Tom Ross, of the Upper Thames Military Re-enactment Society, closes his eyes Sunday, March, 4, 2012 as he fires his weapon during a ceremony marking the anniversary of the Battle of the Longwoods, at the actual battle site during the Anglo-American - War of 1812, that occurred March 4, 1813 near Wardsville, Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley The Canadian Press
Canada's official commemorative plan leading up to the country's 150th birthday highlights an arsenal of battles and wars, a smattering of sports and a nod to the Arctic, newly obtained documents show.
The coming throne speech is expected to trumpet some of the almost two dozen milestones — and federal plans to mark them through 2017 — as part of an emphasis on celebrating Canadian pride.
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There will be continuing efforts to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the 150th anniversary of the Fenian Raids, the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War.
The government's Interdepartmental Commemorations Committee has also singled out the 200th anniversary of the births of Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Etienne Cartier as well as the 175th of Sir Wilfrid Laurier's entry into the world.
In addition, the list — released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act — includes the 50th anniversary of the Canada Games, the 125th of the Stanley Cup and the 100th of both the National Hockey League and a Canadian expedition to the Arctic.
The various milestones will be celebrated with ceremonies, education campaigns, plaques, books, coins, performances and even an ice sculpture.
History left out
University of Ottawa history professor Michael Behiels said the list represents a traditional and exceptionally narrow approach that excludes much of Canada's social, medical and technological history.
"You have to build a broader base here ... for it to be really meaningful," Behiels said.
There is no mention of settling the west, the trials and tribulations of working people or legal landmarks that transformed Canada's social landscape, he noted.
The decisions about what to commemorate should have involved more consultation with Canadians, Behiels added. "There are all kinds of brilliant people out there who can be brought in to make this process more inclusive and comprehensive."
The Canadian Heritage Department did not make anyone available Wednesday to answer questions about the process.
Among the specific projects discussed in the documents:
— Banners along Ottawa's Confederation Boulevard and a mobile telephone app featuring the residences of Fathers of Confederation to celebrate the 150th anniversaries of the instrumental Charlottetown and Quebec conferences;
— A National Film Board documentary on the Royal 22e Regiment to mark the onset of the Second World War;
— A plaque on Parliament Hill to honour the birth of Cartier, who led Quebec into Confederation.
The federal government has already backed numerous projects to commemorate the War of 1812, prompting criticism that it is trying to glorify Canada's military history for political purposes.
Vimy Ridge, Dieppe Raid
The latest list mentions plans to highlight various First World War battles including Vimy Ridge, as well as the Dieppe Raid and Battle of Hong Kong in the Second World War.
A roster of 40 secondary milestones is also heavy on military events, though it does include the founding of cultural institutions such as the National Arts Centre and the National Gallery of Canada, the inception of regular mail service and the Nellie McClung petitions to allow women to vote in Alberta.
The notes say these are anniversaries identified by the committee that may be marked by federal departments or agencies, other levels of government or non-government organizations.
"This information is used to strategically position government priorities and to co-ordinate the various commemoration plans of federal departments and agencies."
The secondary list includes the 100th anniversaries of Canada's submarine service, the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve and the opening of Camp Valcartier, as well as the 75th anniversaries of the Commonwealth Air Training Program and the founding of Camp X, the wartime Ontario training school for secret operatives.
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