Journée des Patriotes (Patriot's Day) is a statutory holiday held in Quebec on the Monday preceding May 25, and on the same day the rest of Canada celebrates Victoria Day (Queen Victoria's birthday). The creates a double holiday for the city of Quebec, as many businesses shut down for the occasion. However, if you find yourself visiting the city on this patriotic day, not everything grinds to a halt. Many shops and attractions remain open, providing the perfect ending to a weekend full of festivals and events.
Victoria Day or Journée des Patriotes?
It's true. There is confusion over what to actually call this Quebecan holiday. Many residents, and even the local media are openly divided on the subject. Some insist on celebrating Victoria Day in honor of the Queen. While others pledge allegiance to Journée des Patriotes as a day when the rebels rose against class warfare and political favoritism. Officially placing this holiday on top of Victoria Day in 1919 was, in part, due to the Queen's unpopularity in Quebec at the time. And today, the time-honored ritual remains intact.
Government Offices and Restaurants
Plan ahead if Victoria Day lands in the middle of your Montreal stay. On this day, banks, post offices, municipal courts, and most provincial and federal offices will remain closed. It's a good day to write your postcards (if you still engage in this old-school practice), but you'll have to send them out on Tuesday. And while most restaurants aren't operated by the Canadian government, some will be closed, as it's common practice for restaurants to close every Monday anyway (similar to the United States).
Shopping doesn't take a hit on Victoria Day, with many mall shops advertising holiday weekend sales. Hit up Westmont Square at the beginning of Ste. Catherine Street, or Place Alexis-Nihon for affordable clothing and accessory shops. Montreal's famous dépanneurs (corner stores) pride themselves of being open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So, you can still grab a late-night snack or beverage if you need to. Pharmacies should be open for any drug or self-care needs. And grocery stores, SAQ liquor stores, and farmer's markets will still be able to help you with your food and beverages.
Do note: service-based businesses like hair salons and gas stations are free to remain open, but only at their discretion. And parking meters still remain in effect (no freebies on Victoria Day).
Luckily for tourists and local card sharks, the Montreal Casino is always open! And Victoria Day lends no exception. So is La Ronde amusement park. In fact, it will have just opened for the season making it free of summer crowds. If it's a rainy day, head inside of the Montreal Biodome, home to a series of indoor ecological systems, the Montreal Insectarium, a fun outing for budding entomologists, and the Montreal Planetarium, for all things astronomical. On Victoria Day, the Montreal Botanical Gardens hosts the newest spring blooms and most arenas, swimming pools, and sports centers remain open.
Keep in mind, however, that public transit schedules (buses, metros, and trains) adopt the slower weekend schedule on the Monday of Victoria Day, so plan your outings accordingly.