Victoria Day for many of us is the first official weekend of camping season and an unofficial start to summer-our tents and trailers are prepped for their next seasonal shift, our gardens are cleaned and flowers planted. Naturally, all Canadians welcome this holiday mentally with open arms, and in truth, how can we not?! However, given that today is the actual holiday Monday, it's a good time as any to understand the reason for this day off.
Queen Victoria was the second longest reigning monarch of the UK, with her time on the throne being just recently surpassed by our current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Victoria reigned from the tender age of 18 in 1837 to 1901 and only became Queen after her father's three brothers died, all of whom passed without leaving any surviving legitimate children. She married her first-cousin, Prince Albert, with whom she had nine children. They shared a very close relationship and his passing in the middle of her reign in 1861 plunged her into deep mourning from which she never recovered. She loved to write and rumor has it she wrote around 2500 words a day in her journals, leaving behind 122 volumes of her daily life.
Her birthday is May 24th and hence on Victoria Day, we are essentially celebrating her birth. This event was celebrated here in Canada since 1845 and therefore long before Confederation, but it became law in 1901 that the Monday before the 24th of May must be celebrated in her name. Though she was not a large woman (she was only 4ft and 11 inches tall), her legacy speaks volumes and she is remembered as being a Queen who restored the reputation of the monarchy and also reconnected the monarchy with the public through their civic duties which are still very strong and present today. Throughout Canada she is celebrated with parades and fireworks, especially in Victoria, BC, her namesake city. Interestingly enough, Queen Victoria's sixth child, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, is the namesake of our province. Originally there were plans to call our province Louise, however to honor both her daughter and her deceased husband, the name Alberta was instituted. (However, should you find yourself at Lake Lousie today, raise a glass in her name!)
Wishing you all a fantastic kick off to your summers, as well as a fun day with your family and friends!