself has been called an illegal counterfeit. Catch all the duck-drama it while you can!

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The duck, which stands six stories tall, will be at the Redpath Waterfront Festival between July 1 and 3. Redpath WaterFest / Twitter


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