2021 will occur on Monday, September 6, and is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September and became a statutory holiday in Canada and a Federal holiday in the US both in 1894. Labor Day weekend also symbolizes the end of summer for many Canadians who devote their long weekends to leisure activities and family time while Americans often celebrate with parties, street parades, and athletic events.
So where did it come from?
Adapted from the Canadian Encyclopedia
It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and originated in the first workers’ rallies of the Victorian era. Historically, workers marked the day with various activities. This included parades, speeches, games, amateur competitions, and picnics. The holiday promoted working-class solidarity and belonging during a time of rapid industrialization. Since the Second World War, fewer and fewer people have participated in Labour Day activities.
Until the early 1950s, labor organizations held similar Labour Day celebrations throughout Canada. A cross between politics and pleasure, they still resembled events just like the Victorian-era holidays with unions bringing up their demands and for the many working-class building their identity while allowing time for rest and socializing outside the workplace.
Although parades really declined by 1950, you can still see them hosted in the major cities each year, albeit this year they will be virtual.
Wherever you go and whatever you do this Labour Day make sure to appreciate the men and women who form the labor unions of the hard-working class that continues to build the industrialized and progressive communities we continue to live, work and play in every day. AND- be safe!
Flashback THEN and NOW:
Yonge Street circa 1900
Toronto circa 2008