Provincial and Territorial Holidays

Provincial and territorial holidays are holidays the provincial and territorial governments recognize in addition to the national holidays established by federal legislation.

Provincial and Territorial Holidays

Provincial and territorial holidays are holidays the provincial and territorial governments recognize in addition to the national holidays established by federal legislation. Some provincial and territorial holidays recognize historical events (eg, Discovery Day, both Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador but for different occasions) or celebrate culture (eg, Fête nationale du Québec and Heritage Day in Alberta). Others simply provide a day off for family and leisure.

The third Monday of February is a holiday to fill in the gap between New Year's Eve and Easter. It was first instituted as Family Day in 1989 in Alberta and now Saskatchewan and Ontario have also legislated this particular holiday. In Manitoba it is called Louis Riel Day and in Prince Edward Island, Islander Day. The Yukon has had a holiday in February (but on the third Friday of the month) since 1975 when the federal Liberal government tried to establish a national holiday, National Heritage Day. Wrongly assuming the legislation would be passed, the holiday was written into the union contract for territorial employees and once in, it could not be removed and many non-government employees now also enjoy the holiday. (Interestingly, an Alberta Tory member of parliament was the one dissenting vote that killed the proposed federal holiday.)

Newfoundland and Labrador celebrates the most holidays beginning with St Patrick's Day in March and the English equivalent, St George's Day, in April. Also observed is Orangemen's Day on July 12, to commemorate the Irish Protestant victory at the Battle of the Boyne (1690). (See also Orange Order.) These holidays are observed on a Monday closest to each of the actual dates.

In June, National Aboriginal Day is a statutory holiday in the Northwest Territories, when the territory honours its Dene, Métis and Inuvialuit people, and acknowledges their values, traditions, languages and cultures. Québecois and French culture is celebrated 3 days later (June 24) throughout Québec during La Fête Du Nationale. Also on [the closest Monday to] June 24, most of Newfoundland and Labrador celebrates Discovery Day, commemorating the date that John Cabot made landfall in North America. The capital, St. John's, is the exception; it uses the feast day of St John the Baptist as a birthday celebration.

Newfoundland and Labrador's one statutory provincial holiday is on July 1, the same day as the national holiday, Canada Day. Memorial Day honours the Newfoundland Regiment that was decimated on the first day of the Battle of the Somme (1916). Canada's newest territory marks its anniversary, Nunavut Day, on July 9, the day in 1993 when its land claim agreement and the Nunavut Act received royal assent.

Most provinces and territories, except Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador, have a mid summer holiday on the first Sunday of August. The holiday differs between jurisdictions. In some it is a municipal holiday while in others it is called the Civic Holiday but in actuality it is a statutory provincial or territorial holiday. The day is the provincial birthday party of Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and British Columbia while in Alberta it marks the province's diversity with Heritage Day.

The last provincial or territorial holiday celebrated in the year is Yukon's Discovery Day commemorating the anniversary of the discovery of gold on 16 August 1896 on Rabbit Creek (now Bonanza Creek) that led to the Klondike Gold Rush and celebrated on the third Monday of August.