The first Monday in August is holiday in most of the Provinces and Territories. What you will often find, however, is that its name changes from province to province, and even amongst different regions within a province. On calendars, it is generally labeled as “Civic Holiday” as not to be region specific. No matter what it is called, it is a much needed long weekend to augment the short Canadian summers. Read on to find out what it is called in your part of the country and some history around its origin.|
Ontario - Simcoe DayThe first Monday in August is a holiday all across Ontario. But the holiday is called different things in different areas.
In fact, the first Monday in August is a municipal holiday*. The Civic Holiday is not designated as an official statutory holiday by provincial legislation**. In the past few years, a number of private member's bills have been introduced in the Ontario Legislature attempting to make it official, but none has passed to date.
The concept of a midsummer holiday in Toronto dates as far back as 1869. In Toronto today, the holiday is celebrated as “Simcoe Day”, but according to recent studies, only 16% of the population actually knows that. While other Ontario municipalities have chosen to honour a significant local person or organization to help focus the celebration (see a selection in the chronology below), in most municipalities the day is referred to as the “August Civic Holiday”.
The table below presents a selection of events in the history of the August Civic Holiday in Ontario.
1869 - Toronto City Council originated a midsummer holiday for a "day of recreation".
1871 - A Bank Holiday was established by the House of Commons in England. Sir John Lubbock declared that Toronto in Canada had found an August holiday "advisable and satisfactory."
1875 - Perhaps after the precedent set by Sir John Lubbock, Toronto City Council fixed the first Monday in August as a Civic Holiday.
1968 - Toronto City Council officially called the civic holiday “Simcoe Day” after Major-General John Graves Simcoe, who was appointed the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada on September 12th, 1791. He convened the first Legislative Assembly and established York (now Toronto) as the capital of the province. One of his crowning achievements was to begin the phasing out of slavery in Upper Canada, which officially ended in 1810 – 23 years before it was abolished in the British Empire and 55 years before the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States.
1980 - Burlington celebrates the holiday as "Joseph Brant Day." Joseph Brant was a Mohawk Chief who became known for his treaty negotiations and loyalty to the British.
1982 - The City of Brantford adopted a policy that stated that the civic holiday be named "Founders' Day". Each year, the Brantford Heritage Committee submits a report to City Council with the name or organization that is to be recognized on that day.
1983 - Oshawa City Council passed a resolution to recognize the holiday as "McLaughlin Day" in honour of the late Colonel R.S. McLaughlin, who brought General Motors to Oshawa. See Parkwood Estate and Oshawa - still motoring after 75 years.
1996 - The City of Ottawa passed a by-law proclaiming the Civic Holiday as "Colonel By Day". John By (1779-1836) was a British Lieutenant-Colonel and military engineer. His most noteworthy achievement was the building of the Rideau Canal and Bytown (now Ottawa) was named after him.
1998 - Sarnia City Council passed a resolution declaring the holiday "Alexander Mackenzie Day". The Honourable Alexander Mackenzie was Canada's second Prime Minister from 1873-1878.
1999 - The Town of Cobourg proclaimed the holiday as "James Cockburn Day". James Cockburn was a father of Confederation and represented the riding of Northumberland West in the Legislative Assembly of Canada, 1861-67.
2006 - Guelph City Council passed a by-law proclaiming the holiday as "John Galt Day" in honour of its founder, Scottish novelist and businessman, who founded the City of Guelph on April 23, 1827 when he was superintendant of the Canada Company.
2008 - The Ontario Legislature passes a law identifying August 1st of each year as "Emancipation Day" as the British Parliament abolished slavery in the British Empire as of August 1, 1834. It still does not make it an official holiday, and (as of 2011) most Ontarians continue to call the first Monday in August as the "Civic Holiday".
* The Municipal Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chap. M.45, s. 214(8) provides that municipal councils can make by-laws proclaiming a civic holiday and requiring the closing of shops on such a day.
** The Interpretation Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chap. I.11, s.29 (1) does not include the August "Civic Holiday" in its designation of official public holidays that apply to everyone; nor do the Retail Business Holidays Act or the Employment Standards Act include it in their definition sections. However, the holiday is mentioned in a number of Ontario statutes within the context of giving time off for specific types of employees or of regulating business hours, etc.
From the Ontario Ministry of Labour: Indeed, the first Monday in August is not an official holiday.
QuebecThere is no holiday on the first Monday in August in Quebec.
Nova Scotia - Natal DayA holiday of celebration of the origins and birth of the particular province and it is normally a family oriented holiday with parades and fireworks and public displays.
Both the form natalis and natalicium were used by the Romans to denote what we call a birthday, i.e., the anniversary of the day when a man was born. Also the Greek words genesia and genethlios were similarly employed. But in both Greek and Latin a certain extension of this primitive use seems to have taken place even in pre-Christian times. In Latin natalis apparently came, at least sometimes, to mean little more than "anniversary", and it was used of the accession day of the emperor as well as of his birthday. Moreover we know that the games celebrated on an emperor's birthday during his life, were often continued after his death upon the anniversary of his birthday as if he were still living.
From the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment and Labour: The first Monday in August is not an official holiday according to the Labour Standards Code.
New Brunswick - New Brunswick DayNew Brunswick Day is a special day when New Brunswickers get together to celebrate the pride they have in their community and in their province. Many activities, such as parades, local performers, and community parties, will be taking place around the province to help celebrate this day.
From the New Brunswick Department of Training and Employment Development: The first Monday in August is a statutory holiday as designated in the Employment Standards Act.
Manitoba - Civic HolidayThe first civic holiday in Manitoba was observed on September 16, 1874.
From the Manitoba Department of Labour and Immigration: Although it is commonly given to employees as a holiday, the first Monday in August is not a statutory holiday.
British Columbia - British Columbia DayBritish Columbia Day is a civic holiday intended for all residents and workers to relax and enjoy the beauty and culture offered within this most spectacular province. It might be shared with family or friends or privately in solitude, but it should be a reflection of the gift of natural wonder that the province has been blessed with.
From the British Columbia Ministry of Skills Development and Labour: The first Monday in August is a statutory holiday as designated in the British Columbia Day Act.
Prince Edward Island - Natal DayThe Natal Day on the 1st Monday in August is not an official holiday but is often given by employers.
In Charlottetown and east, government employees and a scattered few in the private sector get a holiday on Gold Cup and Saucer parade day instead of the 1st Monday in August. Gold Cup and Saucer is a major harness race held in the capital each year.
In the Summerside area government employees, and again a few within the private sector, get a holiday on Lobster Carnival parade day.
West of Summerside the August holiday falls on the first Monday of August, i.e. the normal Civic holiday.
Saskatchewan - Saskatchewan DaySaskatchewan Day is the 1st Monday in August, in line with the Civic holiday and is a statutory holiday.
From the Saskatchewan Ministry of Labour: Indeed, the first Monday in August is a statutory holiday as designated in the Labour Standards Act.
Alberta - Heritage DayThis is a day that all Canadian's celebrate the attachment to their dynamic history, take pride through knowledge, and enable understanding through the appreciation of the rich and diverse cultures who have built our country. It is when our maturity may be recognized in a nation, when we take thought of our past and give thanks for the opportunity to live and grow in this wonderful land of ours.
Throughout the day we highlighted entertainers including a variety of local musicians, singers, and dancers. Ethnic food booths allow visitors the opportunity to taste foods from around the world.
Children can participate in a multitude of games, win prizes and just have an all around good time.
This day helps to increase community awareness of our heritage and let us have a great time in the process. This event is made possible and with thanks to many dedicated volunteers who work countless hours to make this day possible.
From the Alberta Department of Human Resources and Employment: The first Monday in August is not an official holiday.
Newfoundland and LabradorThere is no holiday on the first Monday in August in Newfoundland and Labrador although there is Regatta Day, often held on the first Wednesday in August.
From the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Labour: Indeed, the first Monday in August is not an official holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Northwest Territories - Civic HolidayThe first Monday in August is a statutory holiday as designated in the Labour Standards Act.
Yukon TerritoryThere is no holiday on the first Monday in August in Yukon Territory although there is Discovery Day on the third Monday of August.
Nunavut - Civic HolidayThe first Monday in August is a statutory holiday as designated in the Labour Standards Act.