Why we celebrate Simcoe Day

This Monday August 3rd is Simcoe Day. This day, also known as the Civic Holiday, takes place on the first Monday in August. It is named in honour of John Graves Simcoe, who was the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. He was born in 1752 in Britain and died in 1806. He was a British army officer that fought in the American Revolutionary War. During this war he became a Major and commanded the Queen’s Rangers, an elite British military force. Eventually, in battle he was injured and returned to Britain as a lieutenant-colonel. He then, married and served in British Parliament before being sent to Upper Canada as Lieutenant Governor. He was also an important abolitionist.

Simcoe started the abolishment of slavery in Canada. He proposed a bill to end slavery, however, he was met with much objection from the members of the legislative assembly as many of them owned slaves. This lead to a compromise act, the Upper Canada Act of 1793 Against Slavery, which was the first legislation in the British Empire against slavery. This piece of legislation still allowed people to own slaves; however, they were not allowed to purchase new ones from the United States. Babies born to slaves after the act was passed would become free at the age of 25 as well. Later Britain passed the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833, which put an end to slavery in most parts of the British Empire including Canada.

To learn more about Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe or Canadian History please see our reading lists.

Canadian History

A list of Canadian History books.

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Indigenous Peoples' History

A collection of eBooks to learn more about Indigenous Peoples' culture and history.

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