Copyright 2000 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.
The Toronto Star
May 20, 2000, Saturday, Edition 1
LENGTH: 552 words
HEADLINE: RETHINKING THE TRIBUTE
to the woman in black
It's a cool Thursday night and a few patrons sit inside a Bloor St. bar, gulping Guinness and shoving frites into their mouths.
A ruby-lipped waitress leaves their table, glides over to me. I order a rum and Coke. But what I really want to do is ask her this: ''Just what does Victoria Day mean to you?"
Okay, so it never actually crossed my mind. But let's just assume I asked her. About Victoria Day.
About its cultural significance. About its layered, rich history and gnawing relevance to Canadians today.
This is how she would have responded: with a blank stare. Maybe some head- scratching. Possibly blurt out some drivel about, ''The May 2-4."
Ditto from the others in the bar. Ditto from just about everybody I know and, just guessing here, but probably most of the people you know.
So why do we still celebrate Victoria Day? Isn't it time to sever this anachronistic link to our past?
Isn't it time we lumbered out from under the threadbare fabric of long-gone British rule to embrace something - anything - that is, well, Canadian?
Queen Victoria ruled Great Britain and the rest of her vast colonial empire from 1837 to her death in 1901. She encouraged Confederation, even helped John A. Macdonald.
Her name appears more than 300 times on Canadian geographical features, not including cities and towns. Her birthday, May 24, was declared a holiday in 1845. You know the rest.
But what on earth does all this have to do with Canada, circa 2000?
The Victoria Day long weekend has become synonymous with barbecues and cottages, firecrackers and fairs, concerts and camping . . . everything except Queen Victoria.
Rule Britannia? Please. Let's end this royal charade in 2001, 100 years after her death.
Then replace Victoria Day with another holiday.
Herewith some suggestions:
Znaimer Day. Everybody celebrates by wandering around the city with video cameras and giant cut-outs of Moses Znaimer. On Monday night, cultural luminaries from across the country stand atop the Citytv building and field questions about Marshall McLuhan.
Trudeau Day. A national holiday to celebrate the man who opened the immigration door and helped create glib newspaper idiots who brazenly call for an end to cherished and auspicious events like Victoria Day.
Clarkson Day. On this day, people unite and congregate inside remodeled kitchens where spontaneous marriage ceremonies are held. One lucky bride celebrates by marrying a postmodern philosopher.
Lastman Day. Folks launch firecrackers from the heads of people with hair transplants. Stores open for one hour, at high noon, to sell large appliances.
Campbell Day. People flock to the streets and chant ''Kim, Kim, Kim," but nobody really cares. This holiday is short-lived.
And since this Victoria Day falls on May 22, why not also celebrate the birthdays of others? Like Sir Laurence Olivier (born 1907), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (born 1859), or even supermodel Naomi Campbell (after all, she was born in London in 1970).
If you're still wondering why it's appropriate to explode Victoria Day, consider another birthday boy celebrating this Monday:
Theodore Kaczynski, a.k.a. the Unabomber.
Reach Vinay Menon by E-mail at: email@example.com GRAPHIC: BETTMAN ARCHIVES THINK OF THE EMPIRE: Queen Victoria poses with two of her grandchildren in 1881.