There are a few things that define us as Canadians. Yes, we are supposed to be polite. (We usually are). Yes, we like hockey (oh yeah baby, we really do). Some of us eat maple syrup (but not all of us). Most of us punctuate our statements with an “eh” at the end. For the most part we look for middle ground solutions—not too extreme one way, not too extreme the other way. Nicely balanced.
But there is something extreme for the average Canadian and their “long weekend”. We revel in the May long weekend because it signals the start of summer. The July long weekend is the height of summer. The August long weekend is a minor version of the July long weekend–still lots of summer left to celebrate. And the September long weekend is all about finishing up the summer. Funny, four long weekends in a row, each with their historical significance, but really we just care that they are “long weekends”. Friday night, all day Saturday, all day Sunday, and even most of Monday. Boy, it doesn’t get any better than that.
This weekend is the “Victoria Day” long weekend.
She was born May 24, 1819 and died January 22, 1901. She served as Queen of Great Britain for 63 years and seven months which makes her the longest serving female monarch in history. She wasn’t “flashy” but she was “weighty”. Historians refer to her time of monarchy as the “Victorian Era”. She influenced things not only in Great Britain but literally throughout the British Empire. (Canada was part of her monarchy). The British Empire expanded hugely under her reign…militarily, economically, geographically, and culturally. When she died in 1901 it was a totally different time from when ascended the throne.
We have been celebrating her birthday in some form or fashion since 1866. It’s a Canadian law that the Monday before May 25 is set aside to honour her legacy to us and in us. Frankly, it’s more about “to us” than “in us”. At one time Canada had a huge preponderance of British immigrants. Today, that number is still strong but the per centage is mediated by significant immigration from other parts of the world. Even our British heritage citizens scarcely remember “the Mother of Confederation”.
What we do remember is that we get a long weekend in May. If pressed, we can probably remember that it’s the Queen’s birthday. I think most of us would struggle to remember which Queen in particular.
Anyway, from all of us here in Canada, thanks for the long weekend Queen Victoria.