The August Civic Holiday


The first Monday in August is, for most Canadians, a holiday. This seems to come as a surprise to my American friends and family members, but here it is. The banks are closed, as are many stores and there is no mail delivery. The day is generally known as the August Civic Holiday, which makes this holiday the most pointless on the calendar, or possibly the most honest. I tend to say that it is the most honest and transparent: our forefathers decided that we needed a long weekend in August, so we declared it "just because". Besides, many people are on vacation at this time anyway, so very little work is actually lost by declaring a holiday around now.

This website has a lot of information on how the August Civic Holiday is celebrated across Canada. Except in Quebec, the Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador, which don't have a holiday on the first Monday of August (poor sods), the cities and the provinces of this country are allowed to designate this holiday however they like, honouring whomever they like, making the August Civic Holiday a (Insert Name Here) Day. Many places in Ontario call this day Simcoe Day, after Ontario's first Lieutenant Governor, John Graves Simcoe (the man who almost shot George Washington, but refused to shoot retreating soldiers in the back). Sarnia, however, calls this day Alexander Mackenzie Day, after Canada's second prime minister. Burlington celebrates Joseph Brant Day, after the Mohawk Chief that fought for the British against the Americans -- making this one of the very few holidays honouring First Nations people that I know about.

Because of this patchwork of holidays across the country, very few of these names stick, and the day is generally referred to as the August Civic Holiday. I also believe that the phrase "the August Civic Holiday" rolls off the tongue, and it sounds just so much more imposing and important than "Simcoe Day". We haven't had such an imposingly named holiday since July 1st's Dominion Day was renamed Canada Day.

Erin and I are going to celebrate this day by sleeping in (just done that, in fact), lazing about, doing a little cleaning, and possibly stepping out to write. August Civic Holiday or Simcoe Day, this is still a good day to take some time off. I think Canadians and Americans can do with more holidays.

So, what other holidays should we be celebrating, do you think? What time of year should they be placed, what should they be called and who (if anybody) should we be honouring?

blog comments powered by Disqus