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Discovery Day in Canada

Discovery Day is celebrated in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador on the nearest Monday to June 24. It is also known as Cabot 500 Day and remembers Giovanni Caboto’s (also known as John Cabot) discovery of the province’s island portion. This day is not to be confused with Yukon’s Discovery Day, which is also known as Klondike Gold Discovery Day.

Is Discovery Day a Public Holiday?

Discovery Day is a public holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

A quiet out-of-town spot in Newfoundland for holidays like Discovery Day.

©iStockphoto.com/brytta

What Do People Do?

Newfoundland and Labrador celebrates its Discovery Day on the Monday closest to June 24. Many communities choose to hold their own celebrations but it is in Bonavista where many events take place. Some people may visit the Matthew legacy site during this period. Other attractions at the day’s celebrations in Bonavista in recent times included the “Kids Walking Parade”, talent shows, and a motorcade involving more than 100 cars.

The city of St John’s in the province celebrates its birthday, known as St John’s Days around this time of the year. Celebratory events include outdoor concerts, historical characters, and various art and cultural activities. Various sources have claimed that St John’s is the oldest English-founded city in North America.

Public Life

Discovery Day is a paid holiday for government employees in Newfoundland and Labrador. School calendars in the province are set by individual school districts so those wishing to find out if Discovery Day is a school holiday should check with these districts.

People driving to major events on Discovery Day may need to plan early to avoid traffic. Those who are uncertain about the transport schedule on Discovery Day can to contact local transport services prior to travelling.

Background

Discovery Day in Newfoundland and Labrador commemorates Giovanni Caboto’s (also known as John Cabot) discovery of the province’s island portion in 1497. It has been celebrated since 1997 – the 500th anniversary of the discovery. Cabot left Europe on May 20, 1497, aboard his vessel, the Matthew. It was a small ship, but reportedly fast and able. The crew consisted of 18 people. He reported landed near present-day Bonavista on June 24, 1497, and departed on or around July 20 that year.

Symbols

The Matthew legacy site is a tourist attraction in Bonavista, in Newfoundland and Labrador. John Cabot sailed on the vessel, which was named after his wife Mattea, when he reached Canada in 1497. A replica was built in Bristol, in the United Kingdom, in 1996 before sailing, repeating Cabot’s original journey, to Bonavista in 1997. It carried the same number of crew members as the original and took the same amount of time to complete the journey.  This replica has since returned to Bristol.

Discovery Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010MonJun 21Discovery DayLocal holidayNewfoundland and Labrador
2011MonJun 27Discovery DayLocal holidayNewfoundland and Labrador
2012MonJun 25Discovery DayLocal holidayNewfoundland and Labrador
2013MonJun 24Discovery DayLocal holidayNewfoundland and Labrador
2014MonJun 23Discovery DayLocal holidayNewfoundland and Labrador
2015MonJun 22Discovery DayLocal holidayNewfoundland and Labrador
2016MonJun 27Discovery DayLocal holidayNewfoundland and Labrador
2017MonJun 26Discovery DayLocal holidayNewfoundland and Labrador
2018MonJun 25Discovery DayLocal holidayNewfoundland and Labrador
2019MonJun 24Discovery DayLocal holidayNewfoundland and Labrador
2020MonJun 22Discovery DayLocal holidayNewfoundland and Labrador

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