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The Origin of Family Day

Family Day is a public holiday in 5 provinces and territories. It is a day off for the general population, and most businesses & schools are closed.

Alberta was the only province to implement Family Day as a statutory holiday in February until Saskatchewan began observing it in 2007. The holiday was later introduced in Saskatchewan in 2007 and in Ontario in 2008. British Columbia observed Family Day as a statutory holiday for the first time in 2013, and New Brunswick in 2018.

Family Values

Family Day was first held in Alberta in 1990. It was originally proposed by the province’s former premier, Don Getty after his son was arrested on a serious charge. Although Getty disputes the claim, it is believed that this episode motivated him to establish the day in an effort to counteract what he saw as the erosion of family values in Canadian society.

Family Day is meant to reflect the values of family and home that were so very important to the original pioneer families who braved the wilds of western Canada and founded the province of Alberta. It is also intended to give workers an opportunity to spend more time at home with their families.


On Family Day, many people prefer to stay home and enjoy the warm company of their families and spend some valuable quality time together playing board games, and taking part in craft activities.

Others enjoy taking part in activities outside the home. Going to the movies, skating on outdoor ice rinks are popular options. Many communities plan special public events that offer free fun for families on this day. Art galleries and museums may have reduced price or free entry.

As the weather is usually very cold in February, hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies are popular snacks. Other people use the long weekend as an opportunity for a short winter break, or to visit family members or friends who may not live close by.

Family Day falls on the same date as National Heritage Day (except in British Columbia), and some families use the day to explore their personal heritage and family history.

No matter what families choose to do, the important thing is that they take this day as an opportunity to spend valuable quality time with the people who they love most.

Family day is also a great day for giving gifts to show your family your affection and appreciation. Gourmet gift baskets are a great gift idea that the whole family can enjoy!


In the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and New Brunswick. Schools and many businesses (with the exception of some gas stations and restaurants) are closed on Family Day, but post offices may be open. Public transport services tend to run on normal schedules, although in some areas, transit may be limited by amended holiday schedules.

February Holidays in Other Provinces


In February 2007, the Manitoba government floated the idea of a February holiday. Legislation proclaiming the third Monday in February as a holiday was passed by Manitoba’s Legislative Assembly on April 17, 2007, and first celebrated February 18, 2008.

The day is known as Louis Riel Day, a name suggested by Manitoba school students, in honour of Louis Riel, the Métis leader who led the fight to maintain aboriginal rights.

Nova Scotia

After the election of Nova Scotia Liberal Party in 2013, its leader Stephen McNeil introduced a plan to create a February statutory holiday in Nova Scotia. In December 2013 the government introduced a bill to create a holiday on the third Monday in February, starting in 2015.

The permanent name for the holiday, Nova Scotia Heritage Day, was announced on June 26, 2014. Each year it will honour a different person, the first was Viola Desmond. The first 12 years honorees (2015 – 2026) were chosen by a three-member government-appointed panel from the suggestions of Nova Scotian school children. Other days will recognize Mi’kmaq heritage, Africville, and a number of other notable figures in Canadian history.

Yukon Territory

In Yukon, Yukon Heritage Day is a holiday observed on the Friday before the last Sunday of February. Although the government and many businesses are closed on this day, it is not a statutory holiday.


Family Day is a great opportunity to spend more time with the people we love. It is a great day to give gifts and enjoy the warm feeling of comfort that family can bring. No matter where you live, it’s important to nourish the bond between families of any size or configuration, and let those who we care about, know so.