Victoria Day Holiday

It’s May 2-4, even though it’s only May 21, a holiday in Canada. So things will be pretty quiet here on Slaw today. Friends to the south or overseas, talk among yourselves. We’ll be back bright and early tomorrow.

Where I am — Toronto — the holiday is generally known as May 2-4, because: it was created to celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria, which was May 24th; and “a two-four” is slang for a case of 24 bottles of beer, i.e. that which often accompanies BBQ festivities on this first warm-weather (we hope) holiday in Canada. However, unlike other federal holidays (such as Canada Day), this one is pinned to a Monday, namely the last Monday before May 25.


  1. I hope everyone also remembers to wish our present Queen a happy birthday. Her actual birthday is April 21, but by a proclamation, dated January 31, 1957, today is the day fixed for its celebration in Canada.

    For better or worse, this makes for a small redundancy in the definition of "holiday" in section 35 of the Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. I-21.

  2. The same redundancy occurs in Ontario under the Legislation Act, 2006.

    Neither the federal nor the provincial statute gives us the day off, however, as distinct from enjoining us to celebration. In Ontario that more practical function is served by the Retail Business Holidays Act or the Employment Standards Act. (Neither allows the Governor General to give employees a holiday in this sense; only provincial proclamations can have that effect.)

    Interpretation legislations merely tell us what days may be meant when a statute or regulation refers to a ‘holiday’, often by way of saying that some deadline for an official action is extended for a day past the holiday.

  3. Simon, if it makes you feel any better, it is raining on the Victoria Day Parade here (Victoria) in the city named after the English Queen (I know – she’s ours too) for whom the stat holiday was named (Phew. Out of breath after that opening). Because of that … that pause … that opening in the legal cosmos … that I’m stuck “in” with a “24”, and to eke something out of the $13K it cost me to visit the Harry Potter Theme Park in Orlando (I lost the family vote), the spirit(s) moved me to share what we know about magic, witchcraft and law at Hocus Pocus Law: Mock Not What You Understand Not. Just sayin’.

  4. When I was a kid, back in the middle of the last century, the official name of the holiday was Empire Day. The unofficial name was Firecracker Day, for obvious reasons. It was less usual to do fireworks on Dominion Day, as it then was. The pyrotechnical industry has shifted its focus, or at least split it, in favour of July 1, it seems to me.