What Is Victoria Day?

Although today we have come to associate it with long weekends and barbecues, Victoria Day has been observed in Canada since 1845 as a way to honour the birthday of Queen Victoria, who was born on May 24th 1819. The holiday continues to be marked in various ways across Canada, and the observance of Victoria Day in this particular way has always been a distinctly Canadian tradition.

Queen Victoria ruled for 63 years and seven months, longer than that of any of her predecessors, and this period is known as the Victorian Era. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. Following the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, May 24 was made by law to be known as Victoria Day, a date to remember the late queen, who was deemed the "Mother of Confederation”.

Queen Victoria earned that name because of her close connection to the birth of a unified Canadian state. Before Confederation came about the Queen actively supported it. “I believe it will make [the provinces] great and prosperous”, she told Sir Charles Tupper, one of the principal fathers of Confederation.

It was on 1st July 1867 that Queen Victoria proclaimed the Confederation of the first four provinces of Canada and summoned the first members of the Senate of the new Dominion. To underline the inseparable bond between Crown and Confederation, Sir John Alexander Macdonald, first Prime Minister of the new Canada, whom Queen Victoria received in audience on the eve of the great event, told her that the purpose of Confederation was “to declare in the most solemn and emphatic manner our resolve to be under the sovereignty of Your Majesty and your family forever”. Loyalty to the Crown was the keystone of Confederation, the only common bond that could overcome the strong sectional character and feelings of the provinces. Even the ship that carried the delegates from the Province of Canada to Prince Edward Island for the 1864 Charlottetown Conference that led to Confederation was named the Queen Victoria.

The Victorian Era was a long period of peace, prosperity, "refined sensibilities" and national self-confidence for the United Kingdom. Culturally there was a transition away from the rationalism of the Georgian period and toward romanticism and mysticism with regard to religion, social values, and arts. Gothic Revival architecture became increasingly significant during the period, leading to the Battle of the Styles between Gothic and Classical ideals. It was during the Victorian Era that tea became very popular. In fact, it became so widely liked that ale was displaced as the most favourite of all beverages and tea reigned supreme. The drinking of tea led to the birth of a thing beyond a mere habit or addiction. It became a culture. It was during this time that the term “High Tea” was born.

Happy Victoria Day, and for more information please visit: http://crht.ca/queen-victoria-mother-of-confederation/