Origins of the May Long Weekend

Posted on
Image shows clothesline with a card reading Happy Victoria Day and a red and white heart with a red maple leaf in the centre pinned to it.

This weekend, we celebrate Victoria Day – or what is more commonly known as simply “the May Long Weekend”. No matter what you call it, this weekend marks the unofficial start of summer and is typically filled with camping, socializing, and fun.

Though this kick-off to summer is going to look different than in years past, we can look forward to a time when things will return to some form of ‘normal’. We can also look way back into our past to remind ourselves of why we celebrate this long weekend to begin with.

I don’t claim to be a historian, but the very brief, non-expert version of the story is this: Prior to Confederation, the Province of Canada (which would become Ontario and Quebec after Confederation), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were all considered British Colonies and were ruled by Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria was born on May 24, 1819. Since 1845, her birth has been celebrated in the British Colonies – and now Canada – in the second-to-last weekend of the month. As members of the British Commonwealth, we have continued this tradition. If you’re celebrating Victoria Day this weekend, in an appropriate, socially distanced way, of course – perhaps raise a toast to the Queen.

Interested in a more in-depth (and undoubtedly more accurate) look at Canada’s history? College of the Rockies offers several History courses throughout the year, including HIST-201: Pre-Confederation Canada and HIST 208: Canadian-American Relations for Fall 2020. Learn more online with AccessCOTR.

Over the age of 60? University Arts and Science courses, including History courses, are available tuition-free to seniors (subject to availability). Contact Enrolment Services by email at reghelp@cotr.bc.ca for details.