George Taylor was still basking in the memories of a beautiful summer day’s performance by his native dance troupe in front of thousands of Canada Day celebrants outside the legislature, when told of the alleged plot to explode pressure cooker bombs during festivities.
The news shook him to the core. “Oh, my God,” Mr. Taylor gasped. “I can’t imagine anyone trying to do a thing like that, especially on a day that was so perfect in every way. It’s really scary. It freaks me out, thinking we were right there.”
The Le-La-La Dancers, from the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation on northern Vancouver Island, performed early in the afternoon, said Mr. Taylor, who founded the group 26 years ago.
“Everyone was so happy. There was pleasure in the air. There was spirit in the air,” he said. “You don’t ever expect that to happen in your beautiful British Columbia.”
Mr. Taylor said he was just thankful the plotter’s planned carnage had been averted. “Or you could have been writing a different story,” he observed to a reporter.
Kathryn Calder, a solo performer and a lead singer of the popular indie group, the New Pornographers, was another featured act during the day, and she too was unsettled by the RCMP’s disclosure of the pressure cooker plot.
“You don’t want to start panicking or freak people out, but I was quite upset when I heard,” said Ms. Calder, a native of Victoria. “The fact that it was my hometown, all my friends and family were there, kids were running around. … People were having a fabulous time. I’m just so grateful that everyone was safe.”
She said the news colours what had otherwise been a memorable event. “Now, it’s just unfortunate. There’s already so much death and destruction in the world. You don’t want anything to add it.”
Ms. Calder said it was particularly distressing that the alleged plotters were said to have purposely placed their bombs to go off at “a fun event” when they would impact the most people. “In hindsight, it’s quite frightening.”
Others who were part of the legislature’s exuberant Canada Day celebrations, however, were more sanguine about the thwarted attack.
Cherie Kidd, mayor of Port Angeles, Wash., a ferry ride away from Victoria, was there, heading a delegation of 35 local residents and business people to help celebrate Canada’s national holiday, as a way of reinforcing friendly relations between the two cities. She and her group were among several thousand attendees organized by coloured T-shirts into forming a huge “living Canadian flag.”
“We were right in the middle of the maple leaf,” she said.
Ms. Kidd said she wasn’t overly rattled by the terrorist plot. “Since nothing happened, it doesn’t shake me up one bit,” she said on Tuesday. “We had a perfectly wonderful day. The whole environment was so welcoming. “bviously, one doesn’t associate terrorism with a picture-perfect, beautiful city like Victoria, but the security people did what they are supposed to do. They kept us safe.”
Asked whether the plot, depicted by the RCMP as one designed to injure and maim, might cause her to reconsider visiting Victoria again, Ms. Kidd responded: “Absolutely not, eh.”
Later in the evening, thousands gathered around Victoria’s Inner Harbour for a spectacular display of fireworks.