Friday, August 4, 2017

Summer in Toronto: What is Simcoe Day?

Summer in Toronto: What is Simcoe Day?

Retail signs have started to go up announcing hours for the Civic Holiday on Monday of this upcoming long weekend.  Some people in Toronto refer to this holiday as Simcoe Day.  I love my work so long weekends don’t really get me excited but I was curious about the reason for this holiday. 
This mid-summer holiday is recognized in some but not all provinces.  In Ontario, the holiday has different names based on municipality. In Toronto, it is officially Simcoe Day.  For instance, here are some other names for the Civic Holiday:
Colonel By Day in Ottawa,
George Hamilton Day in Hamilton,
Joseph Brant Day in Burlington,
Founders' Day in Brantford,
McLaughlin Day in Oshawa,
Alexander Mackenzie Day in Sarnia,
James Cockburn Day in Cobourg,
Peter Robinson Day in Peterborough,
John Galt Day in Guelph,
So who was Simcoe and why does he merit a holiday? Simcoe Day was named in honour of John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor for Upper Canada (now Ontario).  Simcoe influence on Ontario and Canada was remarkable. 
As Lieutenant Governor and British Member of Parliament, he was known to support the abolition of slavery before coming to Canada, supported the Act against Slavery in the 1793.  This meant that slavery was abolished in Ontario decades before all other colonies in the British Empire. 
Simcoe was also responsible for moving the capital of Upper Canada (now Ontario) from Newark (Niagara-on-the-Lake) to York (now Toronto).  At the time, Toronto was severely underdeveloped and Simcoe’s decision began the development of the city.  Two main streets were built at this time through Upper Canada – Yonge Street and Dundas Street.           
In July 1796, Simcoe return to England due to ill health and never return to Upper Canada.
So, this weekend, enjoy time with friends and family and be grateful for Simcoe for putting Canada on the forefront of slavery abolition.

David Gharat

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