Monday, May 20, 2013

Queen Victoria's birthday? Let's party!

Queen Victoria's actual birthday isn't until May 24th but here in Canada we celebrate it on the nearest Monday before May 25th, so even though it's a couple of day's early this year, let's raise a glass of (insert adult beverage of choice) and salute the old girl's legacy.

Celebrating Victoria Day began in 1854 when legislation was passed to officially recognize May 24th as Queen Victoria's birthday and about 5,000 citizens of the province Canada West (this is pre-confederation, folks)  gathered together in the newly renamed city of Toronto to have a party, wave some flags and pass the beer. This tradition has continued for the past century and a half, resulting in the tongue-in-cheek nickname for the holiday as the May 2-4 weekend, 24 being the number of bottles in a large case of beer. Yes, Canadians never pass up a good excuse for a party.

But I also think a lot of colonization happened in Canada during Queen Victoria's reign, which has left a lasting impression upon the foundation of the country (some good and some very bad but I'm not going to go there). The history of many towns in Ontario, for instance, can trace their beginnings to the eighteen hundreds, the gravestones of early settlers marked in the eighteen hundreds, the architecture of the historically preserved buildings decidedly eighteen-hundreds influenced. And what century did Queen Victoria's 63 year reign occur in? That's right, the eighteen hundreds, the Victorian Era; a time of great change for Canada and the world as a whole with advancements in science giving birth to electricity, the development of wireless communication, and air travel. Things which have given rise to our modern world and without which I would not be blogging right now.

So, join me if you will, in raising a glass in honour of dearly departed Queen Victoria. She might not have smiled often in photographs, but to know she's still celebrated after all this time, well...I'm sure she would be very amused, indeed.