A Guide to Civic Holiday and Simcoe Day

A Guide to Civic Holiday and Simcoe Day


Civic Holiday is a public holiday that is celebrated throughout Canada every year on the first Monday of August. The holiday goes by many different names depending on which province you're in, and which community you’re in when it comes to Ontario. In Toronto since 1969, it has been known as “Simcoe Day.”

In this blog, we will examine the origins and history of Civic Holiday across Canada, and Simcoe Day in Toronto, and detail the significance, meaning and practices of the holiday.

What is Civic Holiday and why are there different names for it in different provinces?

As previously mentioned, Civic Holiday is a public holiday that Canada observes on the first Monday of August. It is referred to as Civic Holiday because it is not a federally mandated holiday by the government and is given a different name in provinces and civic municipalities across Canada.

The first reference to Civic Holiday dates to the mid-1850s and early 1860s when some communities began having a holiday in early August. The idea quickly spread across Canada, and Civic Holiday was soon commonplace.

This year’s Civic Holiday will take place on Monday, August 7th.

Regional Differences in the Names of Civic Holiday – Provinces

There are a variety of different names for the holiday across the provinces of Canada. Among provinces where it is a provincially mandated statutory holiday, it is called:

  • British Columbia Day in British Columbia
  • New Brunswick Day in New Brunswick
  • Saskatchewan Day in Saskatchewan

In provinces where it remains just a public holiday, it is referred to as:

  • Heritage Day in Albert
  • Natal Day in Nova Scotia
  • Terry Fox Day in Manitoba

Regional Differences in the Names of Civic Holiday – Ontario

Additionally, in Ontario, the name of the holiday is different in various communities across the province, often named after founding members of the community. These include "Colonel By Day" in Ottawa, “John Galt Day” in Guelph, and of course “Simcoe Day” in Toronto.

How did Simcoe Day Get its name?

Simcoe Day’s name is derived from John Graves Simcoe, who was the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada and founded Toronto (then known as York) in 1793. Toronto named the first Monday in August holiday Simcoe Day, starting in 1969, in honour of Simcoe.

What were some of John Graves Simcoe’s contributions?

John Graves Simcoe made numerous important contributions to the fabric of Canada that are still felt today. During his tenure as lieutenant governor, Simcoe promoted the immigration of American loyalists to Canada, introduced English law to Canada, oversaw the creation of new infrastructure, buildings, and roads (including Yonge Street), and passed a law to abolish slavery in Upper Canada in 1793, before it was completely abolished by the British empire in 1833.

How is Simcoe Day Observed in Toronto?

Simcoe Day celebrations can range from low-key gatherings of family and friends for meals, to sporting events, and cultural festivals. The day serves as a way for us to learn about local culture and history and also provides a much-deserved rest for many workers. Various events take place in Toronto each year, including outdoor adventures, fireworks, and visits to historic Fort York, a British military garrison established by Simcoe in 1793.

What is open and closed on Simcoe Day in Toronto?

As Civic Holiday is not a statutory holiday in most places, including Ontario, a good number of stores and attractions remain open. However, there are some exceptions. Banks, government offices, Canada Post offices, schools and libraries will be closed. Most grocery stores, LCBOs, malls and museums remain open, though many will be operating under holiday hours. Additionally, it is best practice to call and inquire if a business is open or not as it is common for many to take the day off.


Civic Holiday is an important and unique holiday across Canada that allows us to celebrate local heroes, culture and history, such as the case of John Graves Simcoe on Simcoe Day in Toronto.  Whether you celebrate by taking in a cultural event, watching some fireworks, or simply relaxing, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable Civic Holiday this August!

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