Organizers gear up for Vanier’s 50th anniversary celebrations

Series of events to take place from September to November

A lot can happen in 50 years – and in Vanier’s case, more than simply one day of celebrations could handle.

That is why the local community has decided to celebrate Vanier’s 50th birthday over the course of three months.

“I am getting excited,” said Marcel Aymar, director of the celebrations, as he reflects on how several anniversary projects take shape.

Aymar, who previously led Vanier’s annual Sugar Festival, was hired by Museoparc to manage the festivities.

Fifty years ago, the former city of Eastview voted to formally change its name to Vanier in honour of Georges Vanier, Canada’s 19th governor general and the first French Canadian to hold the position.

The name change was intended to better represent the area’s large Francophone population.

A half-century later, Vanier has retained its Francophone identity while evolving into one of Ottawa’s most diverse neighbourhoods. Aymer said it’s important for the 50th anniversary celebrations to reflect those different communities.

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“The focus on the celebrations will not be too much about the history, but more about what Vanier is today and the people and the residents who live here,” Aymar said.

Louis Pizza owner Mounir Saab has had a front-row seat to Vanier’s evolution over the 40-plus years he’s been in business at 181 McArthur Ave.

“The biggest change has been the amount of growing and successful businesses,” Saab said, adding that the community has continued to have friendly and inviting neighbours.

 

Musical performances

Working around the clock to get all the last-minute details sorter, Aymer said in only a few short months they have managed to plan several exciting events and features.

He added he is looking forward to letting the community know about all the events planned in mid-September.

“There are a few things that still need to be confirmed and organized,” Aymer said. “But I think once it all comes together, everyone is going to be happy.”

Tight-lipped on most of the fun, the organizer said that there would be both community events as well as an online component.

“The website will serve as sort of an archival space for the 50th,” Aymer explained.

Artists and musicians are recording performances that Aymer said they have either dedicated a song to Ottawa’s east-end neighbourhood or written a new one. The performances are taking place in iconic Vanier locations.

He added organizers felt this was the perfect website component because it is something no one can miss – near or far, former Vanier (and maybe a few Eastview residents) will be able to tune in and join in on the celebrations.

Museuoparc secured funding for Vanier’s 50th celebrations through a city grant.  Aymer said there would be various events, big and small, taking place from September to November.

He said they are still looking for more partnerships and funding and welcomes businesses to reach out to Vanier50.com if they would like to take part.

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury said it’s easy to list off various features that make Vanier unique. The councillor quickly rhymed off a few of Vanier’s great assets: Museoparc, a non-traditional street structure and network, a heavy French and artistic culture and, he adds, the only urban sugar shack in all of North America.

“Vanier has amazing features,” Fleury said.

However, he adds, that is not all Vanier has to offer.

“There is so much more to discover and to celebrate, he said. “(From) Its history, its present and its future.”

Vanier has seen significant changes over the last 50 years. Modern businesses have sprouted to join long-standing shops and restaurants, construction projects have altered its physical appearance and new residents from other parts of Ottawa and across the world have added to its diversity.

But Aymer said one thing – which will be a focus of the upcoming festivities – has remained the same: Vanier residents care for and take pride in the neighbourhood they call home.

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