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Is it just another long weekend or is it a historic celebration?


Most of us today look at the May 24 weekend as the official start of the summer, but do you know the history behind the holiday?


Victoria Day is a federal Canadian public holiday celebrated on the last Monday before May 25 in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday. The holiday has been observed in Canada since 1845. It originally fell on the Queens actual birthday, May 24. Canada is the only country that honours Queen Victoria with an official holiday.


Twice in history the holiday was marred by tragedy.  The first occurred in 1881, the passenger ferry Victoria set sail along the Thames River, near London, Ontario and overturned with apparently 800 people on board. Approximately 182 people drowned, including children who had been with their families for Victoria Day picnics at Springbank Park. The second incident happened on May 26, 1896, in Victoria, BC the Point Ellice Bridge collapsed under the weight of a streetcar overloaded with passengers on their way to attend Victoria Day celebrations. The most interesting part of both of these incidents is that they occurred on a vessel and in the city named after Queen Victoria.


To mark the occasion today, royal gun salutes are fired in each provincial capital and in the national capital at noon on Victoria Day. Some cities hold parades - the largest being in the monarch’s namesake city of Victoria, BC, where it’s taken place every year since 1898. Many municipalities and individuals hold their own fireworks displays to celebrate the holiday.


Victoria Day is colloquially known in Canada as May Two-Four, a double entendre that refers both to the date around which the holiday falls and Canadian slang for a case of 24 beers.


As May 24 approaches please remember to have a safe and happy holiday. As a reminder REM web solutions will be closed on Monday May 23, 2016 to celebrate Victoria Day with our families.


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