This year, I was fortunate enough to have my trip to Canada coincide with Canada's 150th birthday. I hadn't been back to Canada on July 1st for 13 years, so the passion with which many people celebrated Canada Day was quite pleasant and refreshing to see.
Usually, it is incredibly easy for tourists to pick up a Canadian flag from one of the many novelty shops along Yonge Street in the downtown area. They're fairly reasonable and you'd be hard pressed to enter a store that didn't have a decent stock of them. But this year one of the main news stories centred on how not one flag remained in stores after patriotic Canadians bought every last one of them. Touring around the streets of Toronto, or cruising down the highway before, on, and after Canada Day served to emphasize just how popular the Canadian flag had become. There were entire apartment buildings covered in the familiar red maple leaf flag, houses with rows of them planted in the place of flowers, and even dogs and cats wearing fashionable versions of them.
On Canada Day, spirits were high and customer service was beyond excellent. Complete strangers wished each other a Happy Canada Day, churches held barbecues with free hot dogs and soft drinks, there were live bands and performers in the streets, and a handful of people walked around in flashy red and white costumes. Perhaps the most memorable character that I came across on Canada Day was an old man who was roaming through the St. Lawrence Market - the most famous fresh meat/cheese/seafood market in Toronto. He was dressed entirely in red and white with a long red cape, and was wearing a very large top hat with the flag pasted on it. He was also carrying a big cane that reminded me of Old Saint Nick. Although he was not being paid to do so, he wandered up to passersby on the streets and shared his cheerful celebratory attitude with anyone who stopped to take a picture with him.
My family spent most of the day downtown, enjoying the free entertainment and reminiscing about the last time we'd all been together for Canada Day. Later on, my father barbecued spare ribs and shrimps in the backyard, and we ended the night by watching the fireworks display on TV. It was a fun and eventful day that really brought out the best in every Canadian who celebrated it.