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Canadian Thanksgiving Day confliction?

We are considering a tour of Nova Scotia and then attending the Celtic Colors music festival. As I checked on possible conflicts, I was surprised to see that Canadian Thanksgiving Day (which appears to be a National holiday) falls in the week of the festival. A quick scan of previous postings that mention this subject seems to imply that some shutdown does occur. Surely all those nice folks in Cape Breton wouldn’t invite lots of visitors and then shut everything down for one day to have turkey with the family? How is this handled? What happens to the visitors? Thanks.

Posted by
923 posts

It is a national holiday, but we don’t take it quite as seriously as U.S. Thanksgiving. Businesses are closed, but not retail or restaurants. I’ll share a funny story by way of illustration. My first Thanksgiving in Canada, we drove to visit my new husband’s best friends. We were on the road for 8 hours from Calgary to Kelowna. I thought, this is great! Just like the States! Trains, planes and automobiles, gotta get there no matter what it takes! We arrived, and the next day, ON THANKSGIVING DAY, there was no turkey in sight. His friends casually asked whether I would prefer to go for Indian or Chinese food. I was so crushed, and I’m afraid it showed. On all our future joint Thanksgivings, we cooked all day and had all the proper foods, right down to the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Actually, for many years, I did it in October and November both.

So - Canadians know how to do Thanksgiving “right”, but they find it a bit amusing how all-consuming it is in the U.S. You’ll be fine, you will not starve and the festival will be well attended. Have a great trip!

P.S. I suspect they planned the festival for that weekend specifically because it is a long weekend. Most of the music festivals I’ve been to in Canada have been on long weekends

Posted by
3681 posts

Service industry -- restaurants, etc. -- will be open Thanksgiving Monday. Some retail may open, depending on the province and region. Government services will close, which includes alcohol stores (again depending on the province.) The event is rooted in harvest festivals and the harvest is somewhat earlier in the North, or at least that's my guess. It definitely is not about shopping. Even for avid bargain-hunters, the second week of October must be a little early for discount fever.

Posted by
247 posts

Thanks for the replies. Sounds like we'd have no problems. I did some more searching on my own and ran across this web site www.statutoryholidays.com/2018.php. It lists Statutory Holidays in Canada. Thanksgiving Day is listed as: "National except NB, NS, NL". So, a non-national National holiday? If this is authoritative, I guess its another example of Canadian history that sounds a little bit odd to my American ears. Until recently I had always assumed that at some point in the 1800s, everything north of the border (except Alaska) simply "became" a united and consolidated Canada in one fell swoop. Now that I've spent a little time with actual Canadian history I understand that was not the case, so it is not too difficult to understand how the quirks of history can create nonuniformities. Of course the US is likely full of its own historical quirks and nonuniformities despite being "united". Happy Thanskgivings and safe travels to all who celebrate it in whatever form.

Posted by
779 posts

We have Thanksgiving in New Brunswick, and they do on Nova Scotia too. Its a day off for offices and some stores, but you'll have no trouble. We did the Celtic Festival a few years ago and stayed in Baddeck. Loved it.

Posted by
3932 posts

There is some weirdness on that list - we certainly do observe Remembrance day here in NS - everything is closed (other than the aforementioned restaurants/gas stations...). Canada Day everything is closed here in NS (except gas, etc...) but up in Ontario, I believe retail is open. Ditto Rem Day - we stay closed here, but I think in Ontario stores open up in the afternoon. Victoria Day and the August Civic holiday are a mishmash here in NS - I've worked retail stores that have stayed open, and others that have closed. Retail is also closed in NS on Boxing Day, but many other provinces stores are open.

Anyhoo - you have picked a great time to come up and see the Autumn colours - Thanksgiving weekend is one of the best times to go.

Posted by
27710 posts

When I lived in Canada I always thought the purpose of Cdn Thanksgiving was to watch Toronto or Hamilton win the Grey Cup. No?

Posted by
8293 posts

Yeah, Nigel, in my part of Canada, it’s just a day off work for most people, no huge fuss or travelling hundreds of miles to be with Mum and Dad. I remember visiting a cousin in New Jersey once on American Thanksgiving and was astonished at the amount of food on the table at dinner. Apart from the turkey and ham and other odds and sods, there were 11 vegetables !

Posted by
3932 posts

My purpose on Thanksgiving is to stuff myself with food, then take a nap...lol. No football in this house.

Posted by
148 posts

Nigel - Grey Cup is in November, Canadian Thanksgiving is at the beginning of October. I thought it was the Americans who have all the football games on Thanksgiving?

This year's Grey Cup was here in Ottawa, Nov. 26, it snowed - a lot! - Shania Twain entered the stadium on a dog sled to perform in the half-time show.