Thanksgiving is a public holiday in Canada, considered a "statutory" holiday in most provinces including British Columbia. It falls on the second Monday of October every year—in 2019, Canadian Thanksgiving is Monday, Oct. 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.
Celebrating Thanksgiving in Vancouver
Canadian Thanksgiving became a public holiday in the 1950s, 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."
Thanksgiving as we know it today in Canada and the United States featuring seasonal foods like turkey, squash and pumpkin was proclaimed an official holiday in 1957 and was then set to be celebrated annually on the second Monday of October.
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 double-header 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 Closed on Thanksgiving in Vancouver
Because Thanksgiving is a public holiday, government offices are closed on Thanksgiving Day, as are schools, banks, libraries, and most BC Liquor Stores. To find out which BC Liquor Stores are open on Thanksgiving Monday, check the BC Liquor Stores website.
What's Open on Thanksgiving in Vancouver
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.
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—nothing too scary. 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.