What's Open on Canada's August Civic Holiday

British Columbia parliament building, victoria
 Nancy Rose/Getty Images

In 2019, the August Civic Holiday or August Long Weekend is Monday, August 5. This provincial holiday occurs in most all of the Canadian provinces and territories annually on the first Monday of August, giving some Canadians a break mid-summer. It is usually the busiest day on highways as many families go on holiday to their vacation homes or "cottages" over the weekend.

The holiday is not based on a historical or religious event—it's a civic day to give employees a break from work (kind of like Labor Day in the United States).

The tradition of a mid-summer holiday dates back to 1869, but it wasn't until 1875 when the first Monday in August became the August Civic Holiday in Toronto. Just be aware that the August Civic Holiday is not a "statutory" holiday, meaning employers aren't required to treat it as a mandatory holiday (although most people do get the day off work anyway).

Not all provinces observe an August Civic Holiday. Quebec, Newfoundland, and Nunavut do not have an August Civic Holiday and therefore conduct business as usual. Or, some places call the Civic Holiday by a different name.

The following Canadian provinces and territories have a holiday on the first Monday of August: British Columbia (British Columbia Day), Alberta (Heritage Day), Toronto (Simcoe Day), Ottawa (Colonel By 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), Newfoundland (Regatta Day), Nunavut (Civic Holiday), and the Northwest Territories (Civic Holiday).

In Burlington, Ontario it's often referred to as Joseph Brant Day and in the city of Vaughan, Ontario it's known as Benjamin Vaughan Day.

Most stores and services that normally open a weekends will operate on the Monday August Civic Holiday. Stores and services operate as usual on the Saturday and Sunday of this long weekend.

 For the provinces that do have a civic holiday, here is an overview of openings and closures (may vary slightly by location—call ahead to confirm).

Businesses That Are Closed on Monday, August 5, 2019

  • Banks
  • Most child-care centers
  • Government offices
  • Post offices / no mail delivery (post offices operated by the private sector may be open)
  • Libraries

Businesses That Are Open on Monday, August 5, 2019

  • Many Liquor/Beer Stores—possibly at reduced hours (check specific locations)
  • Malls
  • Most grocery stores, supermarkets and convenience stores—possibly at reduced hours
  • Tourist destinations, such as the CN Tower, the Vancouver Aquarium, museums, galleries etc.
  • Public transit on a holiday schedule
  • Garden centers
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