Being an Ottawan, growing up I thought that the whole country turned into a party on Canada's (totally colonial and problematic) birthday. When I went to university, I learned from friends that the rest of the country doesn't care that much. In Quebec, the extreme version, people call it "moving day", as the uncelebrated national holiday is a convenient opportunity to move on a week day.
Pretty much every holiday in Ottawa is focused on family and friends. Which is great. But Canada Day is the one time of the year, besides during Olympic men's hockey finals, that tens of thousands of people come together to celebrate together.
A typical July 1 in Ottawa for me would include breakfast with family or friends, possibly with mimosas or beer included. This year was particularly lovely; my parents, bestie, Irishman, and I walked 4 km to my parents' weekend breakfast spot (Chances R) and had big breakfasts with a lot of coffee refills. After ditching my parents, who opted for a quiet day, we grabbed the bus, free all day, to downtown.
We met up with more friends, queued for an unusually long time, and parked ourselves on the lawn at Parliament Hill, the building where Canada's national government does its thing. At noon and at night are concerts featuring Canadian talent. This year I was excited that some of my favourites, Coeur de Pirate and Metric, were headlining.
Our afternoon was spent eating poutine and drinking beer and Caesars at bars around downtown. We made it to Majors Hill park for another poutine and to watch the 10 pm fireworks before snagging the last bus home to the suburbs.
It's no Carnivale or Mardi Gras, but I love it. Positive vibes from a diverse crowd? Bring it on, Ottawa.