By Georgina Alford –

Labour Day, celebrated on the first Monday in September, recognises labour movements across America and Canada. Since 1894, Labour Day has been a statutory holiday, helping to build a working-class identity and allowing time for rest and relaxation outside of the workplace. 

Some historians trace the origins of Labour Day to the Nine Hour Movement in 1872. This was an international phenomenon which aimed to standardize shorter working days. While the movement was initially unsuccessful, it set the foundation for the Canadian Labour Union. Many believe that this movement sparked the beginnings of a unified protest movement. 

As a result of this increased unification between labour organisations and following a labour convention in New York in September 1882, sporadic festivities to celebrate the movement were popularised. The American Federation of Labor (a union of skilled craftsmen established in 1886), and the Knights of Labor (a group aiming to organize workers regardless of qualifications, gender or race founded by garment workers in 1869) actively promoted workers’ celebrations on the first Monday in September. The Canadian chapters of these organisations followed suit and in 1894, Prime Minister Sir John Thompson declared the first Monday in September a national holiday. 

While in the past, Labour Day has been a cause for parades, speeches and competitions across the country, nowadays the only parades are held in Toronto and Ottawa. 

For more about this year’s Labour Day Parade, visit: https://theex.com/main/entertainment/parades/labour-day-parade 

For more things to do this Labour Day weekend in Ontario, visit: https://www.todocanada.ca/50-things-labour-day-weekend-ontario/