Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Canada’s Birthday Town

Posted by auroracitizen on July 8, 2009

A reader asked, “Why is Aurora ‘Canada’s Birthday Town’?”

We’ve all seen it everywhere (for a long time) but we don’t know where and why it originated. Anybody know?

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7 Responses to “Canada’s Birthday Town”

  1. Anonymous said

    I remember those parades they were great fun and the whole town would show up for them. We would all follow after to get to Fleury park for the festivities. The centre of town was alive. We had great times there and Evelyn your post brings back great memories of the true small town Aurora once was. Thanks Aurora was great town to grow up in.

  2. Evelyn Buck said

    Canada's Centennial was celebrated across the land in 1967 under the Minister of Culture the Honourable Judy La Marsh, Member of Parliament from the City of Niagara.

    Norm Stewart was a resident of Richardson Drive,He had been a master sergeant in the Canadian Peace Keeping Forces. He organised a fantastically successful street party in his neighbourhood on the day.

    Norm subsequently was elected to council and brought his enthusiasm for celbrating the day to Council. He referred to the July 4th Celbrations of our neighbours to the south and successfully argued we should do no less.

    He was the force behind the event. The town passed a bylaw requiring all businesses to close on the day so that everyone would be able to participate.
    It was decided only seed money would be provided from town coffers and it would be repaid.

    The Committee Chairperson would be a citizen and no politician would be allowed to exploit the event.
    All service clubs and organisations would be invited to participate, all revenues would pay for the celebration, re-pay seed money to the town and have a reserve for the next year.

    The celebration would not cost the taxpayer.

    There was was a cabaret in the auditorium of our State of the Art community centre.
    It was family friendly and cost a dollar. Judy Rogers,wife of the Ckerk Administrator,entertained with song. Jan Ochalski the vet circulated tables playing his accordian.
    There were fireworks at dusk. A birthday ball. A giant cake. needing two men to carry, with a myriad of candles flickering brought forward at midnight to cheers from the merry-makers.

    Bobby Gimbey came down in a helicopter and led a throng of children singing "Canada…We Love You" a song composed for the Canada's Centennial.

    There were balloon races, beef roasted on a spit by the Lion's Club for beef on a bun.

    A beer garden in the community centre was a homecoming for people who had lived here and came back to celebrate the day with us.

    Service clubs took turns serving beer in jugs and they worked like trojans.

    Children decorated prams and bicycles and competed in the costume event.
    Annabelle Blackof Victoria Street sewed for weeks for her children and cleaned up on the prizes.

    Neighbourhoods and organisations entered floats .Pat Barber, an artist and potter who lived on my street worked for months on imaginative themes.
    Lyle Glover an artist resident of Catherine Avenue and a cartoonist extraordinaire, designed a flag for the occasion.
    On a white field a catherine wheel of black and red spun and in the hedonistic excitement of success we called ourselves Canada's Birthday Town.

    We took the title because the event was not, at that time, being given due recognition anywhere at the community level.

    Norm Stewart was the dietician at St Andrew's College, a member of the Aurora Legion and an associate of Queen's York Rangers Militia. He was also on hand to assist every organisation in town with professional expertise whenever and wherever he was needed.

    When Norm Stewart was involved, events had style and flare and rigid adherence to the principle "Community First."

    He stood for the privilege of service.

  3. Something Fishy in Aurora said

    From the limited searches I did….

    It is only an Aurora thing.

    And yes Batman, I agree…..

  4. Batman said

    I'm still confused (and maybe it's just me)…

    So do JUST citizens of Aurora know it as "Canada's Birthday Town" or is that tag official all around Canada?

    I read the Auroran this week and noticed that a certain individual used that term every other sentence in her letter to the newspaper so I wrongly assumed that she had made it up herself and was self-promoting as usual.

  5. Anonymous said

    I have seen these stories before and I have to admit the "Birthday Town" handle is really just made up. I would hazard a guess that you could travel to a number of small towns in the country and find other "Birthday Towns" because the same history has occured.

    I don't want to throw water onto a fire – the effort is good – but you would think that Aurora and it's sub-committe would try to become "Canada's Official Birthday Town". I think that effort would be worthy of Town funds.

    I just think the "Birthday Town" thing is cheesey because it has no status. Sher St. Kitt's could call herself Canada's Birthday lady!

  6. Heather said

    Great question! 🙂

    I remember when we made the change from Dominion Day to Canada Day, but I don't ever remember it 'not' being Canada's 'birthday'.

    "The birthday party became an annual event and the town was dubbed "Canada's Birthday Town."

    Dubbed by the townsfolk themselves or is it 'official' – is it the town's moniker (like Vaughan's – The City above Toronto)?

  7. Something Fishy in Aurora said

    From a couple of different sources

    http://www.yorkregion.com/News/Aurora/article/91426

    “According to the York Region Tourism website, local legend tells it was Aurora resident and councillor Norm Stewart who came up with the idea to throw a big street celebration on Dominion Day, July 1, to acknowledge Canada's centennial. The celebration became an annual event and grew year after year, leading to the town receiving the handle”

    http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/doc?docId=4669

    “Aurora – Canada’s Birthday Town. In 1969, many citizens were concerned because Canadians in general took
    little or no notice of our Country’s National Birthday. With the aid of Town Council and all Town organizations,
    a Civic Birthday Party was arranged and this has become an annual event and Aurora has become known as
    “Canada’s Birthday Town”. In 1988, Aurora celebrated its 125th birthday as a village and 100th anniversary of
    incorporation as a Town. That now makes us 144 years old. Happy Birthday Canada and Aurora!”

    http://www.yorktourism.com/en/media/summerstoryideas.asp

    “Family: Aurora is Canada's birthday town
    In 1967, Canada's Centennial year, Norm Stewart, a local Aurora resident felt that the country's 100th birthday should be celebrated, so he took it upon himself to organize a big street party. The party was such a success, it was held again in 1968. By 1969, many Aurora citizens were concerned that Canadians in general took little or no notice of Canada's national birthday, so with the aid of the Aurora Town Council and several Aurora organizations, a civic party celebrating Canada's birthday was arranged. The birthday party became an annual event and the town was dubbed "Canada's Birthday Town."
    According to Heritage Canada, July 1 officially became Canada Day on October 27, 1982. Prior to 1982, July 1 was known as Dominion Day. The town of Aurora was truly ahead of its time. “

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