While most Canadians simply view the Labour Day weekend as summer’s last hurrah before the cold weather hits and the school year commences for their kids, there’s actually quite a bit of interesting history behind this holiday that’s often taken for granted. From time to time, it’s important to take a look back at how Canadian Labour Day first began and why we now get to enjoy all of the incredible rewards that were reaped from the labour movement almost 150 years ago. If you are planning a temporary stay in Toronto or the surrounding areas, here’s what you need to know about Labour Day in Toronto.
The History of Canadian Labour Day
Labour Day in Canada as we know it today didn’t always exist. Back in the 1800s, Canadian workers—particularly Toronto printers—had to fight for their right to safer working conditions, better pay, paid vacation days, and days off to take a break from their jobs. Of course, these are all things we take for granted today, but it all started in April 1872, when thousands of workers gathered amid a printers’ strike to march on Queen’s Park in Toronto, demanding a shorter work week. The strike leaders were charged with criminal conspiracy because during that time, union activities were illegal in Canada.
Under the authority of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, the Trade Union Act was passed, and union activities were decriminalized. The strike leaders who were arrested were immediately released thereafter. The first Labor Day took place in the United States on the first Tuesday of September 1882. In 1894, Labour Day was officially made a civic holiday in both Canada and the United States.
Labour Day Celebrations in Canada
Each year there are numerous family-friendly activities that you can partake in with your kids over the long weekend. Canada’s Wonderland is one of the few public venues that puts on extravagant fireworks to celebrate Labour Day. Other attractions for all ages include the Canadian International Air Show at the Canadian National Exhibition (also known as The Ex or CNE). Labour Day also marks the last weekend that families can attend the CNE before it closes its doors for another year.
Most people tend to go up to the cottage for the long weekend. If you’re planning on staying in the city where it all started (Toronto), though, there are tons of awesome places to visit for Labour Day celebrations in Toronto! The Hockey Hall of Fame, the Toronto Zoo, the Ontario Science Centre, Casa Loma, Black Creek Pioneer Village, the Bata Shoe Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the CN Tower will all keep their doors open this weekend. Downsview Park also has its annual Ribfest on Labour Day weekend, or you can check out BuskerFest in Woodbine Park for some fun entertainment. With all of these exciting Labour Day events going on this weekend, there’s no shortage of fun to be had throughout the city!
The annual Labour Day Parade also takes place every year on the first Monday of September in Toronto along Queen Street!
Planning on staying in Toronto for the Labour Day weekend?
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