At first, Canadians showed little interest in marking the centennial. The announcement of a federal program to plan the celebration was met with initial indifference. After all, the event to be celebrated was spectacularly uninteresting—the nation was founded not in blood and revolution, but by discussion and negotiation, bewhiskered men in nineteenth-century frock coats sitting around tables for palaver. But a funny thing happened in the weeks leading to New Year’s Day, 1967. Canadians embraced the official plans for a celebration and, encouraged by government largesse, began making plans of their own. For one happy, giddy, insane year, a normally reserved people decided to hold a blockbuster party from coast to coast to coast.
Initiatives ranged from epic canoe trips and dangerous dogsled treks to bathtub races. An Albertan town decided to build a UFO landing pad. Hundreds of other centennial projects can still be found in almost every city and hamlet across Canada. The best athletes in the hemisphere gathered for the Pan American Games in Winnipeg. The climax of the party was the world’s fair held on man-made islands in the middle of the St. Lawrence River near Montreal.
Richly illustrated with period photographs and ephemera, here is the story of that fun, exciting year, told in the same giddy spirit with which Canadians celebrated. Uncover the strange and unique ways that individual Canadians marked the occasion, the birth of traditions, and the moment when Canadians discovered who they were and got a hint about who they were to become in this modern age. Once hewers of wood and pliers of water, they discovered a talent for literature, for design, for athletics, for innovation. And above all, it was a party never to be forgotten. Fifty years later, Canadians are once again celebrating a major milestone in their history, and once again, things are starting off with a collective yawn. Will the national spirit once again burst into flame? It could—if Canadians take a cue from the unlikely, inspiring story of The Year Canadians Lost Their Minds and Found Their Country.
Paperback/Softcover 208 pages, scores of images