By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, August 2, 2014
How to celebrate the first Monday in August
The first Monday in August is known by several different names across the province.
In Niagara Falls, it’s officially referred to as Civic Day.
In Toronto, the holiday has been known as Simcoe Day since 1969 in honour of John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada who supported legislation to ban slavery.
The John Simcoe Foundation requested in 1970 that Niagara Falls council change the name to Simcoe Day but the council at that time did not approve the name change.
Simcoe St., one of the oldest streets in Niagara Falls, was named in honour of Simcoe.
Janice Thomson, chairwoman of the Niagara Parks Commission, would like to see the holiday Monday known as Simcoe Day.
The NPC will celebrate the holiday this weekend at the Mackenzie Printery where some of the first government documents produced in Upper Canada were printed.
The First Emancipation Act was passed in 1793 and the printed act came from the press. The first Monday in August is also referred to as Emancipation Day.
“The event at the printery is a good example of what may be needed to raise awareness for Lord Simcoe and the role he played in the province, as the first Lt . Gov. To Niagara-on-the-Lake, he is an important figure, as he named the town Newark and established Niagara-on-the-Lake as the first capital of Upper Canada,” Thomson said.
There is a statue in his honour at Simcoe Park on King St. in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The problem is, however, with all the visitor traffic through the historic town, it was hard to find someone who knew of Simcoe.
“I have no idea who he is or what he did,” said Karl Weber, from Germany.
“But, he must be important if there’s a statue in his memory.”
City historian Sherman Zavitz favours naming the holiday Champlain Day in honour of French explorer Samuel Champlain.
“He was great explorer and I would support that,” he said. “He was a man with great vision.”
Zavitz would also support naming the holiday Macdonald Day, after Canada’s first prime minister John A. Macdonald.
In Ottawa, the first Monday in August is Colonel By Day, George Hamilton Day in Hamilton and Joseph Brant Day in Burlington.
In British Columbia, it’s British Columbia Day, Heritage Day in Alberta, Natal Day in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan Day in Saskatchewan. (Source: Fort Erie Times)