1927 was another big year for Canada – the Diamond Jubilee, our sixtieth birthday. How did we celebrate back then? The “Programme of National Celebration at Ottawa” shows a packed day of activities on Parliament Hill, although there was no Bono, and even Gordon Lightfoot wasn’t around in those days. The day began with the laying of the Cornerstone of the “Confederation Block” [215 Wellington St.], followed by the inauguration of the Carillon in the Parliament Buildings. At 12:00 noon:
“Mr. Percival Price, carillonneur, will play on the carillon “O Canada,” “The Maple Leaf Forever,” “God Save the King.” Following this a royal salute will be fired, bells will be rung and whistles blown.”
The Afternoon and Evening Programmes contained a dizzying array of “Addresses” by prominent political figures, fortunately relieved by musical interludes and what may have been the highlight, a Dramatic Reading of the poem Dominion Day, 1927, “written for this occasion by the eminent Canadian poet, Bliss Carman”.
Using newfangled technology, the program was broadcast on radio, and “heard in Ottawa through amplifiers installed on Parliament Hill”. And what’s even more cool is that you can still listen to part of the broadcast, on CBC Digital Archives’ 1927: Diamond Jubilee Broadcast
But that wasn’t the end of the festivities; they continued into the next day. No Bono, but the Diamond Jubilee had its own international celebrity. At 12:00 noon was the “Arrival by Airplane of Col. Charles A. Lindbergh bearing greetings from the people of the United States.”
This was followed by the fun stuff: a sports competition with baseball, swimming, lacrosse, ladies’ softball, soccer, bowling, and more. It all ended up with “Dancing on the Green” at 9:30 p.m.
They knew how to party!