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Canada celebrates 145th birthday

Canada celebrates 145th birthday
The Royal Canadian Air Force’s precision flying team, the Snowbirds, performed over Ottawa July 1, 2012, in observance of the country’s 145th founding anniversary. RCAF supplied photo.

OTTAWA, July 1 (UPI) -- Most of Canada had good weather Sunday as the country celebrated its 145th birthday with outdoor parties, music, barbecues and fireworks.

Tens of thousands of people fled cities to cottage, camping and resort areas Friday and Saturday in advance of the long weekend. As early as Friday, there were 2-hour waits for drivers to cross the border from Ontario to New York state in and around Niagara Falls. Many Canadians prefer shopping at lower prices in the United States and also participate in the U.S. Fourth of July celebrations.

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This year also marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812 in which U.S. forces invaded the Niagara region and what is now Toronto, but were ultimately defeated by British, French and Indian fighters. In response, the British later went on to burn down the original White House in Washington.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper noted how times have changed.

"The United States today is our good neighbor and close friend," Harper said. "But the border was once a place of fear and hostility, where almost exactly two centuries ago, an American invasion of Canada was launched."

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In the capital of Ottawa, a midday celebration on Parliament Hill began, attended by Harper and his family, Governor General David Johnston and his wife, along with thousands of people wearing red and white and waving Canadian flags.

The Royal Canadian Air Force's precision flying team, the Snowbirds, was scheduled to do a performance over the capital, and a large fireworks display was set to begin after sundown.

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