THUNDER BAY -- Hockey, maple syrup and being overly polite are some of the things typically associated with Canada.
However, for many of the people celebrating Canada’s national holiday in Thunder Bay on Tuesday, it is the civil liberties that make the country as special as it is.
“(I’m proud) that we have a free country,” said James McFarling.
Along with his wife Mandi, Mike Fawcett brought his three children to the 19th century fur trade themed-park for the patriotic festivities.
“It’s the freedom that we get to enjoy and the outdoors,” Fawcett said of what it means to be Canadian.
Appreciating the freedom that is enjoyed from living in Canada was a common theme for a number of the hundreds of attendees at the celebration, one of many across the country celebrating the 147th anniversary of Confederation.
The historical park offered many children’s activities such as a scavenger hunt, carnival games, face painting and a tower.
The park also provided lessons in the history of the nation building process for Canada with a demonstration that included the collaborative role that First Nations, English-Canadians and French-Canadians played in developing the country.
It combined a canoe arrival ceremony at the outpost with cannon and musket fire, sites that were quite common more than 150 years ago.
Helena Kruzel, 12, said remembering the origins of Canada are a valuable part of the national holiday.
“It’s very important and really fun when you come here because you get to learn about it and see it instead of just listening about it,” Helena said.
From there the party shifted to Prince Arthur’s Landing, where at least 15,000 people were expected to converge to ring in the celebration.
City of Thunder Bay event supervisor Doug Henry said the annual Canada Day event takes months of extensive planning.
“It’s Thunder Bay’s largest single day event,” Henry said. “It’s Canada’s birthday. People want to come together as a community and citizens of our great nation and celebrate that.”
The event kicked off with the annual parade down Marina Park Drive, led by military veterans and the Thunder Bay Police Pipe Band.
They were joined by a crowd of red and white for their procession through the park.
Afterwards there were a number of vendors and activities available along with live entertainment on the main stage.
The highlight of the night, the fireworks show, is scheduled for 11 p.m.