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Canada Celebrates 143 Years

An estimated 70,000 people were waving flags and cheering as they welcomed the Queen and Prince Philip to Parliament Hill to celebrated Canada Day in brilliant sunshine.

The royal couple arrived in a horse-drawn landau, complete with a mounted RCMP escort. The Queen was wearing a red suit with a maple leaf brooch, and a white hat with a big red flower.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on hand to welcome them.

The 84-year-old monarch has not been on Parliament Hill for Canada Day since 1997.

With her personal Canadian flag flying from the Peace Tower, the Queen was honoured with a 21-gun salute, an air force fly-past and a march-past by the Guard of Honour.

The Queen delivered a brief address to the Canada Day celebrants.

“During my lifetime, I have been a witness to this country for more than half its history since Confederation,” the Queen said.

“I have watched with enormous admiration how Canada has grown and matured while remaining true to its history, its distinctive character and its values.”

A loud cheer went up as she concluded her remarks saying, “God bless you all and God bless Canada.” Police estimated about 70,000 people were in the crowd.

The Queen was serenaded by Canadian artists, including Quebec pop star Isabelle Boulay, bagpipers The Campbell Brothers, The Barenaked Ladies and the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir.

Earlier Thursday, hundreds of people clad in red and white gathered at Citadel Hill, the historic fort in Halifax, to celebrate Canada Day.

The sidewalks below were packed earlier as a parade by the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo wound through downtown Halifax.

Among the crowd was Clarence Hewitt, who said the celebrations were a nice way to top off a week of festivities in Halifax, which included the Queen’s visit and an international naval fleet review.

Justine Scilipoti, a student at Dalhousie University originally from Ontario, was celebrating her first Canada Day in Halifax. She said it’s important to celebrate the fact that Canadians live “in the best country in the world.”

Plans for the Canada Day ceremony in Halifax include a flypast by aircraft from the 12 Wing Shearwater airbase, a 21-gun salute and a foot and arms drill by the 78th Highlanders.