Who was Victoria and why do we celebrate her day?

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Victoria Day:

Everyone looks forward to Victoria Day. It is an official holiday. Some call it May long weekend, May Two-Four or May Long. It is always on the Monday before May 24th each year and honours Queen Victoria. She was born on May 24, 1819.


Who was Queen Victoria?

Queen Victoria used to be the longest reigning British monarch in history. She ruled for 63 years and 216 days until her death in 1901. The current queen, Queen Elizabeth II, is now the longest reigning monarch.

Queen Victoria became queen in 1837 when she was 18 years old. Her reign was a period of great development in Great Britain’s industry, science and economy. Railways, bridges and power distribution networks were built and the empire expanded. It included Canada, Australia, India and parts of Africa and the South Pacific. This period is called the Victorian era. She became the symbol of the progress and philosophy of the time.


What is Victoria Day?

Victoria Day was declared a holiday in 1845 by the parliament of the Province of Canada. It became a legal holiday after Queen Victoria’s death in 1901. It used to be celebrated on May 24th every year (or on the 25th if it’s a Sunday). In 1952, the government changed it to the Monday before May 24th.

Victoria Day is a holiday in most of Canada. However, the Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador do not observe it. Meanwhile,they celebrate Journée nationale des patriotes (National Patriots’ Day) in Quebec. England does not observe this holiday. It is celebrated only in Canada and Scotland.


How do Canadians celebrate Victoria Day?

It used to be a day for picnics, parades, sporting tournaments, fireworks and cannon salutes. Some parts of Canada still have big celebrations like in Victoria, British Columbia (named after Queen Victoria) where they have grand parades. Meanwhile, there are grand fireworks displays in Hamilton and Toronto.

Victoria day is also the unofficial start of summer. Cottages and campsites are expected to be full because many to go to their cottages on the weekend. Others go camping with family and friends. Amusement parks and other outdoor attractions also open on this day. But with the ongoing pandemic, these activities are expected to change. Check the Province of Manitoba site for advisories to know if it’s safe to travel and what public health measures to observe.


What’s open and closed on Victoria Day?

Check online to see what’s open and closed on Victoria Day weekend. Call 311 or go to the 311 City Services website for more information on city services.
 
Article updated May 14, 2020.

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