Let’s still not call it “Simcoe Day” .. Ontario remains a bigger place in a better Canada now (whatever Stephen Harper may say)

Jul 30th, 2011 | By Counterweights Editors | Category: In Brief

Windsor, Ontario Emancipation Day Parade, August 1959.

Last year the civic holiday held on the first Monday of August — in various Canadian provinces and territories — fell on Monday, August 2.

On the same day the Toronto Star published an article arguing that: “Today is Simcoe Day in Toronto, a holiday named in honour of the first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, as Ontario used to be known. But in most of the rest of the province, today has the exceedingly dull moniker of ‘civic holiday.’ It is a wasted opportunity to celebrate our history …  for the rest of the province, let it be called Simcoe Day” too.

At the Toronto Caribana official launch 2009. Brett Gundlock/National Post.

On the very same day this (admittedly much less widely circulated) regional blog published an article by the Ontario historian Dr. Randall White, arguing “Let’s not call it ‘Simcoe Day’ .. Ontario is a bigger place in a better Canada now.” This explained why “ the first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, as Ontario used to be known” — an official of the old  British empire who spent a mere four years in these parts — did not deserve to be honoured in any such way by what has now become modern Canada’s most populous province.

As best we can tell, the world has still not listened to the Toronto Star on this point, and the August civic holiday is still not called Simcoe Day throughout Ontario (although some Toronto-centric Ontarians may sometimes seem to think it is). We point again to Dr. White’s article of last year, however (“Let’s not call it ‘Simcoe Day’ .. Ontario is a bigger place in a better Canada now”), because we think it still makes some compelling points.

2009 Emancipation Day Parade in Windsor, Ontario.

(And because who knows just what the new federal majority government of Mr. Harper — which apparently so much values such Simcoe-like things as the British monarchy in Canada, the old-school military, and perhaps even the Anglican Church — may try to do before the next federal election in 2015?)

Meanwhile, it also seems worth noting that this year the first Monday in August falls on Monday, August 1. And August 1, 2011 marks the 177th anniversary of the official abolition of slavery in the old British empire. For the past few years now the August 1 “Emancipation Day” has once again been celebrated in Windsor, Ontario (where Dr. White tells us he can remember being so impressed by an Emancipation Day Parade back in the mid 1960s).

Toronto Caribana Parade 2010. Brett Gundlock/National Post.

In Toronto itself, for many years now, the so-called Simcoe Day holiday weekend has usually been best known for the Caribana Parade (now more officially termed the Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival Parade — or something like that). And finally, Monday, August 1, 2011 marks as well the beginning of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, “considered to be the most holy and blessed month” of the year. All of which, we submit, just adds fresh icing to the article on the frailties of Simcoe Day that Dr. White posted this time last year.

In any event, and whatever your persuasion, Happy August 1, 2011 — wherever you may be, in the true north, strong and free, where the summer goes all too quickly, and the snow-blankets of winter are what finally keep us warm.

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