victoria-day.jpgFirework displays and parades are very common to mark Victoria Day.  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 that there will be no more frost until the autumn so they can sow or plant out delicate crops and plants.

Many 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.  Following the death of 3 uncles and her father, she became Queen of the United Kingdom on June 20, 1837 and reigned until her death on January 22, 1901 (63 1/2 years).  Victoria is still the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom.  (Queen Elizabeth has reigned 59 years to date.)   During Victoria’s life, the British Empire expanded considerably.  However, her powers as Queen were reduced as the House of Commons became more important and powerful in British politics.

victoriaday.gifThe monarch’s birthday has been celebrated in Canada since before the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign. After her death, in 1901, May 25 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. In 1958, Empire Day became known as Commonwealth Day, which was moved to the second Monday in March. The Monday before May 25 then became known as Victoria Day, which is a Canadian statutory holiday.

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