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Why do Canadians observe Victoria Day?

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Canadians observe Victoria Day on May 24th or on the preceding Monday. This holiday is named after Queen Victoria (24 May 1819 - 22 January 1901), the British monarch who gave royal assent to Canadian Confederation in 1867 and reigned over Great Britain and the British dominions from ascending the throne in 1837 and ruled until her death her death in 1901 (a period of over 63 years). The Parliament of Canada first declared her birthday a holiday in 1845 and after her death in 1901, the holiday officially became known as Victoria Day in remembrance of the late monarch who was often credited with helping to unite the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia into a Canadian nation, the Dominion of Canada. Since that time, Victoria Day has commemorated two royal birthdays: the birthday of Queen Victoria and that of the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. This holiday celebrates not only celebrates the 'Mother of Confederation' but also encourages people to celebrate the past along with present. May 24th is a statutory holiday in all Canadian territories and in seven out of ten provinces. Shown is a photograph of the Queen Victoria Memorial Fountain located in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia and is the city's earliest monument. This granite and bronze memorial by English-born Canadian artist and designer James Blomfield (1879 - 1951) was officially unveiled by premier Sir Richard McBride, K.C.M.G. on the Queen's birthday, 24 May 1906. Upon Queen Victoria's death, nearly 5,000 Vancouver schoolchildren sold specially printed black-edged memorial cards with information about the late monarch to raise funds for the memorial. Centered within the memorial is a commemorative plaque that includes a bas-relief of the sovereign's head at the top, a lion's head at the bottom and the following text inscribed in between "IN MEMORY OF VICTORIA THE GOOD – THIS MONUMENT IS ERECTED BY THE SCHOOL CHILDREN OF VANCOUVER 1905". Typical of drinking fountains of the day, it originally included a pair of chained bronze drinking cups.

On this day, Monday, 23 May 2022, we celebrate Victoria Day and commemorate the 203rd anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria as well as the 116th anniversary of the unveiling of the Queen Victoria Memorial Fountain in Vancouver, British Columbia.

André M. Levesque

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