In provinces across Canada today, the third Monday in February, is Family Day. A day off work for no other reason than to spend time with our families (even if yours is a nontraditional one like our featured pet!)
And at this time of year, it’s one less day we have to drive to work in the cold!
So, where, when, and why did this day get its start? Well, let’s take a closer look.
First up, Alberta marks Family Day
Alberta, the province with 40 national parks, was the first to celebrate Family Day in 1990. At the time, they were the only province in Canada to have a paid day off in February.
Alberta Premier Don Getty said that it was important for Albertans to spend time with their families and that the holiday would highlight the importance of family values.
The third Monday in February date was chosen to match with Presidents Day in the US.
Having the two days match avoided disruptions in trade between the two countries.
Next in 2007, Saskatchewan rejoices
Seventeen years after Alberta, Premier Lorne Calvert introduced Family Day in Saskatchewan.
Calvert sensed that the gap between January 1st and Easter could be long, so he introduced the February holiday. He also wanted to recognize and rejoice in the strong role of family, in the province.
Did you know that there are more roads in Saskatchewan than in any other Canadian province? An impressive 160000 km to be exact.
That makes for lots of road trip options in Saskatchewan.
Then Ontario celebrates Family Day
During an election campaign in 2007, Dalton Mc Guinty (Liberal Party) promised that, if re-elected, he would form a provincial holiday in February.
Dalton won the election and as a result, in 2008, Ontario recognized Family Day.
Millions of people enjoy this day every year but interestingly enough it is not a statutory holiday.
British Columbia joins in 2013
In 2011, Christy Clark was running for the leadership of the BC Liberal Party and promised if elected she would create a holiday in February.
Clark did become Premier and in 2013 British Columbia joined the other provinces in celebrating Family Day.
By the way, BC is so large it spans 2 different time zones. Does that make for two days off?
Finally, Family Day in New Brunswick
In 2010 the Premier of New Brunswick, Shawn Graham, promised if his Liberal Party was returned to the government he would introduce Family Day. Graham did not win re-election and the Liberals were out.
Re-elected in 2014, the Liberal Party started a plan to introduce the February holiday.
Finally, in early 2018 New Brunswick became the newest province to observe Family Day.
Ironically, the newest province to observe this day is the oldest province in Canada!
The Authors’ thoughts about Family Day
So, it seems that every province that observes Family Day in Canada does so because of a promise made by a good-intentioned politician.
Well, even if the holiday in February was politically motivated, as Canadians we do enjoy the day off during this cold month. A day off work for no other reason than to spend time with our families.
If you enjoyed learning about the origin of this day you will also like our post on how Labour Day came to be.
Check it out