Public holidays in Canada are set at the national level across the country as well as by each of the 10 provinces and three territories. Some national holidays, like Christmas, are on the same date each year. Others, like Victoria Day, vary from year to year. It's always good to know what those revolving dates are so you can plan for weekend getaways or get-togethers with family and friends, or just know when banks and schools will be closed.
Besides Canadian national holidays, there are provincial holidays. The Canadian public holidays listed below are all annual national holidays on which banks, government offices, schools and businesses are closed unless otherwise indicated. Read on to find out more about Canada's public holidays.
New Years Day
January 1, New Years Day, is a holiday across all of Canada’s provinces and territories. If this date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the holiday moves to Monday, January 2 or 3. You’ll find that schools, post offices and many businesses and organizations are closed with public transit running on a reduced schedule. For many Canadians, especially those in larger cities like Toronto and Montreal, going for New Years Day brunch is a big deal. Main celebrations happen on New Years Eve and, for many, into the early hours January 1. Celebrations are held all across the country in bars, restaurants, family homes and, in some cases, public. New Years festivities happen in the form of outdoor concerts and fireworks displays (weather permitting).
Dates: Tuesday, January 1 (2019); Wednesday, January 1 (2020); Friday, January 1 (2021)
Family Day is celebrated on the 3rd Monday in February in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Currently, British Columbia celebrates Family Day on the second Monday in February, but that will be changing to the third Monday come 2019. First held in Alberta in 1990, Family Day has since been adopted by other provinces. In general, the holiday is meant to celebrate the importance of families and provide them with a day off to spend together. For those who have Family Day off, the day is often spend participating in winter activities like skating and skiing, or doing other things together as a family including utilizing the long weekend to travel either within Canada or somewhere warm.
Dates: Monday, February 18 (2019); Monday, February 17 (2020); Monday, February 15 (2021)
Good Friday falls two days before Easter Sunday and for Christians, this is the day commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Christian Canadians will often attend special church services on Good Friday even if, during the rest of the year, they don’t regularly go to church. For Canadians who aren’t Christians, Good Friday means the start of a three- or four-day-long weekend and the chance to celebrate spring. Some people use the long weekend as an opportunity to take a short holiday or visit family and friends. Schools and many businesses and organizations are closed on Good Friday.
Dates: Friday, April 19 (2019); Friday, April 10 (2020); Friday, April 2 (2021)
Easter Monday marks the end of Easter weekend in Canada, and for Christians, Easter Monday is the day after Easter Sunday, which commemorates Jesus Christ's resurrection. However, not everyone gets Easter Monday off so while some people are enjoying the last day of a four-day weekend, some are going back to work. In Quebec, companies can choose between giving employees Good Friday or Easter Monday off, while in Alberta, Easter Monday is an optional general holiday. This is a day where (if you did have a four-day weekend) you might be coming back from a short vacation, or using the day to have Easter dinner with family and friends. If kids are involved, Easter Monday is often when Easter egg hunts are held.
Dates: Monday, April 22 (2019); Monday, April 13 (2020); Monday, April 5 (2021)
Victoria Day is a holiday in Canada in honor of Queen Victoria’s birthday and was declared a Canadian holiday by the government in 1845. The holiday was originally celebrated on May 24 (the date of Queen Victoria’s birthday), but in 1952, the government made the decision to begin celebrating Victoria Day on the Monday before May 25 (which does sometimes fall on the 24th, but the date of the holiday now varies). Victoria Day is also known as the May long weekend, “May long” and “May 2-4.” This is the day that means the beginning of gardening, cottaging and camping season across the country. Victoria Day is celebrated in most cities in Canada with parades, outdoor events and fireworks. The Island Farms Victoria Day Parade in Victoria, British Columbia is the largest parade of the year in Victoria and makes a great place to celebrate.
Dates: Monday, May 20 (2019); Monday, May 18 (2020); Monday, May 24 (2021)
As the name suggests, Canada Day celebrates Canada, or more accurately, the anniversary of the date that Canada became a self-governing country. For most people, Canada Day, celebrated on July 1, represents Canada’s birthday party and the real start to summer. Canada Day weekend is a big weekend for camping trips or going to cottages, and there are fireworks, events and performances in major cities across the country. The nation’s capital of Ottawa is a great place to be on Canada Day where you’ll find all sorts of events and activities going on. No matter where you celebrate you’ll see a lot of Canadian flags, often adorning T-shirts and hats.
Dates: Monday, July 1 (2019); Wednesday, July 1 (2020); Thursday July 1 (2021)
Following Canada day on July 1, the Civic Holiday happens on the first Monday in August. This holiday is also commonly referred to as the August Long Weekend and often referred to by different names depending on location. The provinces of British Columbia (British Columbia Day), Alberta (Heritage Day), Manitoba (Terry Fox Day), Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan Day), Ontario (Civic Holiday), Nova Scotia (Natal Day), Prince Edward Island (Natal Day), New Brunswick (New Brunswick Day), Nunavut (Civic Holiday), and the Northwest Territories (Civic Holiday) all have a holiday on the first Monday in August. This is another popular weekend for camping and cottaging or otherwise using the time off to make the most of summer. Quebec, Newfoundland, and Yukon do not have an August long weekend holiday
Dates: Monday, August 5 (2019); Monday, August 3 (2020); Monday, August 2 (2021)
Labour Day is held on the first Monday in September and marks the unofficial end of summer for most Canadians. What is now a day off spent getting kids ready to go back to school or driving home from a camping or cottaging trip was once an occasion to campaign for and celebrate workers' rights. This is a day that summer really starts winding down, with the new school year looming ahead. Most people use the day to relax and enjoy the last bit of summer. In Toronto, this is also the last weekend of the Canadian National Exhibition, which also hosts a Labour Day parade each year.
Dates: Monday, September 2 (2019); Monday, September 7 (2020); Monday, September 6 (2021)
In Canada, Thanksgiving Monday is a holiday that falls on the second Monday of October. This is a holiday all about the food, with many families across the country using Thanksgiving Monday to get together with family for a large turkey dinner with seasonal sides like squash, turnip and corn. But turkey dinner is just tradition, not something that everyone subscribes to. Others use the long weekend to travel and enjoy the changing colours of the leaves with a hike or last trip to the cottage before the onset of winter. The gist of the holiday has always been to be with family or friends (or both) and give thanks for what you have.
Dates: Monday, October 14 (2019); Monday, October 12 (2020); Monday, October 11 (2021)
In the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day you’ll see many people sporting bright red poppy pins on lapels and bags as a way to commemorate the day and as a symbol of remembrance. Originally called Armistice Day, Remembrance Day falls on November 11 each year and marks the end of hostilities during the First World War and the chance to honor all those who have served for Canada. There are usually special church services and a moment of silence at 11 a.m. The official Canadian national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario.
Dates: Monday, November 11 (2019); Wednesday, November 11 (2020); Thursday November 11 (2021)
Falling on December 25, Christmas Day holds different meaning for different people across Canada, but generally it’s a day for celebration, opening and exchanging gifts and spending time with friends and family over a shared meal. Many households are either prepping to host a dinner or packing up to attend one. Other families use the day for spending time outdoors in the snow going sledding or walking around various neighbourhoods to look at Christmas lights. Leading up to Christmas Day, there are various celebrations held across the country such as Santa Clause parades, tree-lighting ceremonies and holiday-themed dinners and events like Christmas markets. Some of the best Christmas markets happen in Toronto, Quebec, and Vancouver.
Dates: Wednesday, December 25 (2019); Friday, December 25 (2020); Saturday, December 25 (2021)
The day after Christmas Day, December 26, is known as Boxing Day and is a holiday in many parts of Canada. Although a lot of businesses are closed on Boxing Day, several major malls and big box stores across the country are open such as the Eaton Centre in Toronto and Eaton Centre Montreal. This is a big day for sales and bargain-hunting, with many people in Canada using the day to shop. If not going Boxing Day shopping, the day is also often spend watching sports, in particular the World Junior Hockey Championships, which often begin on Boxing Day.
Dates: Thursday, December 26 (2019); Saturday, December 26 (2020); Sunday, December 26 (2021)