Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Victoria Day

In some aspects, Canadians are more British in traditions than the British. Take for instance the celebrations and public holiday of Victoria Day. It all started in 1854, on 35th birthday of Queen Victoria when Canadian parliament officially recognized May 24 as the Queen's birthday. Canadian have remained steadfast on this tradition ever since (apart from the fact that it was shifted to Monday before May 25 in 1952 to mark a long weekend and Québécois renamed it to the National Patriots' Day in 2003).

In Toronto, its main event is the fireworks display on Ashbridge Bay Park at night. Display was at 10 PM but beach front was full by 8 O’clock. I have never seen such an influx of people here in Toronto before. All roads leading to Ashbridge were full to the capacity. I later came to know that people who started late were not able to reach the venue at all due to traffic jams. At beach, there was an atmosphere of great festivity. People were busy talking in groups, while children were active in playing. Police was also present in good numbers and even mounted police was on the call to prevent any breakdown in law and order. The display was colorful and worth waiting for. Unfortunately, my mobile camera was not equipped to capture it splendor in full.

It started to rain as soon as the event ended. For the first time, I witnessed a breakdown in TTC transport service. Buses were not able to reach designated points due to traffic gridlocks at intersections. Everyone has to walk in rain to seek shelter and reach buses that were trapped in traffic. Police was busy everywhere to resolve the situation and people also behaved quite reasonably with utmost patience. The air of celebration and joy continued during the whole time. When I reached house after two hours, it was well past mid-night. I was thoroughly soaked and extremely tired but on the whole it was a fun event and a thing to remember.

After going through the entire experience, I would say that for the new Canadians, Victoria Day is now just an excuse to have a good time and enjoy a holiday. As its traditional song says:

The twenty-fourth of May
is the Queen's birthday;
if they don't give us a holiday
we'll all run away!

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