Family Day is celebrated on the second or third Monday of every February, depending on the province in which you live. Though not an official national holiday, the event is celebrated far and wide across the country, with dozens of family festivals and things to do organized each year in the provinces where it’s observed: New Brunswick, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia.
The holiday has become a staple in areas across Canada, but when exactly did it begin — and why do we celebrate it now? Take a closer look at how Family Day got started in Canada, and see our suggestions for a fun celebration with your family this year.
Why Do We Celebrate Family Day?
Family Day is a time set aside to focus on getting closer to your loved ones. It was scheduled to fall between New Year’s Day and Good Friday in order to grant another day off between these celebrations. In Ontario, the government established Family Day in order to give hard-working individuals more time with their loved ones. Though only a few Provinces formally celebrate it and only non-federal employees usually get the day off, it’s a wonderful bonding time for families in participating areas.
Family Day’s Origins
Family Day got its start in Alberta when Helen Hunley — the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta — passed the Family Day Act in 1990. This officially established the third Monday of every February as Alberta Family Day. Other Provinces adopted the holiday over the next two decades. Saskatchewan founded “Family Days” in 2007, and Ontario followed suit in 2008 and British Columbia in 2013. British Columbia is the only Province that celebrates the event on the second Monday of the month instead of the third.
New Brunswick and Manitoba have similar events — Islander Day on Prince Edward Island and Louis Riel Day in Manitoba — and Yukon and Nova Scotia both have a respective Heritage Day. All of these celebrations are held on the third Monday of February. Though the remaining Provinces don’t celebrate the event, it’s widely acknowledged in Canada and could become a public holiday in the future.
Though some parts of Canada only give non-federal employees the day off, government workers in a few Provinces are entitled to take the day to spend with their families. Per the Employment Standards Act, for example, qualifying Ontarians can enjoy a minimum of nine public holidays with public holiday pay per year.
Family Day Events and Things to Do in British Columbia
If you’re privileged to have the day off and your children don’t have to go to school, Family Day is a wonderful opportunity to explore British Columbia’s beautiful and fun activities. Some recommendations include:
- Make a day trip to Vancouver Island: If you live close enough for an easy day trip, go explore Vancouver Island. It has incredibly lush terrain packed with spots for hiking and camping.
- Take advantage of free skating on Family Day: Some local rinks in British Columbia will host a free skating day to celebrate the holiday. Many other free activities typically occur on the holiday.
- Visit a museum, gallery, or public attraction: Many public attractions stay open on Family Day, meaning it’s the perfect opportunity to go to a park or museum. Try the Royal BC Museum or the Museum of Anthropology.
- Go to Whistler Blackcomb: This ski resort in Whistler is offering 50 percent off the cost of full-day lift tickets for British Columbia residents on Family Day.
In addition to these family-focused activities, there are also plenty of official Family Day community events that will take place throughout British Columbia. Consider attending one of these this year:
- Family Day Geocache Hunt in Surrey: If you’ve never tried geocaching, now’s the time to see why it’s so popular. Attend the GPS-led treasure hunt in Surrey — you just need to register your family for the event.
- Family Day Scavenger Hunt at Langley Centennial Museum: If you like the idea of a treasure hunt but Surrey is too far away, try this event in Aldergrove. The treasure hunt takes place throughout the museum, so your children will learn lots about the area’s history while they explore. Snacks will be available, and some family-themed arts and crafts are also planned.
- Family Day at The Port Moody Museum: Port Moody Museum is hosting a “working on the railroad” event from 10 to 2 p.m. Before or after this event, you can check out the museum’s many exhibits celebrating the heritage and history of British Columbia.
- Family Day at The ACT Theatre in Maple Ridge: Children’s entertainer Rick Scott will host a performance that combines music, storytelling, and humor. If you have young kids, they’ll love the show and the other free events at The ACT Theatre that are scheduled from 11 to 3 p.m.
Take advantage of this wonderful time of year to reinforce your family bonds. With so many free community events and spots to visit, you should have no trouble filling out your Family Day itinerary.