Canada Day Parade Montreal 2017 Défilé du Fête du Canada

Canada Day Parade in Montreal: From Procession to Cake

The Montreal Canada Day Parade runs July 1, 2017.
••• Montreal's Canada Day Parade is one of July's leading highlights. Andy Gural / Getty Images

The Canada Day Parade Montreal hosts every year since 1978, called Défilé de la Fête du Canada in French, is back! So mark July 1, 2017 on your calendars and be poised to celebrate as of 11 a.m.

Canada Day Parade Montreal 2017: When, Where

To attend the 2017 Canada Day Parade in Montreal, just show up at 11 a.m. on Ste. Catherine Street, between Fort and Peel for a peek, with the parade officially starting at the corner of Fort and Ste.

Catherine. By public transit, get off at either Guy-Concordia or Peel Metro. The parade ends at Place du Canada, at the corner of Ste. Catherine and Peel where yet more festivities await Montrealers. View a map of the Montreal Canada Day Parade route.

How About Some Canada Day Cake? Shows? Dragons?

Between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., the 40th edition of the parade wraps up at Square Phillips ( map) and a huge cake measuring 1.22 metres by 2.44 metres (4' by 8') is served, expected to feed up to 2,500 people. Past editions included free coffee, live shows, concerts and more, including a colorful dragon dance courtesy of Montreal's Chinese community. There will also be inflatable games for kids on site. All activities and cake are free of charge and run until 4 p.m. but likely earlier. For more information, check out the Montreal Canada Day Parade website.

The First Canada Day Parade in Montreal

Montreal began hosting a Canada Day Parade in 1977, just months after the separatist political party, Le Parti Québécois, first came to power back in November 1976.

Initiated by Montreal 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 Canada Day festivities outside of the province and a conspicuous reflection of Quebec's political division: the sovereigntists versus the federalists.

But this didn't stop the parade from carrying on. Its processional size and public participation grew as several of Montreal's ethnic communities showed a strong presence: Chinese, German, Armenian, Indian, Hungarian, Iranian, Greek, Italian, Turk, Indonesian, Polish, Philippino, Danish, Persian, Malagasy, Dutch, Sri Lankan, Irish and Japanese are just some of the cultures represented.

And the grass roots parade keeps growing, with crowds of 40,000 or more attending one of Montreal's most beautiful parades. It's personally one of my favorite, if only for its celebration of the city's -and Canada's- diverse melting pot of cultures who, together, have created the home we live in today.

Why Did the Parade Route Keep Changing?

It's not entirely clear if Montreal's Canada Day Parade route variations are a matter of logistics, politics or both.

Organizers were not particularly forthcoming in addressing this question in years past, suggesting politics are involved. Concerns that the parade might offend sovereigntists and lead to uprisings may be some of the reason the parade's route kept changing in the past but in 2010, 2014, and 2015, it was changed over ongoing construction to Place du Canada that led to the route extending itself several blocks, reaching Phillips Square.

And ironically, uncertainty concerning federal funding from Heritage Canada was also an issue threatening the viability of holding a Montreal Canada Day Parade altogether.