THIS IS THE B.C. DAY long weekend. It’s B.C. Day on Monday, though nobody knows why.
Mostly, it seemed like a good idea at the time. We were feeling, back in 1974, as though we could use an extra day off in August, so adding a statutory holiday and calling it B.C. Day was the best we could come up with.
We have other holidays nobody knows the reasons for, like Family Day and Victoria Day, so one more doesn’t matter.
Other provinces also have August “stats,” as we call them, but they sensibly don’t call them B.C. Day. In Alberta they call it Heritage Day. New Brunswick has a New Brunswick Day, Saskatchewan has a Saskatchewan Day and Nova Scotia celebrates Natal Day.
In Ontario, they can’t even agree from one town to the next what to call it. Ontario calls it Simcoe Day. In Ottawa it’s Colonel By Day, in Hamilton it’s George Hamilton Day (I presume, after the actor with the sun tan but I can’t verify that). In Burlington it’s Joseph Brant day, in Guelph it’s John Galt Day and on and on.
I don’t see why, in B.C., we all have to call it B.C. Day. We should be able to call it Flying Phil Gaglardi Day, or Boris Karloff Day if we want.
Every Canada Day, we like to celebrate famous Canadian people and things we’ve invented. We like to mention Pamela Anderson on Canada Day, so she’s worth bringing up on B.C. Day, too, since she was born in Ladysmith.
Lots of people were born in B.C. besides her. Michael J. Fox, for example, and Margo Kidder, Michael Buble, Terry Fox, Diana Krall, Mark Recchi and Amor de Cosmos.
Amor de Cosmos is famous mostly for his name (although he was also premier during the 1870s), which he made up. His real name was William Alexander Smith but he didn’t want to go through life being called Bill Smith, a forgettable name if ever there was one.
So, he changed it to Amor de Cosmos, which loosely translates to Lover of the Universe.
A place is often defined by its laws. In Kamloops, a beer garden can legally refuse a drink to a 67-year-old if she doesn’t have ID proving how old she is, as we discovered on Canada Day.
But then, it used to be illegal in B.C. for women of any age to walk into a bar without a man, and even then they had to make sure they entered the door with a sign above it that said “Women and Escorts.” (I remember that, though I was too young to drink at the time. I am not, however, old enough to remember Prohibition.)
According to a book called Weird British Columbia Laws, it was illegal from 1947 to 1986 to sell stoves on a Wednesday in Vancouver.
Kelowna once allowed nude bathing in public waters between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Like, when it was dark. Trust Kelowna to do something like that. In Penticton, isn’t it the law that you must be nude to swim in public?
Speaking of doing things in the dark, the switch from driving on the left side of the road to the right side was made at 2 a.m. Jan. 1, 1922. That would have been a good time to stay home.
In Oak Bay, it’s illegal to have a noisy parrot.
As for B.C. inventions, Triple O Sauce and Nanaimo bars come to mind.
If you’re from Toronto, cover your ears — the centre of the universe is not TO, but a spot near Vidette Lake in the Deadman Valley not far from Savona. Tibetan monks figured it out in 1980. It doesn’t matter why they think that, only that they do, and that’s good enough for us.
I was there a long time ago and didn’t notice anything different about it and didn’t feel spiritual at all. Mostly I felt cold, being it was the middle of winter.
Happy B.C. Day.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.