By Charlie Senack
It was a successful 41st Canada Day in Barrhaven as thousands descended to Clarke Fields for the annual celebrations.
New this year, the festivities began with a Country Fest on the main stage June 30. Canada Day started with a seniors breakfast followed by cultural performances, a kids zone, and musical performances.
“It was a very successful Canada Day and we were so happy to see so many people come out for a good time,” said Darrell Bartraw, president of Canada Day in Barrhaven. “Despite the weather we saw large crowds who enjoyed the midway, music acts and fireworks.”
A series of weather alerts were issued throughout the afternoon, and there were concerns it would rain the festivities out. The park shut down after thunder and lightning was spotted, but reopened about an hour later.
The event was attended by Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod, Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre, and councillors Wilson Lo and David Hill.
In his speech, Poilievre, who is Carleton’s MP and the former federal representative for Nepean, compared the dark skies to the state of the country.
“This is the greatest country in the world founded by freedom, supported by generations who have passed it down from one to the next. It’s a country where it doesn’t matter if your name is Martin or Mohamed, Chang or Charles, Singh or Smith, or whether you worship Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or not at all,” he said. “As long as you’re prepared to work hard and serve others you can get ahead. That’s the country we know and love.”
During the afternoon show, an hour was dedicated towards Indigenous culture. Dance performances, singing, and drumming were part of the acts.
“It’s important to recognize that we are on the unceded territory of the First Nations people,” said Bartraw. “We need to embrace their culture and education.”
New this year, a vendor village was set up with over 30 local small businesses selling their products.
Monkey Rock Music, a “unique and exciting activity for kids”, was first to take over the stage followed by Starfire and headliner Star 80. The night concluded with a 15-minute firework display which was launched from the baseball diamond this year to give spectators a better view. The next day, a classic car show was held at the park.
While Canada Day has been celebrated in Barrhaven for over four decades, there is concern the event won’t continue for future generations without funding. It costs around $130,000 to run, and is covered partly through grants and private sponsors.
“I am totally embarrassed that so many people in Barrhaven came to this year’s 41st Anniversary of Mattamy Homes Canada Day in Barrhaven taking in all the free activities and couldn’t even make a $5.00 donation,” said Bartraw, who added only 50 people donated to their GoFundMe campaign.
“We will be holding a post-mortem soon on the event to decide if we can continue to have this event for years to come,” he added.
While the future of the event is in limbo, other activities will be held in Barrhaven this summer. A family fun fair will return to Clarke Fields from Aug 3-7. A rhythm culture fest will be held at the same location on Aug 12 and 13, and another classic car show will be held there Aug. 20.
In September, the West Barrhaven Community Association will hold a sausage and corn boil at Larkin Park. That will be followed by Remembrance Day celebrations outside John McCrae High School on Nov. 11, and the annual Barrhaven Santa Claus Parade Nov. 19.
“While we might be a community of 100,000 residents, we still have a community feel in Barrhaven,” said Bartraw, who is also the lead organizer for many of the events. “With community support we can ensure a full calendar of events can continue for families to enjoy.”