The first Monday in August, which is often called “Civic Holiday” or “Simcoe Day” is a municipal holiday* generally observed in Ontario. The holiday is mentioned in a number of Ontario statutes within the context of giving time off for specific types of employees or of regulating business hours, etc. However, because it is not designated as an official public (statutory) holiday in provincial employment standards or retail business holiday legislation, the Civic Holiday is a workday like any other for thousands of Ontario employees. As a result, public (statutory) holiday rules do not apply and the decision to give employees the day off rests with employers. When employees are given the day off, their employers also decide whether it should be a paid holiday.
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The concept of a midsummer holiday for a “day of recreation” in Toronto dates as far back as 1869; the House of Commons in England first established it as a Canadian version of a bank holiday in 1871. In 1875, the Toronto City Council fixed the first Monday in August as a Civic Holiday. The Toronto City Council officially called the civic holiday “Simcoe Day” after John Graves Simcoe, who was appointed the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada on September 12th, 1791. He convened the first legislative assembly and established York (now Toronto) as the capital of the province. Several other Ontario municipalities have chosen to honour a significant local person or organization to help focus the celebration.
*The Municipal Act provides that municipal councils can make by-laws proclaiming a civic holiday and requiring the closing of shops on such a day.