In celebration of Canada’s centennial year, plans for a commemorative International and Universal Exposition (or Expo ’67) were underway. Members of various ethnic groups, includingÂ the Caribbean and West Indian diaspora, were invitedÂ by the province to stage aÂ cultural event, as a tribute to the diverse communities that comprise Canada.
“Caribana” (the name, says founding member Maurice Bygrave, is a hybridÂ of Caribbean and bacchanal) was the one-time event produced by the West Indian community who drew inspiration from Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival celebrations in their home country.Â
The members of the Caribean and West Indian community who formed the Caribbean Centennial Committee (pictured below), a non-profitÂ later to be known as the Caribbean Cultural CommitteeÂ (CCC), included doctors, lawyers and engineers. Among them wereÂ Joseph “Alban” Liverpool (chair), ArchibaldÂ Bastien (deputy chair), Leslie Forbes, Peter Marcelline, Maurice Bygrave, Monica Pollard, Rita Cox, Romain Pitt, Charles Roach, Elmore Daisy, Sam Cole, Alpha Walter King, Fred Cole, Jeff Henry, Russell Charter, Joan Alexander, Melbourne Thompson and Eric Lindsay. Â
“We produced Caribana to commemorate Expo 67, Canadaâs 100th birthday celebration, and we started the festival to show the different Caribbean islands and their camaraderie. We had people from Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados, St. Vincent working on it,” recalled founding member Maurice Bygrave in a 2015Â interview.Â
Caribana was so successful that members of the CCC organizedÂ to putÂ the fest on again the following year. Caribana ’68 included aÂ pageant to crown Miss Caribana, a series of shows at the Toronto Islands, and a grand ball at the Royal York Hotel.Â
Caribana was established as more than just a parade. It comprises three distinct art forms: steelpan, calypso and theÂ masÂ (masquerade) parade of costumes, music and dance.Â It was at the…