Canada Day celebrations are pretty tame this year. No fireworks. No live concerts playing loudly into the night. No rowdy people ramping up the noise.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the City of St. Albert to cancel its traditional outdoor celebrations, but virtual July 1 activities take place throughout the day.
Capping the day is a pre-taped online concert featuring George Canyon, St. Albert’s Dan Davidson, Nuela Charles, River Poets and Kym Simon.
“This year is different. We weren’t sure what would happen. When we got together with surrounding municipalities as we often do, we decided to collaborate together,” said Kristen Schopper, the city's events facilities scheduling supervisor.
Fort Saskatchewan, Devon, Leduc, Beaumont, Strathcona County, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove and St. Albert have pitched in to organize and share a single digital celebration.
The revamped festivities highlight Canadian history, our can-do spirit, talent and creativity, Schopper emphasized.
Throughout the day, families can download a digital book packed with 17 Canadian-themed activities and crafts. Check out instructions on how to fabricate a mini-drum, build an edible Inukshuk, plan a scavenger hunt or watch a rocket launch.
The day’s highlight is a 90-minute virtual concert that kicks off at 6 p.m. Each act will sing four songs that were pre-taped at staggered times in Fort Saskatchewan’s Shell Theatre. Each segment is then pieced together through FMAV Production, a national audiovisual event technology company.
Country singer George Canyon is without a doubt the biggest name on the bill. He’s recorded 12 albums and won numerous Juno Awards, Canadian Country Music Awards and was inducted into the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall.
He’s also acted in films and television, and is a well-respected humanitarian, a strong supporter of Canada’s military and an advocate for diabetes research.
“The last time I met George was last summer at Gone Country in Abbotsford,” said Dan Davidson. “He’s really a cowboy type. He’s kind of like a country crooner. He doesn’t need to say much and people listen. He’s a great songwriter and he has a great character voice.”
Davidson, whose signature is more energetic, is no slouch either. He’s won eight Association of Country Music in Alberta awards, released a gold record and burned the charts with a No. 1 song. Along with his band, the St. Albert artist will sing Last Call, Barn Burner, Found and Let’s Go There.
Accompanying him is Tyler Dianocky (lead guitar), Greg Williamson (drums), Darren Gusnowsky (guitar/backup singer) and Curtis Epner (bass). Due to COVID restrictions, the last time the fivesome played together was in Dec. 2019.
“I thought we’d be a lot rustier. But we picked up where we left off. I think it’s because we did so many shows last year. It felt awesome to be together. But it was tough to pretend we had a big, live audience when we only had a one-camera guy,” laughed Davidson.
Nuela Charles is another force to be reckoned with and an uplifting addition to Canada Day. The Edmonton-based singer-songwriter graces the pop-soul plane of Canadian music showcasing powerful vocals and a dynamic stage presence. Her music is sassy, empowering and commands respect.
Award-winning Kym Simon, a feisty country music singer raised in Stettler, has paved her own distinctive path on the country scene. Known across the country scene, she has a powerhouse voice, a natural and easy stage presence, and a cheeky wit.
Last but not least, the River Poets are a folk-rock musical duo from Leduc. The two brothers, Jo and Cabel Johnson, sing original material that reflects Canada’s social, historical and geographical roots.
Organizers are also encouraging residents to get creative and post a Canada Day photo or make a video and tag it with #T8NTogether or join in national celebrations at #CelebrateTogether.
For a complete list of events and activities, visit the City of St. Albert website at stalbert.ca/rec/community/events/canada/