Friday, August 31, 2012

Labour Day

Sleeping Newsboy - Toronto {pre 1890}                via

Labour Day is celebrated around the world at different times of the year. 
This is the Labour Day weekend in Canada and the United States (American spelling : Labor). 

It was back in December of 1872 that a parade was staged in respect of the Toronto Typographical Union, who had been on strike for ten months. The unions fight at that time was to reduce the work week to 58 hours. Twenty-seven trades as a part of the Toronto Trades Assembly demonstrated to support the strikers. Outdated and abolished laws criminalizing union activity were still on the books in Canada, and police were encouraged by George Brown {local politician & editor of the Toronto Globe newspaper} to arrest strikers.

It was September 3rd, 1872 that Labour Leaders protested the arrests thus marking the date for what is now known as Labour Day. Under Prime Minister John A. Macdonald the Trade Union Act was passed the following June and soon other trade unions began to seek a 54 hour work week.

Factory workers 1938                          via

Labour Day in Canada has been celebrated since the early 1880's. It was after the co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, Peter J. McGuire, visited Toronto to speak at a Labour Day parade that similar parades were organized in the United States. It was the same year that Prime Minister John Thompson made Labour Day an official holiday in Canada that President Grover Cleveland adopted the annual event.

image: Lewis Wickes Hine 1931

image: Lewis Wickes Hine

The two pictures above are of men working on the Empire State Building in 1931. Notice that they are not wearing safety footwear, safety hats or guard belts to protect them. Labour movements and unions have worked over the years for fair work and safety standards for all workers. If you are in a safe working environment today you can thank those who drove the labour movement of yesterday. If you are not in a safe environment it is your legal right to be.

Eight Hours of Work. Eight Hours of Rest. Eight Hours of Recreation.

Wishing you a safe and happy Labour Day.



  1. Hi Katherine
    I just stumbled across your blog and great timing as I am now informed about 'labour day' which I wasn't familiar with.
    Great post, thanks for sharing and looking forward to reading more of your interesting blog!
    Have a great weekend!
    Fiona xx

  2. I absolutely love those vintage photos! I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

  3. Let me know when you post on your reno - I'd love to see it. Your blog banner is gorgeous!

  4. Oh my goodness.. those photos are fabulous! Love the factory workers!