Canadians, much like their American and other counterparts, look forward to a steady stream of holidays every year. Using Ontario as a sample province, starting with New Year’s Day, we live for Family Day in February, the coldest of winter months, look forward to Good Friday (the date of which, as we know, changes every year), then pine away for the “May Two-Four” weekend; more popularly known as Victoria Day weekend. Following Victoria Day, we fill-in the time until Canada Day comes along, and then, for most Ontarians and residents of several other provinces, enjoy as a holiday the first Monday in August. Simcoe Day is quite a regional name for the Civic holiday – pretty much relegated to Toronto, per a proclamation in 1969 – but nevertheless we relish knowing we’ll have another long weekend!
Each province that celebrates the Civic Holiday –also known as Provincial Day by some, and simply the August Long Weekend by others– knows it by a different name:
- Civic Holiday. Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island. It is not a statuary holiday in Manitoba.
- British Columbia Day, New Brunswick Day, and Saskatchewan Day in their respective provinces.
- Natal Day. In Nova Scotia, though it’s not a statuary holiday there.
- Heritage Day. Alberta only, though this has been somewhat supplanted by Family Day nationwide.
Not to leave anyone out of the mix, here’s information about our remaining provinces:
- Discovery Day. Held in Yukon, on the third Monday in August. Sometimes called Klondike Gold Discovery Day.
- Royal St. John’s Regatta (or just Regatta Day). Held in Newfoundland, on the first Wednesday in August.
- Quebec and Labrador do not generally observe Provincial Day. While much of Ontario celebrates this day, it has not officially been declared a statuary holiday by the Province.
Lots of familiar-sounding activities happen on what is for most the first weekend in August.
Whatever province or territory you’re located in, if you live in or near a large city, you’re probably headed away from it! Many people make an even longer weekend of it by taking all or half of the Friday before off. Many businesses aren’t open on this day, and most schools aren’t either. John Graves Simcoe (Ontario’s first Lieutenant Governor) founded the town of “York”, which was later to become Toronto, and in lieu of this history Torontonians can enjoy many different events. For example, there are celebrations at Fort York, Gibson House, Todmorden Mills, and at many other locations. The Fort York event is always interesting in that there are dance demonstrations, walking tours, and more. Also, ‘Mr. Simcoe’ himself usually shows up at various locations, in full period dress. In British Columbia, schools and many businesses are closed as in other provinces, and city dwellers often take in hiking, sight-seeing, camping and other activities in the beautiful interior of the province. In Nova Scotia (and this is sometimes said to be true in Prince Edward Island), Natal Day is really about the birth of a province. Birthday cakes are prepared and served, there are parades, special breakfasts, fireworks in some places, and much more. In fact, this is more a week-long celebration, and large centres like Halifax really put forth a great effort and have lots of fun.