Did you know this Monday, August 4, 2008 is a holiday here in Canada? We’ll be out of the office for the day, returning Tuesday.
I honestly had no idea! It’s a good thing somebody asked me to write this post, otherwise I’d have been one lonely little support guy come Monday afternoon. Now instead I’m all excited — my Mom and I are going to ride roller coasters all day.
I figured I should at least find out who to thank for this wonderful little reprieve from my daily existence. It turns out the Civic Holiday originated right here in Toronto, and is locally known as Simcoe Day:
John Graves Simcoe was more than just a colonial governor — he abolished slavery, created Yonge Street, and even inspired the agricultural fair tradition that would give rise to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.
In 1869 Toronto City Council came up with the idea for a summer “day of recreation.” In 1875, it was settled: the first Monday in August would be the official Civic Holiday.
That name stuck as other cities followed Toronto’s leisure-loving example and proclaimed this a municipal (rather than provincial) holiday. But in 1968 Toronto City Council again took the lead and renamed the day to recognize one of Ontario’s earliest historical figures.
I contacted the local historical society, and luckily they were able to dig up this ultra-rare photograph of Colonel John catching some rays at world-famous Wasaga Beach, the longest freshwater beach in the world.
So there you have it. The next time I wonder what city council has ever done for me, I have my answer.
To our fellow Canadians, enjoy your long weekend responsibly; and we’ll see everybody Tuesday!