For many people, the Victoria Day long weekend marks the end of the winter and the unofficial start of the spring or summer season. This weekend is also a marker for gardeners to be reasonably sure there will be no more frost until the autumn so they can sow or plant out delicate crops and plants. However, since our weather patterns have changed, people have already begun spring planting.

It is also a time for barbeques, family gatherings, fireworks and festive outings planned in many towns and cities. Several stores are closed in many Canadian provinces and territories. Post offices across Canada are closed. Public transport services may run to a normal or reduced timetable.

Queen Victoria was born on May 24,1819 and became Queen of the United Kingdom on June 20, 1837, reigning until her death on January 22, 1901 (63 1/2 years). The monarch’s birthday has been celebrated in Canada since before the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign. After her death, in 1901, May 25th became known as Empire Day. The sovereign’s official birthday was still celebrated, on the King’s or Queen’s actual birthday. In 1952, Empire Day was moved to the Monday before May 25 and since 1953, the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II has been celebrated on this date in Canada. The Monday before May 25 then became known as Victoria Day, which is a Canadian statutory holiday.

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