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Discovery Day in Canada

Yukon’s Discovery Day is celebrated in territory of Yukon, Canada, on the third Monday of August. Also Klondike Gold Discovery Day, it commemorates the anniversary of the discovery of gold in Yukon. It differs from Newfoundland and Labrador’s Discovery Day, also known as Cabot 500 Day.

Is Discovery Day a Public Holiday?

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

Discovery Day Canada

Discovery Day is a statutory holiday in Yukon, where the Klondike gold rush took place.

©iStockphoto.com/Natalia Bratslavsky

What Do People Do?

Unlike many other parts of Canada where people celebrate a civic holiday on the first Monday of August, Yukon celebrates its holiday, Discovery Day, on the third Monday of August. Discovery Day activities are held throughout the territory in places such as Watson Lake, which is known as the “gateway to Yukon recreation”, and Whitehorse, which is Yukon’s capital.

Discovery Day is celebrated in Dawson City, the heart of the Klondike gold rush, every year to recognize the discovery of gold in Bonanza Creek in 1896. Discovery Day is the main theme behind various events in the city at this time. These events include family days, fun runs, golf tournaments, and festivals. Discovery Day is also a time for people visiting Dawson City to watch a historical street theatre, and photograph Mounties (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) in their uniform.

Public Life

Discovery Day is a statutory holiday in Yukon so many government offices and schools are closed. Post offices in Yukon are closed so there is no regular collection or delivery of mail. However, private sector postal and delivery businesses may be open.

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

The history of Yukon’s Discovery Day can be traced back to when George Washington Carmack discovered gold at Bonanza Creek, Yukon, on August 17, 1896. His discovery triggered a gold rush involving many miners and traders in North America. More than 30,000 people poured into the Klondike region over the next couple of years, sparking the formation of Dawson and the construction of the Yukon narrow-gage railway. But the Klondike boom was short-lived and many miners were replaced by companies using mechanical mining techniques early in the 20th century.

After the gold rush, the Yukon Order of Pioneers persuaded Yukon’s Territorial Council to celebrate Discovery Day as a public holiday in 1911. In the following year, the holiday was a big event celebrated with a parade, speeches, a sports day, balloons, refreshments, a football match and a dance, among other activities.

o this day, mining is still an important industry in Yukon and Discovery Day is celebrated across the territory. This gold discovery also contributed towards the establishment of Yukon as a territory. Discovery Day in Yukon is not to be confused with Discovery Day in Newfoundland and Labrador on the Monday nearest June 24 each year.

Symbols

The Yukon flag, which may be seen on Discovery Day, was adopted by the Territorial Council in 1967. The flag is made up of three vertical panels. The green panel on the staff side symbolizes the forests and the white in the centre represents the snow, while the deep blue on the fly side represents the Yukon’s rivers and lakes. The centre panel features the territorial coat of arms and floral emblem, the fireweed. Other territorial symbols: the fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) as the floral emblem; the Subalpine Fir (tree); the raven (bird); lazulite (gemstone); and the Francophone community in the Yukon flag.

Discovery Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010MonAug 16Discovery DayLocal holidayYukon
2011MonAug 15Discovery DayLocal holidayYukon
2012MonAug 20Discovery DayLocal holidayYukon
2013MonAug 19Discovery DayLocal holidayYukon
2014MonAug 18Discovery DayLocal holidayYukon
2015MonAug 17Discovery DayLocal holidayYukon
2016MonAug 15Discovery DayLocal holidayYukon
2017MonAug 21Discovery DayLocal holidayYukon
2018MonAug 20Discovery DayLocal holidayYukon
2019MonAug 19Discovery DayLocal holidayYukon
2020MonAug 17Discovery DayLocal holidayYukon

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