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Origins of Victoria Day

In 1841, the parliaments of Upper and Lower Canada were replaced by a single legislative assembly for the Province of Canada. The new assembly sought opportunities to create common ground between English and French Canadians that would transcend religious and cultural differences. A public holiday honouring the young Queen Victoria’s birthday, 24 May, was an idea that appealed to both English and French Canadians. At the time, loyalty to the Crown was a key cultural trait that distinguished Canadians from Americans and the monarch (the king or queen) was considered a guarantor of minority rights in the united province. In 1845, the legislative assembly of the Province of Canada declared the Queen’s birthday an official public holiday, transforming the monarch’s birthday from an exclusively military occasion to a civilian holiday.

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