02 JAN 2013: The world didn’t end in 2012, so here’s a look at what will be making headlines around Canada in 2013. Grab a glass of your favourite libation, kick up your heels, and check out some of these milestone events and why they’re a big deal:

Victoria’s Chinatown 155th Celebrations
Nice to see the Chinese Year of the Snake roll in but it’s doubly nice to know Canada’s oldest Chinatown is celebrating 155 years. Join them for a memorable arts and performance party on February 23 at the Royal RBC Museum.

150th Annual Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival
Get mad about plaid during this 9-day festival where there’s guaranteed to be a Highland jig or two. Highlights: the Tartan Parade, Kilted Golf Tournament, Tilted Kilt Pub Crawl, Torchlight Ceremony and, of course the 2-day Highland Games and Celtic Festival.
May 11-19, 2013, Topaz Park, Victoria

65th anniversary of Jasper the Bear
This cuddly cartoon character, now the mascot for Jasper National Park, started life off with a stroke of the pencil. Manitoban cartoonist James Nathaniel Simpkins illustrated the anatomically correct figure for a Maclean’s issue back in 1948. It’s been a bear-y good time ever since.

Jasper’s 100th birthday

No longer known as Fitzhugh, when this lonely outpost got a name change it soon became a sought after destination for fur traders and lumber jacks not to mention vacationers who frequented the lavish Jasper Park Lodge (now part of the Fairmont luxury hotel brand).

Cave and Basin National Historic Site reopens
After a two-year $13.8 million renovation project, the iconic landmark is ready to WOW visitors again. Watch for a new Story Hall celebrating Parks Canada from sea to sea, and new exhibits.
May 2013

Across Ontario: 200th anniversary of major military events of the War of 1812
This hugely significantly long war (32 months) continues its bicentennial celebration with many festivals taking place in the Great Lakes and along the St. Lawrence River. One of the big events is the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2013. The others are organized by the St. Lawrence Bicentennial Alliance (http://celebrate1812.ca/page/plan-your-visit)
August 30-September 1, 2013

400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain’s arrival to Ottawa

He was the first European to have stepped foot in what is now known as Ottawa. There are plenty of themed events planned around the National Capital Region which will lead up to the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.

75th anniversary of Gatineau Park
While the big parties commemorating the debut of Ottawa’s outdoor playground start in summer, Gatineau Park’s getting its white powder ready to host another milestone event: the 35th Gatineau Loppet teaming skiers in this brow-raising race considered Canada’s largest cross-country ski event ever.

35th annual Winterlude
This crowd-pleasing festival big on skating, snow sculptures, and plain outdoor winter fun is bracing for a fab year full of even more fun. Watch for tasty treats, concerts, and zany competitions not to mention a skate down the world’s largest skating rink.
February 1-18, 2013

The Laura Secord Bicentennial Event and Commemorative Walk

Never under estimate the power of a petite woman overhearing a conversation between enemy forces dining in her kitchen. That was Laura Secord who risked her life as she tirelessly trekked no-man’s land to alert our side on the top-secret American plan. The War of 1812 continues bicentennial celebrations of sorts. This one focuses on the historic walk that would help change the course of the war in Canada’s favour. It’s organized by the Friends of Laura Secord.
June 22, 2013

Harriet Tubman 100th anniversary of her death

This gutsy fire-in-the-belly African-American abolitionist, a runaway slave herself risked her life and the lives of countless others as she travelled on the invisible Underground Railroad northward in a harrowing escape to the Promised Land aka Canada. St. Catharines, her temporary home base, is planning on special commemorative events but the other huge milestone events are taking place across America.

Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre turns 100
The world’s last operating double-decker theatre celebrates its centennial. When The Elgin debuted on December 15, 1913 vaudeville was the rage and fans couldn’t be more tickled to walk through this theatre palace decked in Tiffany-style chandeliers and the works. Watch for special events, and behind-the-scene tours. You also can help contribute to the special Chandelier Project to bring the Elgin back to its lustre.

The King Edward Hotel turns 110

Toronto’s first luxury hotel might be lost with the onslaught of newer hotel luxury brands coming to town but the regal grandeur and its strong legacy continue to thrive especially now more than ever. Built by Toronto’s richest man of the time, George Gooderham of Gooderham and Worts distillery fame, the historic property is currently undergoing a massive renovation and remains open. Watch for the reopening of the Crystal Ballroom!

Panda-monium hits Toronto Zoo in the spring of 2013

Black and white used to mean a ritzy tie affair but no longer as Toronto prepares to welcome a pair of cuddly black and white pandas from China known as Ji Li (female: meaning pretty, achievement) and Er Shun (male: meaning double smoothness). The Toronto Zoo is their home until 2018.

Stratford Festival turns 60 years old
We can thank Stratford-born journalist, Tom Patterson, plus a few others for realizing the extraordinary dream to make a riveting Shakespeare festival on this side of the Pond. Now home to North America’s largest classical repertory theatre, many great thespians have adorned its stage since first opening that glorious summer night in 1953. Talk about a grand entrance. The inaugural performance was Richard III starring Alec Guinness in the lead role.
July 13, 2013 – special anniversary

125th Anniversary of Queen Victoria Park: Niagara Falls
With a floral pageant of spring blossoms blanketing the epic park, it really doesn’t get any nicer. What began as a preservation among like minded souls, this slice of green has been a heavily trafficked place ever since. It’s also fitting the park opened on the Queen’s birthday.
May 24, 2013

20th Anniversary of Canada’s longest-running fireworks series

By a star studded sky and with a thundering Niagara Falls backdrop, millions have gushed over the free grand pyrotechnic spectacle on summer Friday nights. Watch a special evening on July 2, 2013.

Montreal's 10th Nuit Blanche

During dreary dull winter nights comes this spectacular all-nighter festival. It’s the only Nuit Blanche in the world to take place in winter. Who knew winter white and ‘blanche’ can match so well. The stupendous evening has over 170 (mostly free) events and is the grand finale to the Montreal en Lumiere Festival.
March 2, 2013

Saguenay- Lac Saint-Jean’s 175th anniversary

This swath of Quebec steeped in rich history once fueled by fur traders, loggers and before them the mighty Pekuakamiulnuatsh is preparing for a special year.
Watch for developments at http://fete175slsj.ca/fr/home

Fortress of Louisbourg’s 300th Anniversary
Get ready to celebrate the founding of Isle Royale (aka Cape Breton Island) like never before. Louisbourg, once a thriving fortified French settlement and capital of Isle Royale, was a New World hot spot; but met its demise and was totally destroyed. In the sixties, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker made it his mission to resurrect the ghost town. This National Historic Site, managed by Parks Canada, remains the largest reconstruction project in North America. Watch for plenty of festivities.

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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