In 1845, with an official declaration by the Legislature of the Province of Canada, Queen Victoria’s birthday – May 24th – was declared a holiday. After Queen Victoria’s death, in 1903, Canada declared May 24th to be Empire Day, and then later changed it to British Commonwealth Day (Henderson, 2005, p. 119). However, since 1952, Victoria Day, the last Monday before May 24, has been celebrated as a holiday (Parry, 1987, p. 140).
Although the reason we celebrate this day has changed over the years, this weekend marks the first long weekend of the summer season. So, whether you have called it Victoria Day, Empire Day, Commonwealth Day, May Two Four, the May long weekend, or are campaigning to have the name changed, to “Victoria and First Peoples Day,” this Monday, May 19th is a holiday and all Mohawk College library locations are closed but resume regular hours on Tuesday.
Want to learn more about Queen Victoria? The Westfield Heritage Village is paying tribute to her with their program, Queen Victoria – A Woman of Influence. As well, the residents of the Six Nations welcome everyone to the Bread and Cheese Festival, a celebration started by Queen Victoria.
There are fireworks, at dusk, Sunday evening in Dundas at the Driving Park, and inside the horse track at the Six Nations.
If you want more information about the other holidays we celebrate, have a look at Let’s Celebrate! Canada’s special days by Caroline Parry and Holidays, festivals, and celebrations of the world dictionary (3rd ed.), edited by Helene Henderson. Both books are located in the Cummings Library.