Food and Culture History

The History of Labor Day

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Labor Day Stamp USDOL

In North America and Canada, the first Monday in September is Labor Day. The holiday serves as a celebration of workers and commemorates their respective economic and social achievements.

Labor (Labour) Day in Canada has its origins in an 1872 demonstration held by the Toronto Trades Assembly (TTA).  Serving as Canada’s first significant campaign for worker’s rights, the demonstration was created to garner the release of 24 leaders of the Toronto Typographical Union (TTU). During this time, trade unions were illegal and the TTU leaders were imprisoned for striking to campaign for a nine-hour working day.

The TTA held large parades and picnics and received a large public following.  The parades became so empowering that Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald repealed “anti-union” laws and in June of 1874 parliament passed the Trade Unions Act. Contemporary Canadian celebrations of Labor Day consist of picnics, fireworks, trips, and parades.

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