For some, Victoria Day is a sign that summer is just around the corner. The holiday, which is only celebrated in Canada and Scotland, began as a celebration to honour Queen Victoria’s birthday. The British queen was born on May 24, 1819 and became Queen on the 20th of June, 1837 at the age of 18. Remaining on her throne for 63 years, 216 days, she was the longest reigning British monarch, until Queen Elizabeth II surpassed that record on September 9th, 2015.
In Quebec La Journée nationale des patriotes is celebrated on the same day. But in “the Point” and Verdun, Victoria Day was also known as “fire cracker day”. My Grandfather told us stories of Irish families throughout Griffintown, Point St. Charles and Verdun that would light up the sky with fireworks. Entire blocks of kids, some wearing pajamas, would watch from the front steps of their brick row houses. When the neighborhood finally depleted its arsenal of roman candles and bottle rockets, the bonfires would begin.
Kids would grab anything they could: a loose section of fence, an old sofa and tires. Some of the fires would be in a field, some would be right there in the middle of Wellington St. The fire department would put one out only to see an even bigger fire pop up a few blocks over.
Of course, on a quieter note, there were also church picnics and field days to celebrate the Queen’s birthday!
Whether you’re celebrating Victoria Day, La Fête des patriotes, or just the warm weather, have a “firecracker” of a looonggg week-end!