Celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving in Vancouver

Turkey in roasting pan on table for holiday meal
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Thanksgiving is a public, or "statutory," holiday throughout Canada, including Vancouver, British Columbia. It falls on the second Monday of October every year, and in 2019, Canadian Thanksgiving is Monday, October 14. Thanksgiving is a great time to carry on the Canadian tradition of welcoming in fall with seasonal comfort food and watching some football. Or, for those wanting to avoid the football-watching tradition, there's always shopping because many stores are open in Vancouver on Thanksgiving.

History of Candian Thanksgiving

Canadian Thanksgiving became a public holiday in 1957, but it has its roots in much older traditions. It is partly linked to European and First Nations' harvest festivals and partly to the English explorer Martin Frobisher's 1578 voyage to Canada in search of the Northwest Passage. Frobisher's trip was plagued with such severe weather and ice that when he and his men reunited in Frobisher's Bay (in Nunavut), they held the first ceremonial Thanksgiving to thank God and for their "strange and miraculous deliverance."

Canadian Thanksgiving Traditions

Like all Canadians, most Vancouver residents celebrate Thanksgiving at home with their families, where they often serve up a traditional Canadian Thanksgiving meal of roasted turkey, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. For some, watching football is another Thanksgiving tradition—the Canadian Football League has a nationally televised doubleheader on Thanksgiving called the Thanksgiving Day Classic.

If you're making your own Thanksgiving meal in Vancouver, you can buy fresh produce at Vancouver farmers markets or go pumpkin picking before the holiday. For those wanting to dine out and enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving menu, many Vancouver restaurants have Thanksgiving meal deals.

What's Open and What's Closed on Thanksgiving

Because Thanksgiving is a public holiday, government offices are closed on Thanksgiving Day, as are schools, banks, libraries, and most BC Liquor Stores, though some remain open for liquor purchases on the holiday.

Most shops, stores, and supermarkets are open on Thanksgiving Monday in Vancouver, particularly the large chain stores and shops in major shopping districts, like Downtown's Robson Street.

Public parks, including Stanley Park and Queen Elizabeth Park, are open and nice places to go if the weather is mild, as are the top 10 Vancouver attractions.

Thanksgiving kicks off the Halloween season, too. The Vancouver Halloween Parade and Expo is a family-friendly parade in downtown Vancouver on the Sunday of the long Thanksgiving weekend. You'll see people in costume dressed as superheroes, Japanese anime characters, and more—though nothing too scary at this family-friendly event. At the Expo, located at Robson Square, there is live music and Halloween activities.

Traveling Over Thanksgiving Weekend

Because Thanksgiving Monday is part of a three-day weekend, many Vancouverites travel outside the city. The United States is a popular destination, so expect increased border wait times at the Peace Arch and Pacific Highway Border crossings and plan ahead accordingly. Other popular Vancouver weekend getaways include trips to Vancouver Island and Victoria, the British Columbia interior, and resorts near Vancouver, like Whistler and Grouse Mountain.

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