The first long weekend of nice weather (fingers crossed) is finally upon us. For this, we must thank Queen Victoria for the whole birthday thing. And of course, our forefathers back in 1845, before we were Canadians, who figured we should take a day off to celebrate.
It’s like these pioneers had the foresight of what a five-day work week would do for us in the future. Like they knew burnout would be a thing. Wait, that might be me viewing history through a modern lens. Their lives were far harder than we will ever know. Though, to be fair, they likely didn’t have work meetings that could have been an email.
Under Queen Victoria’s reign, our ancestors hosted family picnics, church services, parades and celebrations rallying communities in jubilation for the Monarchy. Everyone took a day to relax and come together. Yet in those days, relaxing didn’t mean beer with your buddies on a dock on Georgian Bay.
People would dress up in their finery. I don’t know how women of that time survived the wardrobe, but I can assure you there isn’t a woman alive who has worn those wretched figure-squeezing underpants or underwire bras, or the back-in-the-day girdles, who would think a hot spring day in a corset making small talk sounds lovely. Not one. Just imagine wearing that and having to pack a picnic lunch for your entire family without the aid of Tupperware, coolers – or like, even a fridge. Hard pass.
The commonwealth surely hadn’t heard of bug spray then either and you don’t want to know what they used to deter bugs. In modern day, Off! spray has become the sexiest cologne of the long weekend and when combined with the smell of bonfire smoke, seriously, why hasn’t a perfume manufacturer mixed those scents together? You’d buy it. You know you would.
Yet there was pride and pageantry in those celebrations of yesteryear. It’s fair to say we’ve lost that tie to the past. Present-day Canadians know almost nothing of Queen Victoria’s relevance, beyond films starring Dame Judi Dench or Emily Blunt (all great, by the way).
Most of us are still coming to terms with the family lineage of the present monarchy, much less its relevance to our lives here. I only watched highlights of the king’s coronation, (and I use the term “highlight” loosely). What I enjoyed most about that spectacle was the reminder that family dysfunction spares no bloodline. Wealth and privilege don’t bring happiness.
Long weekends do, though. Even with the predictable rise in gas prices, traffic congestion and longer lines at our two favourite locales, the Beer Store and LCBO, we will endure these temporary inconveniences to get a day off from the work grind.
Whether you agree with the Monarchy, understand our history in the commonwealth, or even a smidgeon of what it means for our future, I bet you will be in those lines and heading away to enjoy Victoria Day long weekend. It’s as Canadian as Off! and bonfire smoke as our makeshift cologne.
Please be safe this weekend. Drive carefully. Your family isn’t the only one on the road. Wherever you land, enjoy your time with people who are worthy of it. Make memories. Unwind. Laugh hard and often. And toast Queen Victoria, because it’s her birthday after all.