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Victoria Day History & Activity
May 18 @ 8:00 AM - May 24 @ 5:00 PM
What is Victoria Day?
Have you ever wondered why we have a long weekend in May every year? This Monday is Victoria Day, a celebration of the English monarch Queen Victoria! Victoria was queen of England from 1837-1901, and was the Head of State when Canada became an independent country in 1867.
Queen Victoria was born on May 24th, 1819. In 1854 (the same year the limestone St. Andrews Rectory was completed!), about 5000 Canadians gathered on King and Simcoe Streets in Toronto on May 24th to “give cheers to their queen.” After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, May 24th was made by law to be known as Victoria Day, a date to remember the late queen who was deemed to be the “Mother of Confederation.” It wasn’t until 1952 that Victoria Day was moved to the Monday before May 25th, as legally made by royal proclamation.
Victoria Day is officially a celebration of Queen Victoria, but many Canadians also consider it to be the beginning of summer! Parks, outdoor restaurants, bicycle rentals, and many other summer businesses wait until May long weekend to open every year. Gardeners often wait until Victoria Day to plant their seeds in the ground, since it usually marks the last frost of Spring.
Try Making Your Very Own Victorian Silhouette Art!
- Side profile picture of the person you are making a silhouette of
- Black paper
- Contrasting paper for mounting the silhouette on
- Find a friend or loved one and take a picture of their profile (the side of their face)
- Once you have your image, load it onto your computer (for example, on a Word doc) and crop the picture so it’s just around the subject’s face. Make the picture as big as you want the silhouette art to be. Print it out.
- Using scissors, cut out the profile from the image you’ve printed out. Also cut a kind of curve into the chest of the person’s profile.
- Lay the cut-out silhouette on black paper, trace the outline onto it and then cut it out. Of course, you can use any coloured paper to do your silhouette, but black is the traditional colour.
5. Glue your silhouette onto a contrasting piece of cardstock or paper.
More Facts About Queen Victoria…
- Queen Victoria’s first name is Alexandrina, named after one of her godparents, Alexander I of Russia, and her middle name is Victoria, named after her mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.
- Queen Victoria’s reign of 63 years, seven months and two days was longer than any previous monarch. Her great-great-granddaughter Elizabeth II surpassed this record on September 9th, 2015, and as of right now Queen Elizabeth II has been reigning for 69 years.
- She was also the empress of India.
- Victoria inherited the throne after her father’s three elder brothers died without surviving legitimate issue. At birth, she was fifth in line to the throne, and by fluke all her relatives died, ensuring her rule.
- As a child, Victoria learned to speak French, German, Italian, Latin, and English, but only spoke English at home.
- Queen Victoria was coronated on June 28th, 1838 at Westminster Abbey. Over 400 000 visitors came to London for the celebrations.
- Gender roles reversed- on October 15th, 1839, Queen Victoria proposed to Prince Albert, and they were married on February 10th, 1840 in the Chapel Royal of St. James’s Palace, London.
- For her wedding, Queen Victoria wore a white wedding dress made from heavy silk satin, making her one of the first women to wear white for their wedding. Although she is not the first royal to wear a white wedding gown, Queen Victoria is credited as starting the tradition of white weddings and white bridal gowns.
- Queen Victoria has been the victim of over four assassination attempts but was not hurt in any of them.
- Queen Victoria was buried in a white gown with her white wedding veil.
- Queen Victoria was known for her diary keeping, and it is estimated that she wrote 2500 words a day during her adult life.
- Queen Victoria was a carrier of haemophilia. While she did not suffer from haemophilia, she passed it on to her daughters and great-grandsons.
- At the end of her reign, the Queen’s full title was: “Her Majesty Queen Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India.”