Taking the chill off winter with festivals, outdoor games and Canada’s longest sled-dog race

January 23 1995


Taking the chill off winter with festivals, outdoor games and Canada’s longest sled-dog race

January 23 1995


Taking the chill off winter with festivals, outdoor games and Canada’s longest sled-dog race



Jan 28-Feb. 6: Peter Grimes, Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Canadian tenor Ben Heppner stars in the Vancouver Opera’s production of Benjamin Britten’s tragedy.

Jan 28-30: Chinese New Year Festival, Plaza of Nations, Vancouver. Three days of music and dance celebrating the upcoming Year of the Boar.

Jan 28-29: Sea Lion Festival, Nanaimo. Wildlife displays, tours of the Island Phoenix woodcutting mill and boat trips to watch sea lions from Alaska and California converge for their annual feast on the herring of Northumberland Strait.


Jan. 20-22: International Ice Sculpture Competition, Chateau Lake Louise. Carvings by Canadian, American, and Japanese teams remain on display until March, chinooks permitting.

Jan. 21-Feb. 26: playRites, Calgary. The Prairies’ biggest showcase of new Canadian drama, presented by Alberta Theatre Projects, features readings, workshop productions and a scriptwriting competition.

Jan. 27-Feb. 5: Banff Winter Festival. A celebration of outdoor sports and recreation, including the Mountain Madness Relay Race and a torchlight parade.


Feb. 3-11: Wildcat Mushers Marathon, Hudson Bay. The third annual edition of Canada’s longest sled-dog race (a qualifying event for the Alaskan Iditarod, the Olympics of all sled-dog races), runs 800 km through Wildcat Hill Provincial Wilderness Park and surrounding forests. About 20 hardy contenders will spend a week in temperatures as low as 40° C, competing for the $3,400 first prize.


To Feb. 4: Hamlet, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg. Hollywood star Keanu Reeves leads the Centre’s actors on a Shakespearean adventure.

Jan. 20-28: New Music Festival, Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg. The festival, which features works by such modem composers as Canadian Composer of the Year Alexina Louie and the Grammy Award-winning John Corigliano, also includes the Canadian Composers Competition. Three finalists will have their works performed by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and broadcast live on CBC Stereo as they vie for $14,000 in prizes.

Mice on ice

It must be true what they say about Canadians—that they are among the hardiest people on earth. How else to explain the proliferation of carnivals, festivals and exhibitions designed to celebrate the Canadian winter? This month and next, in communities as large as Calgary and as small as Alberton, P.E.I., Canadians can be found taking sleigh rides, admiring ice sculptures and skating on frozen ponds and rivers, their mittened hands wrapped around steaming cups of hot chocolate.

The granddaddy of winter celebrations, of course, takes place in Que bec City. Now in its 41st year, the Quebec Winter Carnival is the oldest such event in the country, and the largest in the world. Despite the re cent proliferation of other winter parties across the country, the popularity of Quebec’s carnival is unwavering. Attendance for the 10-day event has held steady at about one million people for the past five years, and total revenues continue to top $50 million.

“We have the experience that other carnivals just don’t have,” says carnival president Sylvie Tremblay. “There’s a certain European cachet to Quebec City, as well: beautiful architecture, excellent restaurants and hotels, wonderful skiing. We’re not threatened by the others. As a matter of fact, we see them as partners as much as competitors. We all promote winter tourism in Canada.”

Also promoting the beauty of the Canadian winter this year is none other than everyone’s favorite American rodent, Mickey Mouse. Mickey and five of his Walt Disney friends will perform a daily show on the ice castle, as well as appearing at several events with carnival mascot Le Bonhomme. “We’re very excited,” says Tremblay. “It’s another way we’re trying to add more glamor to the carnival.”


Jan. 11-22: Bluebeard’s Castle/Erwartung, O’Keefe Centre, Toronto. The Canadian Opera Company’s intemationally celebrated Bartók and Schoenberg double bill, directed by Quebec’s Robert Lepage.

Feb. 2-18: Oleanna, the National Arts Centre, Ottawa. David Mamet’s controversial play about sexual harassment on campus. Feb. 3-5, 10-12 and 17-19: Ottawa Winterlude. The capital’s winter festival consists of more than 75 events, including skating races along the Rideau Canal, ice carving and the Ottawa Civic Hospital bed race.


Jan. 20-22: Métro World Cup Freestyle Skiing Championship, Lac-Beauport. Competitors from more than a dozen countries perform breathtaking acrobatics and delicate ballet-style routines on skis. Jan. 25-April 23: The Photographs of Edouard-Denis Baldus, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. An exhibit of rare mid-19th-century French cityscapes and views of the Paris-Lyon-Mediterranean railway taken by the pioneering architectural photographer.

Feb. 2-12: Quebec Winter Carnival. The 41st edition of the world’s biggest winter carnival features parades, tobogganing, ice-sculpture competitions and canoe races on the St. Lawrence River.

Feb 9-19: International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, Quebec City. Young teenagers from Canada, the United States and Europe suit up at the Colisée.


Jan. 25: Winter Dreams, Symphony New Brunswick, Saint John. New York Citybased guest pianist Masanobu Ikemiya joins the orchestra for Tchaikovsky’s First Symphony and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4.


Jan. 21-22: Open Studio Series, Dance Nova Scotia, Halifax. Canadian choreographers Véronique MacKenzie-Boume and Francine Boucher try out new works in the Grafton Street Theatre.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND Feb. 2-6: Alberton Spudster Winter Carnival. Four days of winter frolics, overseen by Spudster, the half-potato, half-lobster carnival mascot, are highlighted by a fancy-dress skate and a sliding party.


Jan. 20-22: Bay Bulls Winter Carnival. The seventh annual event focuses on children’s activities, from toboggan races to face-painting and a scavenger hunt.

NORTHWEST TERRITORIES Feb. 3-5: Kitikmeot Winter Games, Gjoa Haven. The King William Island community (1,900 km due north of Winnipeg) hosts the regional finals in Arctic sports, featuring the oneand two-foot-high kicks, the kneel jump, head pull and other traditional Inuit competitions.


Jan. 20: Cathryn Regher Fashion Showcase, Arts Centre, Whitehorse. The Yukon designer, a favorite of Hollywood stars, presents 65 garments from her spring collection.