It’s that time of year again! Labour Day is our last chance to celebrate the summer. But what actually is the meaning behind Labour Day?
The origins of Canada’s Labour Day can be traced back to April 15, 1872, when the Toronto Trades Assembly organized Canada’s first significant demonstration for worker’s rights. The aim of the demonstration was to release the 24 leaders of the Toronto Typographical Union who were imprisoned for striking to campaign for a nine-hour working day. At this time, trade unions were still illegal and striking was seen as a criminal conspiracy to disrupt trade. In spite of this, the Toronto Trades Assembly was already a significant organization and encouraged workers to form trade unions, mediated in disputes between employers and employees and signaled the mistreatment of workers.
There was enormous public support for the parade and the authorities could no longer deny the important role that the trade unions had to play in the emerging Canadian society. A few months later, a similar parade was organized in Ottawa and passed the house of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John Macdonald. Later in the day, he appeared before the gathering and promised to repeal all Canadian laws against trade unions. This happened in the same year and eventually led to the founding of the Canadian Labour Congress in 1883.
Labour Day was originally celebrated in the spring but it was moved to the fall after 1894. A similar holiday, Labor Day is held on the same day in the United States of America. Canadian trade unions are proud that this holiday was inspired by their efforts to improve workers’ rights. Many countries have a holiday to celebrate workers’ rights on or around May 1.
This would include everyone from plumbers, carpenters, teachers, and yes, even the orthodontic team at Cedarbrae and Danforth Orthodontic Centres!
Labour Day was a great achievement for the country’s labor movement. The Labour movement got its start during the second half of the 1800s. These were the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. During this time, it was normal for laborers to work every day of the week for 12 hours a day. Despite all this work, they weren’t earning enough to live on. Wages were so low that families needed their children to help earn money in the factories! Even worse, the children were paid nothing close to what the adults received. The children also had to work in dangerous environments without enough rest, clean air, or even good bathrooms.
Because of this, workers began creating unions in order to raise wages, shorten hours, and make the factories safer. The unions would often have strikes in order to get businesses to accept their demands. One of the most famous of these strikes happened in Chicago in 1886, during the Haymarket Riot. During the riot, many people, including police officers, lost their lives.
Four years before the Haymarket Riot, workers had put together the first ever Labor Day parade in New York City. During the parade, over 10,000 workers marched together from City Hall to Union Square.
Some still argue about who deserves the credit for Labor Day becoming a national holiday. Some point to Peter J. McGuire, who co-founded the American Federation of Labor. Still…some others feel that Matthew Maguire, secretary of the Central Labor Union, deserves the most credit. No matter who established it, Labor Day has become a big part of American tradition. Modern Labor Day celebrations are chock-full of everything from picnics to fireworks. At Cedarbrae and Danforth Orthodontic Centres we hope that we’ve helped you to see Labor Day as a marker of everything working people have achieved over the last century.
And with that, our office would like to wish all of you a terrific end of summer and a happy Labour Day! Feel free to call Cedarbrae and Danforth Orthodontic Centres at our Toronto or Scarborough ON office with any questions or to schedule an appointment.
And don’t forget the other fun holidays coming along with Labour Day, including:
• National Blueberry Popsicle Day (9/2)
• National Newspaper Carrier Day (9/4)
• National Macadamia Nut Day (9/4)
• National Cheese Pizza Day (9/5)
• National Read A Book Day (9/6)
• National Beer Lovers Day (9/7)
• National Cream Filled Donut Day (9/14)