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Event Overview

The Canso Causeway stretches over a narrow strait of water connecting Mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island. Considered a Canadian engineering feat in 1955, the span soon began to influence the economy and culture of Nova Scotia’s Strait of Canso Region. After five decades, the Canso Causeway has become more than a transportation link made of rock and pavement - it is a symbol of the region’s pride, perseverance and people. It has become an emotional link reflected in the community’s culture and music. A landmark which has inspired several generations of musicians was certainly deserving of an extraordinary anniversary celebration this past summer.

Indeed, the sights and sounds of the 50th Anniversary of the Canso Causeway will be etched in the minds and memories of thousands of spectators for years to come. Much like the stories surrounding the official opening in 1955, the questions and comments in music circles throughout Atlantic Canada will be, “Remember Bruce Guthro’s performance in the Causeway’s 50th Anniversary Gala Concert?”, or “The Cottars were just teenagers when the Causeway turned 50.” or “Did you see Buddy MacMaster playing while wearing the conductor cap during the Causeway Ceilidh?”, or “Wasn’t that young fiddler’s first performance at the lunchtime concert series during the Causeway’s 50th Anniversary?” or “I can still hear those pipes coming across the Causeway.”

On August 13, 2005 nearly 17,000 people gathered along the shores of the Canso Causeway to witness an amazing musical spectacle which graced television screens, radio stations, websites and newspapers across the country; over 400 pipers and drummers from Atlantic Canada, Ontario, British Columbia, New England and beyond marched across the Canso Causeway to mark the anniversary of this emotional and symbolic landmark. Amazingly, over 100 of these pipers and drummers participated in the original opening ceremony in 1955. Proudly they travelled great distances to relive that moment in time fifty years ago.

This momentous musical march was just one of many entertainment features held throughout the week-long anniversary event. Through song contests, recordings, concerts, ceilidhs, tune composition competitions, media exposure, and much more, the 50th Anniversary of the Canso Causeway turned the spotlight on Atlantic Canadian entertainment and highlighted the inspiration that comes from historical and cultural landmarks like the Causeway.

The anniversary event ran from August 7-14, 2005 and featured 20 performances by hundreds of Atlantic Canadian artists - not to mention projects prior to the event which promoted rising artists and encouraged creation of new works related to the cultural and societal impact of the Canso Causeway. For the past fifty years, the Canso Causeway has been colourfully recreated in songs, poems, literature, artwork and instrumental compositions. The 50th anniversary of this famed span seemed like an appropriate occasion to recognized it’s significance impact on the region’s cultural fabric and musical heritage.

The following submission will outline the scope of the anniversary event and how its programming, marketing, venues, merchandise, communications, legacy and overall public awareness contributed to the promotion of East Coast Music and its musicians.


Canso Causeway 50th Anniversary

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