Victoria, Dollard or Patriots Day?
For some, upcoming Monday is Victoria Day. Others talk more about Dollard Day or Patriots Day. But what is this holiday worth to us, exactly?
The confusion is easily explained, because in Quebec, this holiday has already had all these names! Today is officially National Patriots Day, but the stories of the Queen and Dollard aren't far behind.
This celebration was first established to mark the birthday of Queen Victoria, even before the creation of Confederation. In the 1840s, the government of the United Province of Canada sought to create a unifying event for all Canadians. The assembly then proposed to mark the birthday of Queen Victoria, born on May 24. The young British sovereign ascended the throne at only 18 years old! She was therefore just 26 years old when, in 1845, the Victoria Day was created here.
Back then, the holiday was celebrated every May 24, regardless of the day of the week. Later, Victoria Day would instead be celebrated each year on the Monday before May 25.
Time passes, and the party does not appeal to all Canadians. Some denounce the fact that we are celebrating the birthday of a queen who lived on the other side of the Atlantic, in a country that is no longer ours, because Canada became independent in 1867. Quebec, especially, we are looking for a new hero.
For many Quebecers, this hero is Private Dollard des Ormeaux. This settler died in New France in 1660 in an epic battle against the Iroquois. Dollard des Ormeaux and a few dozen companions would have stood up for a long time to hundreds of Iroquois who wanted to attack Ville-Marie. The Frenchman and his allies died, but they would still have managed to save the inhabitants of the city.
In the 1920s, those who did not wish to celebrate the Queen began to highlight the exploits of Dollard des Ormeaux on that day. The double celebration took hold… but historians have cast doubts: Was Dollard's heroic story true? Some believed instead that the soldier died attempting to steal wealth. That could be less glorious!
Other Quebecers also pointed out that celebrating a victory against the natives was not very respectful for the First Nations.
From the 1950s, and until the early 2000s, several groups demanded that we celebrate the efforts of the patriots, who fought in 1837 and 1838 to obtain a democratic government. The idea caught on, and in 2002, the Government of Quebec decided: Queen's Day and Dollard's Day would become National Patriots' Day the following year.
It is therefore a day of holiday rich in stories of all kinds, but for the inhabitants of southern Quebec, this long weekend also has a very practical meaning: they finally have the green light to plant flowers without fear of frost! This is an occasion that deserves an extra celebration, right?
Article published in the edition of the newspaper LaPresse of May 21, 2017. Journalist: Isabelle Audet
Sources: La Presse, Canadian Encyclopedia, Government of Quebec
Take advantage of the long holiday to save!
Happy Victoria Day! I have to go mow my lawn now! lol!
Bonne fête des patriotes à tous et toutes! :-)