Is it just a coincidence-or is it fitting- that Family Day immediately follows Valentine’s Day? This Monday, February 15th is Family Day in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, a holiday that was originally created so families could spend time with each other, but also because, let’s face it, we need a break in this bleak month; the last holiday was New Years Day and the next one doesn’t happen until Good Friday. That just won’t do.
Interestingly, Family Day is not a federal statutory holiday- all federal workers and public servants have to work- and it is celebrated throughout the country under different names, and different dates as well. For example, Family day was last Monday in British Columbia, and the day is known as Islander Day in PEI, Nova Scotia Heritage Day, and Louis Riel Day in Manitoba. And in Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador as well as New Brunswick and the Territories, it is a Monday like any other winter Monday.
But in Toronto, Family Day is a big deal, with lots of activities planned around the city to help you spend time with the family, to get out and about in the city and make friends with winter.Toronto is blessed with upwards of fifteen hundred parks that occupy eight thousand hectares-thirteen percent of the land area in the city. You might think that these city parks remain dormant over the frozen winter, but the reality is quite the opposite. Each winter brings thousands of outdoor enthusiasts to our parks to indulge in that most Canadian of activities, skating.
For many, city residents and tourists alike, winter in Toronto is just not complete without a skate at Nathan Phillips Square in front of City Hall, where folks have been lacing them up for generations. But it’s not just City Hall that has a great rink; all over Toronto there are rinks where you can have a family skate, or pick-up games of shinny, or participate in more organized hockey leagues, or where anyone from the wee ones to the ancients can sign up for skating lessons. Here is a great list of city rinks that will be open on Family Day, and most of the rest of the season. On a related note, the Harbourfront Centre hosts free skating nights every Saturday night at the beautiful Natrel Rink, with local and international DJ’s pumping out the beats that will keep your legs moving so tomorrow night or next Saturday you might want to sharpen your skates and head on down.
For those families that prefer their activities to be less athletically charged, the TIFF Bell Lightbox has an awesome day of film programming and activities for the whole family and The Art Gallery of Ontario is transforming into the Kids Gallery of Ontario for the day. With so many options to spend a little quality time with the family, you might have difficulty choosing, but whatever you decide, dress warmly, and if you’re driving, drive carefully, it’s going to be a busy day!