In Canada, Victoria Day is a federal holiday, traditionally celebrated on the Monday preceding May 25th every year. Canadians have observed this holiday for several years before the Confederation of the Country, to celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria (born in 1819). The holiday has been celebrated in Canada since at least 1845.
People across the country continue to celebrate this day in various fashions; the holiday has a distinctly Canadian celebration. Victoria Day is a federal statutory holiday. In addition, it is a holiday in 6 of Canada’s 10 provinces and all 3 of its territories.
Canada is the only country that has declared an official holiday to commemorate Queen Victoria. According to the Federal government protocol, the Royal Union Flag should be flown at all federal government buildings from sun up until sun down -including military bases, airports, and any other Crown-owned property in the country -where physical arrangements allow (where there is a second flagpole, since the Royal Union Flag cannot displace the national flag).
Territorial or provincial government regulates most workplaces in Canada. So, while Victoria Day is the statutory holiday for federal purposes, territory or province of residence generally determines whether workers are entitled to a paid day off (except for the employees in federally regulated institutions such as banks).
The parliament of the Province of Canada declared Victoria Day a real holiday in 1845. The holiday became an official holiday after the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. Victoria Day isn’t celebrated as a holiday in England. It is mainly a Canadian holiday, though, some parts of Scotland also celebrate this holiday.
Some Victoria Day events across Canada include Upper Canada Village’s birthday party for the Queen, Scotia Bank’s Blue Nose Marathon, Victoria Day SpeedFest Weekend, Prairie Dog Great Train Robbery, Paddlefest, Kaslo May Days, and Zip and Sip at Cypress Hills.
Without further ado, let’s look some interesting facts about Victoria Day. Enjoy!
- May 24 is a very important day in Canada. Parliament passed the Statistics Act on May 24, 1918. It established the Dominion Bureau of Statistics currently known as Statistics Canada.
- On Victoria Day 1854, there was a huge gathering of nearly 5,000 Canadian residents. They came to “give a cheer” to Queen Victoria in front of Government House in Toronto.
- For many Canadians, Victoria Day marks the start of the summer season (and the end of winter), despite the fact that summer officially starts a month later. Several Canadians head to their cottages, go camping or attend or host a party.
- Victoria Day is also referred to as May Two-Four, May Long Weekend, May Long, and May Run.
- Victoria Day is observed with a 21-gun salute at the national capital city of Ottawa and in every provincial capital city.
- In 1881, a large ferry referred to as Victoria capsized in Thames River near London. The passengers were coming back from picnics at Springbank Park, and about 182 people lost their lives. For that reason, the accident became known as the Victoria Day disaster.
- For many years, Empire Day in Great Britain and Victoria Day in Canada were celebrated on the same day. Empire Day was renamed Commonwealth Day in 1958. The date remained the same until 1977 when it was moved to March.
- Many Canadians open their cottages on Victoria Day Weekend since it’s considered the start of cottage season.
- There were more than five assassinations on Queen Victoria’s life during her lifetime.
- In Quebec, Victoria Day was referred to as Fête de Dollard until 2003. Provincial legislation officially changed it to National Patriot’s Day.
- When William IV passed on, Queen Victoria became queen at the age of 18. Due to her position, she had to propose to her future husband, Albert.