This story was updated on June 25 to add more names to the list of performers.
Canada Day in Nelson: thousands of people of all ages, a giant cake, a stage-full of entertainment, fireworks – all spread extravagantly across the grass and sand of Lakeside Park for the entire day and evening.
But not this year.
Because of provincial restrictions on large gatherings during COVID-19, the celebrations will stream online for an hour on Canada Day, from 10 to 11 a.m.
The Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, the usual organizer, has teamed up with the Capitol Theatre to produce the event.
“We thought we could bring the community together and just keep the tradition alive despite the fact we can’t be together in the park,” said the theatre’s Stephanie Fischer, “and we can enjoy a few words from the mayor and from other people and think about Canada.”
Performers are Johnny Poutina (Les Dancing Legs), Pat Henman and Sydney Black (Black Productions), Petunia Rae (Circus Acts Insomniacs), authors Anne DeGrace and Diana Morita Cole, as well as a light show. Métis elder Donna Wright will perform and opening and closing drumming ceremony.
Speakers include Capitol’s board chair Claire Hallam, Arrow Lakes Cultural Facilitator for the Colville Confederated Tribes Shelly Boyd, and, as is the tradition, Mayor John Dooley will cut the cake.
The performances have already been pre-recorded at the Capitol, whose staff will edit them into a one-hour performance that can be found on Canada Day on the websites or the Facebook pages of the theatre and the chamber and on the Capitol’s YouTube channel.
The Canada Day cake won’t feed 1,000 people this year.
“It’s not the $900 cake we usually have,” says Thomson. “For this one we saved a little bit of money and we got a $7.99 cake.”
He said the event will benefit from the usual funding from the federal government’s Celebrate Canada, which will allow the chamber to pay performers an honorarium.
“The cake will be back next year if everything is back on track — and the fireworks and the entertainment down at Lakeside Park, one of the best Canada Day locations in Canada,” Thomson said.