|Observed by||Canada (most jurisdictions)|
|Date||First Monday in August|
|2020 date||August 3|
|2021 date||August 2|
|2022 date||August 1|
|2023 date||August 7|
Civic Holiday (French: congé civique) is a public holiday in Canada celebrated on the first Monday in August.
Though the first Monday of August is celebrated in most of Canada as a public holiday, it is only officially known as "Civic Holiday" in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, where it is a territorial statutory holiday.
In other provinces and municipalities, the holiday is known by a variety of names, including British Columbia Day in British Columbia, New Brunswick Day in New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan Day in Saskatchewan; all of these places celebrate the date as a provincial statutory holiday.
The holiday is celebrated as Heritage Day in Alberta; Natal Day in Nova Scotia, in commemoration of the founding of the Halifax–Dartmouth area; and as Terry Fox Day in Manitoba, in honour of the Manitoba-born athlete. The date is also celebrated as several municipal holidays in Ontario, such as Simcoe Day in Toronto, John Galt Day in Guelph, and Colonel By Day in Ottawa. Despite its special designations, the day is not a statutory holiday in Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Alberta, or Ontario; however, it is commonly observed by all levels of government, financial institutions and some businesses.
The word civic is in reference to municipalities (such as cities, towns, etc.), as this day is not legislatively mandated a public holiday across the country by the Canadian federal government and is often given a different, more specific name by some municipalities or provinces.
In 1974, the Government of Alberta, acting through Minister of Culture Horst A. Schmid, declared the first Monday in August an annual holiday to recognize and celebrate the varied cultural heritage of Albertans, known as "Heritage Day". This gave rise in 1976 to the Edmonton Heritage Festival, a three-day celebration of food, dance, and handicrafts of cultures from around the world. Heritage Day is not a statutory holiday but is often celebrated as such.
In 1974, Surrey MLA Ernie Hall, part of the BC NDP government of Dave Barrett, introduced legislation in the provincial legislature to establish the day as a provincial statutory holiday.
As the name suggests, British Columbia Day, commonly referred to as "BC Day", celebrates the history, heritage, and culture of British Columbia.
In Manitoba, the first Monday in August is celebrated as "Terry Fox Day" in honour of athlete and cancer research activist Terry Fox, who was born in Winnipeg in 1958.
The province marked the first Terry Fox Day on 3 August 2015, making Manitoba the first province to name a day in Fox's honour. British Columbia and Ontario have since begun to celebrate "Terry Fox Day" on the second Sunday of September, as that is usually the national date for the Terry Fox Run.
In New Brunswick, the first Monday in August is celebrated as "New Brunswick Day".
It was first proposed in October 1974 by Progressive Conservative premier Richard Hatfield as part of his party's re-election platform. It was first observed on Monday, August 4, 1975.
In Ontario, the first Monday of August is technically a municipal holiday, as it is not designated as an official statutory holiday by provincial legislation. (Various private member's bills have been introduced in the Ontario Legislature attempting to make it official, but none has passed to date.)
As such, the holiday takes on different names and celebrates different subjects according to municipality. Many Ontario municipalities have chosen to honour a significant local person or organization in order to localize the celebration; when not given a local name (such as in Mississauga), the day is often generically referred to as "Civic Holiday" or "August Civic Holiday".
In 2008, the Ontario Legislature passed a law identifying the first of August as "Emancipation Day", as the British Parliament abolished slavery in the British Empire as of August 1, 1834. It still does not make it an official holiday, however. The Caribbean Cultural Festival, formerly known as Caribana, is held this holiday weekend in Toronto, coinciding with Emancipation Day.
The Civic Holiday is now known by one of a number of local appellations, including, among others:
Although a work holiday is given to employees of the federal, provincial, and many municipal governments (usually by inclusion in the contract with the employees' union), the Government of Ontario has not defined this day as a statutory holiday that all employers must treat as a holiday, and it is not mentioned in Ontario's Employment Standards Act nor the Retail Business Holidays Act.
Schools are generally already closed, regardless of the holiday's status, because of summer vacation.
In 1869, the city of Toronto became the first introduce the civic holiday when the Toronto City Council called for a midsummer holiday for a "day of recreation". In 1875, the City Council fixed the first Monday in August as a Civic Holiday.
The holiday was renamed "Simcoe Day" in 1969 in honour of John Graves Simcoe—who was the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, who established York (now Toronto) as the capital of Ontario, and who was the leading proponent of the Act Against Slavery. However, a motion at the Ontario Municipal Association to extend the name change across Ontario failed. According to a 2005 proclamation, this name continues to apply in Toronto.
The holiday is not an official holiday, although some businesses may close for the day. Additionally, federal workers receive the day off and federal services are closed, but municipal and provincial services and workers have varying decisions made on their status, with some choosing to have a day off in celebration of Gold Cup Parade instead. This leads to a mix of openings and closings across the province. The capital city of Charlottetown has its own Natal Day, in early June, which should not be confused with Nova Scotia's Natal Day.
An official holiday on the first Monday in August was first proposed in Saskatchewan on 17 March 1975, by Gordon Snyder, Saskatchewan's Minister of Labour. The holiday was already celebrated by businesses across Saskatchewan, but Snyder wanted it to be a recognized statutory holiday known as "Saskatchewan Day". His proposal was approved in June of that year and the first Saskatchewan Day was celebrated that August.
The first Monday of August in Saskatchewan is therefore a statutory holiday as designated in the Labour Standards Act.
The first Monday in August is not generally observed as a holiday in Quebec, parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, or Yukon, but replacement summer holidays may be observed as follows:
There was some discussion, back in the early 2000s, of naming the Civic Holiday in Mississauga after Reverend Peter Jones (Kahkewaquonaby, 1802-1856), a renowned Chief of the Mississaugas at the Credit River, but this was not formally adopted. The official name for the holiday here remains the Civic Holiday.
The August long weekend has not always been known as McLaughlin Day in Oshawa. Up until 1983, it was simply known as the Civic Holiday. The proposal to celebrate McLaughlin family, in particular R. S. McLaughlin, on the Civic Holiday was initiated by Alderman Ed Kolodzie. He felt there was a need to recognize the impact of the McLaughlin family on the city and city council decided that the Civic Holiday was the perfect day to do so.
Colonel By Day, held on the holiday Monday in August each year (in recognition of the Colonel's birth date of August 7, 1779) is an annual celebration of the history of the Rideau Canal and Bytown's founder, Lieutenant Colonel John By.
Since the late 1990s, the Civic holiday in Sarnia has been known as Alexander Mackenzie Day in recognition of Canada's second Prime Minister.
Since 2013, the civic holiday has been named Benjamin Vaughan Day in the city to honour the historical figure. However, the city is now under pressure to change both the name of their city as well as the civic holiday due to the history of racism that the title carries.