When I was growing up – as opposed to growing old – the 24th of May holiday weekend was a major cause for celebration. It was known as Victoria Day because May 24th was the day that Alexandrina Victoria, future Queen of the United Kingdom and Ireland, Empress of India, was born in 1815. And it was celebrated as such in Her Majesty’s loyal Dominion and after her death became a day of remembrance of the old Queen. Since 1952 it has served double duty as Victoria Day and as the official birthday of our reigning monarch.
In our neighbourhood it was a day for celebration, the first family picnic of the summer, community events, parades, and usually fireworks to end the day. It was a bigger to-do than the first of July, Dominion Day, in most communities. But things have – as they will do – changed over the past twenty odd years. For most people Queen Victoria means a period soap opera on PBS and the birthday our current Queen is largely forgotten in the hectic exodus to cottage country or the floral frenzy at the local garden centre. It is now a holiday for beer, bbq, bugs, and blooms.
And though we are indeed heading to the country for a barbecue today I would still like to salute the Old Queen – oh stop it! You know what I mean! – with a few clips of her that show she did have her lighter side:
And in deference to the horsey tastes of our own beloved Queen I offer this running of a traditional derby – a fine way to celebrate her birthday:
On this day in 1570: The first atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, is published with 70 maps.