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Why Do We Celebrate Simcoe Day?

For many of us, the holiday Monday in August is just that. A welcome day off smack dab in the middle of the summer.

But how much do you know about the man we’re supposed to be celebrating today, John Graves Simcoe? He’s who Simcoe Day is named for, and he was most notably the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, putting Toronto on the map. Perhaps that’s why though not everyone in the province celebrates the August holiday as Simcoe Day, Toronto citizens do.

At Fort York Monday there was a reenactment of life in the late 1700s, when the high-ranking soldier was alive.

Simcoe made his name during the American Revolution, was appointed Lieutenant Governor in 1791 and arrived in Upper Canada a year later. He had initially established the capital city in what is now Niagara-on-the-Lake, but as the threat of American attack increased he sought a more secure location. That location is where Toronto now exists.

Today he has both a street and a lake named after him in Ontario.

And though Toronto recognizes Simcoe Day, this August break is more widely known as simply Civic Holiday in many parts of Canada.

However it goes by a variety of names both across the country and in other areas of Ontario. For example, it’s British Columbia Day in B.C., New Brunswick Day in New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan Day in, where else, Saskatchewan.

In Ottawa it’s known as Colonel By Day, in Burlington it’s Joseph Brant Day, and in Guelph it’s John Galt Day. For a breakdown of what’s celebrated where, click here.

For more on the origins of Simcoe Day, click here.