By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
Every May, Canadians enjoy a long weekend, often regaled as the unofficial start to the summer. Colloquially known as the May 2-4 weekend, the holiday Monday is named Victoria Day, and on this date, we celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria, the second longest British monarch¹ and the reigning Queen when Canada confederated in 1867.
Victoria was born in 1819 and became Queen in 1837 upon the death of her uncle William IV. In her diary, she wrote:
I was awoke at 6 o’clock by Mamma, who told me the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were here and wished to see me. I got out of bed and went into my sitting-room (only in my dressing gown) and alone, and saw them. Lord Conyngham then acquainted me that my poor Uncle, the King, was no more, and had expired at 12 minutes past 2 this morning, and consequently that I am Queen.
She was married in 1840 to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who was her first cousin. They had nine children together, and currently her descendants occupy the thrones of Belgium,Denmark, Luxemburg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Albert died in 1861, and his death devastated the Queen. She would mourn him for the rest of her life.
While Queen (and later Empress of India), the United Kingdom saw a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change, and there was great expansion of the British Empire. The years of her reign are referred to as the Victorian Era. She passed away in January of 1901.
Victoria was honoured with a street in Oshawa, a short street between Bond and King. It was closed to vehicular traffic in 2010 making it pedestrian friendly to the various students who attend classes at the Regent Theatre and the UOIT building at 55 Bond Street.
We cannot say for sure if the Queen was ‘amused’ by the closure or not…
Her husband, Albert, also has a street in Oshawa named for him, being Albert Street. Albert Street lies east of Simcoe Street, with its north terminus at King Street and its south terminus just south of Bloor Street (connecting eventually with Simcoe as it traverses south-east towards the lake).
Happy Victoria Day from the Oshawa Museum!
¹ In September 2015, Queen Elizabeth II surpassed her great-great grandmother as the longest reigning British monarch. We looked at what was happening in Oshawa when Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952. You can read about that here.