It is a celebration of Queen Victoria and the current reigning sovereign, but ask many Ottawans about the meaning of Victoria Day, and that’s not the answer you’re going to get.
“It’s just a day to hang out with the family and do some gardening,” said Ottawa resident Danita Midena, who attended the Victoria Day Festival at Queen Juliana Park with her husband and their two children, Luca and Sasha, yesterday.
The rain kept the family inside in the morning, but they ventured out to the park to enjoy the midway rides in the afternoon.
While many perceive yesterday’s holiday purely as a family day, the weekend is also an unofficial kickoff to summer, said Jason Latimer.
“Whatever the weather’s like at this time, it’s still a sign that summer’s here,” he said. “People take the time to go away, go camping.”
The first annual Victoria Day Festival at the park, hosted by the Italian-Canadian Community Centre in Ottawa, focused on family-friendly activities, said festival co-ordinator Gregory Smith.
Thousands of people attended the festival at the park over four days. The festival featured dozens of local musical and entertainment acts and a midway.
“Before this, there was nothing for families here on Victoria Day,” said Smith. “This is about getting family, people together to celebrate.”