Much like Independence Day in the U.S., Canada Day celebrates the birth of a nation with parades, fireworks, barbecues, and parties all across the country. The Canadian holiday is July 1, days before the States' July Fourth celebrations, and calls for wearing red and white to match the Maple Leaf Flag. If you're going to be in Montreal on Canada Day, you won't want to miss the Défilé de la Fête du Canada, the Canada Day Parade.
Many Canada Day events have been altered or canceled in 2020. Check details below and the websites of organizers for up-to-date information.
Montreal has been hosting a grand Canada Day parade for more than 40 years now. To attend, just show up in the area of Fort and Saint-Catherine Streets, where the parade route starts at 11 a.m. It showcases all sorts of dancers, marching bands, drummers, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ("Mounties"), all marching towards Place du Canada, at the corner of Saint-Catherine and Peel. At the finish, even more festivities, such as face painting and caricature art—not to mention a colossal cake that allegedly feeds 2,500 people—await Canada Day revelers.
In order to get to the start of the parade by public transit, you can get off the Montreal Metro at either Guy-Concordia or Peel station. Alternatively, you can stop further along the route using a map of the Montreal Canada Day Parade.
The First Canada Day Parade in Montreal
This Québec city began hosting a Canada Day Parade in 1978, shortly after the separatist political party, Le Parti Québécois, first came to power back in November 1976. Initiated by local cardiologist Roopnarine Singh, the first Canada Day Parade in Montreal was no more than a few cars tooting their horns around the city, a pale comparison to other Canada Day festivities around the country and a conspicuous reflection of Québec's political division: the sovereigntists versus the federalists.
This, however, didn't prevent the parade from happening. The size of the parade and public participation grew as several of Montreal's ethnic communities began to get involved. As a result, the parade also began to feature representations of cultures and traditions from all over the world including China, Germany, Armenia, India, Hungaria, Iran, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Indonesia, Poland, the Philippines, Denmark, Malaga, Holland, Sri Lanka, Ireland, and Japan. Now, Canada Day celebrations in Montreal and around the country are a celebration of all cultures and traditions, not just Canadian.
After the parade each year, Place du Canada hosts the afterparty featuring live shows, food, kid-friendly activities, and all-ages entertainment. At Square Phillips, you can enjoy a complimentary slice of 4-foot-by-8-foot cake in honor of the holiday, served up between 1:30 and 2 p.m.
Once you've grabbed a sugary snack, stick around for the performances, including colorful dragon dances courtesy of Montreal's Chinese community. There will also be inflatable toys for kids on site and a variety of other activities and games available free of charge until around 4 p.m.
To end the evening, head up to Mont Real for a great view of the fireworks show that lights up the city at 10 p.m. Additional events take place throughout the day and evening at the Jacques-Cartier Pier in the Old Port of Montreal—this is the city's official Canada Day celebration. The event includes a 21-gun salute to the nation, a traditional raising of the Canadian flag ceremony, a variety of workshops and performances, and several different food, arts, and crafts vendors, all for free.