Holidays for Expats and Locals in Toronto and Ontario
Ontario has quite a few public holidays. On these days many businesses close, and those that require employees to work must pay their staff 2.5 times their usual wages. Here are the official and unofficial holidays that are recognized in Ontario (Official holidays are in bold print):
- January 1, 2021: New Year’s Day – Shops and businesses are closed, with almost everyone recovering from the previous night’s celebrations.
- February 15: Family Day – This recently-introduced holiday is still a developing tradition. Most stores are closed as it is an official holiday, but there is still some confusion as to whether staff should have the day off. In 2011, this day will fall on February 21.
- March 17th: St. Patrick’s Day – Not an official holiday, though many bars hold St. Patrick’s Day specials, and some groups hold St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and parades. This day falls on a Tuesday in 2011, so don’t drink too much green beer!
- Good Friday – While this is an official holiday, there are very few celebrations specific to this day. Most are based around celebrating Easter in general. The date of Good Friday varies from year to year. In 2011, it will be celebrated on Friday, April 2 in 2021.
- Easter Monday – Not officially a holiday, but nearly all businesses treat it as such. Tons of Easter eggs, chocolates, bunnies and other goodies are on sale everywhere. Churches, of course, celebrate Easter, with special services throughout the weekend. In 2011 this day will fall on Monday, April 25.
- Monday before or after May 24: Victoria Day – Best known for the firework displays, Victoria Day marks the beginning of the summer season to most Ontarians. Most people call the Victoria Day weekend the “May 24 weekend”, and make plans to go camping, go out drinking, or head to the pool. Officially, of course, Victoria Day is a celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday. Victoria Day will be celebrated on May 23 in 2011.
- July 1st: Canada Day – Canada’s Birthday is celebrated with local festivities, parades, and fireworks.
- 1st Monday in August: Civic Holiday / Simcoe Day – This holiday goes by many names according to where it is celebrated. In Toronto it is called “Simcoe Day”. It is officially a civic holiday, and not a provincial holiday, but most businesses still close and offer holiday pay to their staff. The holiday is fairly low-key, but some locations offer special celebrations.
- 1st Monday in September: Labour Day – A celebration of those who labour to make society run, Labour Day marks the end of the summer school holidays. Toronto holds a big Labour Day parade each year.
- 2nd Monday in October: Thanksgiving – Unlike the US, which celebrates Thanksgiving in November, Canadians celebrate the holiday in October. Most people have family get-togethers and Turkey dinners. This day will be celebrated on October 10 in 2011.
- November 11th: Remembrance Day – Not an official holiday, but many businesses hold a minute of silence at 11:00am. There are celebrations held by schools and veterans groups for those interested.
- December 25th: Christmas – Every store, TV station and radio program announce the Christmas season from late November on. The official start of the holiday season is the Toronto Santa Claus Parade, an internationally televised event that you should take the time to see at least once during your stay in Toronto. Many places close early on Christmas Eve, and some even close for the 2 weeks that include Christmas and New Year’s.
- December 26th: Boxing Day – An official holiday, most use the day off to rest from the Christmas celebrations.
- December 31st: New Year’s Eve – Not a holiday, but many stores close down early or don’t open for the day. Most people celebrate New Year’s at parties, bars, or at huge downtown celebrations. Television stations broadcast New Year’s celebrations from across Canada and the United States for those who choose to stay home.