canadaflag.jpgIn Canada, the first Monday in August is generally a holiday but it is known by different names in different areas.

The idea of a holiday in the middle of summer in Toronto dates back to 1869. This day was created in 1875 and the first Monday in August became the August Civic Holiday.

Simcoe Day was named after John Graves Simcoe, who was appointed the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada in 1791. He was a British soldier during the American Revolutionary War and was appointed in 1777 to lead the Queen’s Rangers regiment. In 1781 he returned to Britain, where he was later elected to the House of Commons. He came to Canada in 1792 after his appointment. He first established his capital at Newark but, due to the threat of invasion by Americans, moved it to Toronto, which he named York. He convened the first Legislative Assembly as well as abolishing slavery. In Toronto, the day was officially named after him in 1968.

In Burlington, the holiday has been known as Joseph Brant Day since 1980. Joseph Brant was a Mohawk chief who sided with the British during the American Revolutionary War. He was born in 1742 on the banks of the Ohio River while his parents were on a hunting excursion. Brant’s sister, Molly, married Sir William Johnson, the Superintendent of the northern Indians of America.

Among others, Brant was selected to be educated at Moor’s Charity School for Indians in Connecticut. He learned to speak and write English and studied history and literature. During the French and Indian Wars he served under Sir William and later helped him to run the Indian Department. He also helped to translate the Prayer Book, the Gospel of St Mark and the Acts of the Apostles into the Mohawk language.

During the American Revolutionary War, Brant, fearing that the Indians would be worse off if America were to achieve independence, persuaded the Mohawks, Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas to support Britain. Brant received a Captain’s commission in the British Army and traveled to Britain.

In 1982 the City of Brantford declared that the holiday be called “Founders’ Day”. A different organisation is honoured on that day every year.

Since 1983 the day has been named “McLaughlin Day” in Oshawa. Colonel R. S. McLaughlin (1871 – 1972) brought General Motors to Oshawa.

In 1996 the City of Ottawa decided to honour John By (1779-1836) by calling the day Colonel John By Day. By was a British Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Engineers who supervised the building of the Rideau Canal. Ottawa was originally called Bytown after him.

Since 1998 Sarnia City Council has celebrated Alexander Mackenzie Day. Alexander Mackenzie was the second Canadian Prime Minister from 1873 to 1878.

Cobourg proclaimed the holiday as James Cockburn Day” in 1999. James Cockburn was a father of Confederation and represented the riding of Northumberland West in the Legislative Assembly of Canada, 1861-67.

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