In photos: a 50-year retrospective of Toronto Caribbean Carnival

1967

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, including the Caribbean and West Indian diaspora, were invited by the province to stage a cultural event, as a tribute to the diverse communities that comprise Canada.

“Caribana” (the name, says founding member Maurice Bygrave, is a hybrid 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. 


The members of the Caribean and West Indian community who formed the Caribbean Centennial Committee (pictured below), a non-profit later to be known as the Caribbean Cultural Committee (CCC), included doctors, lawyers and engineers. Among them were Joseph “Alban” Liverpool (chair), Archibald 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.  


“We produced Caribana to commemorate Expo 67, Canada’s 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 2015 interview. 


1968

Caribana was so successful that members of the CCC organized to put the fest on again the following year. Caribana ’68 included a pageant to crown Miss Caribana, a series of shows at the Toronto Islands, and a grand ball at the Royal York Hotel. 


Caribana was established as more than just a parade. It comprises three distinct art forms: steelpan, calypso and the mas (masquerade) parade of costumes, music and dance. It was at the…

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