History of Canada Week

History of Canada Week

Canada week has traditionally been kicked off with The Great Canadian Picnic.  In 1953, when Vic Wallace’s job at the Wallace Lumber Mill brought on acute asthma, his doctor advised him to move to a drier climate or his life would be cut short.  So Vic, his wife Reta, and their two daughters moved from Thamesford, Ontario, Canada – a small rural village 15 miles east of London – to Phoenix, Arizona.

Reta and Vic started the Canadian Social Club of Greater phoenix, bringing together newcomers who would otherwise have gone it alone. During the 1950s and 60s, it was a vital source of exchange, support and referrals for families who had relocated to the Valley.  One of the first projects the newly formed club tackled was their inaugural Canadian Picnic.  About 500 local Canadians attended the first picnic.  The Picnic has now grown to 2,500 to 3,000 visitors each year.

While the picnic was started by the Canadian Social Club, it is now supported by the Canadians In Arizona Benefiting Education & Exchanges, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  Sponsorship helps ensure the event remains free for the community to enjoy.  Proceeds from the Great Canadian Picnic support exchanges between Arizona and Canadian Cities that focus on youth and education.

From time-to-time, the city of Phoenix has recognized the importance of Canadians and the economic impact they have on the city with an official proclamation of Canada Week, the latest of which was 2016.  Also in 2016, the Governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, officially proclaimed the week to be Canada Week, as did the Mayor of Gilbert, John Lewis.

Can-Am Cup Golf Tournament has been held at the end of Canada Week for the past few years at the Papago Golf Course in Phoenix.  In 2016, the tournament was renamed, Canada Week Golf Tournament.

2015 was the first year for the Canada Week BonspielKeatsConnelly is the sponsor.