What is Victoria Day?

Victoria Day is often celebrated in Canada by fireworks.
Victoria Day is often celebrated in Canada by fireworks.

Victoria Day is an official national holiday in Canada which is celebrated annually on the first Monday prior to May 25. The holiday is observed all over the country except New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. In 2002, the holiday was officially renamed and is now known as Journee nationale des Patriotes (National Patriots Day). As its name suggests, the holiday is held in honor of Queen Victoria. The country has been carrying out the tradition of observing holidays in honor of the British royal family.

Origin Of Victoria Day

Victoria Day has been celebrated since the year 1845, 22 years before the Confederation of Canada. It was originally known as the Queen's Birthday until the Queen's death in 1901, when it grew to become known as Victoria Day. Canada is the only country that commemorates Queen Victoria with an official holiday. Some cities hold parades in honour of Queen Victoria, most notably in the town of Victoria, British Columbia. Victoria Day serves twofold of a mark of the unofficial end of the season for winter activities across Canada.

Tragedies Associated With Victoria Day

Victoria Day of 1881 was noted for a tragic event which happened during the festivities. A boat, ironically named Victoria, sunk near the city of London, Ontario killing 182 passengers on board. The tragedy was caused by overloading of the boat which carried 650 passengers against a structural capacity of 400 passengers. Eyewitnesses claimed that the passengers had crowded on one side of the boat to watch a rowing race near Cove Bridge and their weight caused the boat to capsize. The tragedy is one of the worst marine tragedies in Canadian history.

On the Victoria Day of 1896, a bridge in Victoria, British Columbia collapsed when an overloaded streetcar crossed it that was carrying prospective spectators to the Victoria Day parade.

Recent Alterations In Dates

Initially, the holiday was held on May 24th of each year but was pushed to the 25th if the 24th fell on a Sunday. However, in 1952 the Canadian government decided to have Victoria Day to be held exclusively on a Monday meaning that if the May 24th fell on a different day, the holiday would be held on a Monday immediately preceding the date. Currently, Victoria Day is held with pomp and color, and this is best seen in the town of Victoria in the province of British Columbia. Schools, post offices, government offices and many businesses are closed.


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