OTD: National Arts Centre hosts inaugural festival

On today’s date in 1969, the opening night gala of the National Arts Centre included a performance by the country’s largest ballet company, the National Ballet of Canada.

The National Arts Centre was one of many projects launched by the government of prime minister Lester B. Pearson in commemoration of Canada’s centennial in 1967. It opened on June 2, 1969, with total costs nearing $46 million.

“After a weekend of splendid weather, the opening night was rainy and windswept,” reads a 2009 book by Sarah Jennings, Art and Politics: The History of the National Arts Centre. “The mood, however, was exuberant. Time, America’s most popular news magazine and the sponsor of the night’s live CBC English-network broadcast, declared: ‘Not since Expo 67’s shimmering debut has an opening night stirred such an exhilarating sense of grand occasion.'”


In 2001, the Royal Canadian Mint struck a silver dollar to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Ballet of Canada.

With a face value of $1, the Proof silver coin has a weight of 25.18 grams; a diameter of 36.07 millimetres; and a mintage of 89,390 pieces.

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