Victoria Day: Canada’s quest for critical minerals crown

The early settlers in Canada during the 15th century produced a limited number of materials for use locally. Among the main minerals used at the time were brick clay, building stone, sand and gravel, as well as lime for mortar and plaster, among others.

Yet it’s an iron mine at Forges du Saint-Maurice near Trois-Rivières in Québec – which remained as a going concern from 1738 to 1883 – that is chiefly remembered as the first truly industrial mining operation in what is now modern day Canada.

The operation at Forges du Saint-Maurice is credited for forming the country’s first heavy industry. A century after the iron ore mine first began operations, Queen Victoria (1837-1901) started her royal reign.

Monday 20 May 2024 celebrates the Sovereign’s birthday in Canada on what is called Victoria Day.

May Twenty Four mining series

To kick off this year’s Victoria Day celebrations is publishing a feature series titled The May Twenty Four.

The five-part weeklong series details the four main mining provinces in Canada in terms of mineral production – Ontario, Québec, Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as British Columbia.

The series will traverse 1000s of clicks of the second largest country by area to uncover what each region offers. Readers can sit back on their Muskoka chair with a double-double or even a two-four, as we explore everywhere from the 6ix to The Rock.

Mineral-rich and expansive, Canada is a mining nation and like Australia it’s well-endowed with metals and critical minerals that are essential for the global energy transition.

When Canada’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson attended PDAC 2024 in March, he was quick to detail how the move toward a global net zero economy is significantly increasing demand for critical minerals and the clean technologies they enable around the world.

This in turn is creating a generational opportunity for Canadian workers and businesses. He went on to outline how concurrent geopolitical dynamics have caused Canada and other like-minded countries to reflect on the need to have stable and secure supplies of these resources and technologies and to produce them in a way that advances climate and nature goals.

Wilkinson noted Canada’s progress under the C$3.8 billion Critical Minerals Strategy in a quest to take the crown in the global push for critical minerals, and explained the challenges in the sustainable development of the country’s mineral wealth.

“Critical minerals are not just the building blocks of clean technology like solar panels and electric vehicle batteries — they are a key ingredient for creating economic opportunities for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses,” he told those at PDAC.

On Monday May 20 starting on Victoria Day, part one will be covering the country’s rich natural resources endowment and Canada’s quest for critical minerals royalty status.

Victoria Day was declared a federal holiday by the Legislature of the Province of Canada in 1845.

After Confederation, Queen Victoria’s birthday was celebrated every year on May 24 unless that date was a Sunday, in which a proclamation was issued providing for the celebration to be held on May 25.

When Queen Victoria died on 22 January 1901, parliament officially named the holiday Victoria Day.

It was decreed the celebrations would then be held on the second last Monday in May, which in 2024 is tomorrow.

In those early days over 100 years ago, celebrations included parades, picnics, sporting tournaments, fireworks displays, and cannon salutes.

In modern day Canada, a common moniker for Victoria Day is May Two-Four – a double-entendre. It’s not just a reference to the date of the celebration – it’s also slang for the way many enjoy the day coinciding with the size of a case of beer – 24 bottles strong.

In this spirit, The May Twenty Four series will discover how through four provinces in particular, mining is a major contributor to the country’s national economy in which it contributes about C$125 billion to its GDP and is responsible for almost 25% of total domestic exports.

It’s an industry that directly and indirectly employs 665,000. Fill your boots!

Write to Adam Orlando at

Images: Clean Air Metals & Unsplash 
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Written By Adam Orlando Editor-in-Chief Adam Orlando has more than 20 years’ experience in the media having held senior roles at various publications, including as Asia-Pacific Sector Head (Mining) at global newswire Acuris (formerly Mergermarket). Orlando has worked in newsrooms around the world including Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Sydney.