British Columbia Day
In British Columbia many people use the long weekend to make short trips out of town and into one of the areas of beautiful scenery in this province. Some go camping, while others walk, hike or plan canoe trips. As the first Monday in August falls in the middle of the summer season, many people incorporate BC Day into their summer vacation or a plan it as part of a longer trip. In urban areas, particularly in Vancouver, various celebrations are organized. These include firework displays, parades and cultural festivals. Events are held to mark the achievements of people from Canada’s west coast in the areas of sport, technology, cuisine and Canadian-Japanese culture.
BC Day is a statutory holiday in British Columbia and many people have a day off work. Post offices and many businesses and organizations, such as libraries, are closed. A few stores may be open depending on the local custom. Public transport services may be reduced or may not run at all. Schools are closed as the first Monday in August falls in the middle of the summer holiday period.
Indigenous peoples have inhabited British Columbia, as described in their oral traditions. There are claims by the English to have explored the region in the 16th century, but it was the Majorcan-born Spanish navigator Juan José Pérez Hernández who did the first documented travel 1774. In 1778 English explorer James Cook reached Nootka Sound and set foot on British Columbian soil. There were several gold finds in British Columbia in the 1850s. The British colonial office responded to this situation by establishing British Columbia’s mainland as a crown colony in 1858, naming it the Colony of British Columbia. In 1871 British Columbia became the sixth province of the Dominion of Canada.
The British Columbia Day Act was first introduced to the Legislative Assembly in 1974. The aim of the Bill was to create a statutory holiday on the first Monday in August to recognize the pioneers in the province and the act gained royal assent in 1996.
There are a number of symbols of British Columbia. These include the Steller's Jay (a bird), the Pacific Dogwood (a flower), jade (a mineral), the Western Red Cedar (a tree) and the provincial tartan, which contains colors to represent many aspects of the province. Two important symbols of British Columbia are the flag and the coat of arms. The top part of the flag consists of a union flag with a crown in the center. These represent the colonial links with the country and monarch of the United Kingdom. The lower part of the flag consists of a setting sun on a background of blue and white waves. These represent the geographical location of the province on the west coast of Canada between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. These elements also appear in the coat of arms.