EDUCATION | INSTITUTION HIGHLIGHTS

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Why Do We Celebrate Labour Day in Canada?

BY

Labour Day is celebrated annually on the first Monday of September. A holiday created to celebrate labourers, it is often recognized as the last holiday of the summer. Labour Day is a statutory holiday in Canada, meaning a day off of work for most people. It is also the last day before school starts, making it a great opportunity for an end-of-summer bash!

The silhouette of two people watching fireworks.

Where it started?

Labour Day was born out of worker’s rallies in the Victorian era. During a time of rapid industrialization and societal changes, the holiday was an opportunity for workers to hold parades, rallies, games, and picnics. As the movement gained popularity and swept across the nation, labour organizations encouraged the governments to declare the first Monday of September a statutory holiday. The federal government was convinced, and Canada celebrated their first official national Labour Day in 1894!

Until the 1950s, Labour Day was celebrated across the nation with great fanfare. Parades were a mainstay, but the celebrations were also a time for unions to voice their demands.

As industries evolved, so did the labour force. Many of the traditional hallmarks of Labour Day began to fizzle out as the events represented fewer people. While the day has remained a holiday, and many unions do still organize events, it’s has become a popular day for leisure.

A woman in a hat and sunglasses waves a Canadian flag.

What to expect on Labour Day

On Labour Day, you can expect the most shops to be shut in Canada, including retail and banks. As the last big hurray before fall, you may find restaurants and attractions are open.

How can I celebrate Labour Day

If you’d like to support your labour union, formal parades are organized in Toronto and Ottawa each year. You may find events in your local area as well.

Leisure Activities

If you’re seeking to make the most of the last long summer weekend, here are some great actives to consider.

Friends lounging on pool floaties.

Picnic

The great Canadian picnic is always a popular choice for Labour Day. In the event that the weather is good, many families and friends enjoy gathering for a shared meal at the park, beach, or by the lake. Canadian picnics often include barbecues, fresh fruit, drinks, and dessert. A picnic is a fun and affordable way to enjoy friends, food, and nature!

A birds eye view of four friends having a picnic. They sit on a white and blue stripped blanket. There are paper take-away boxes of food and a square picnic basket with a red plate, two red cups and cutlery.

Hiking

Hiking will always remain a Canadian favorite. No matter where you are in Canada you are likely to find stunning trails at various levels. Take a great last hike of the summer! Even if it’s your first.

Two women smile at each other while walking through the forest on a hike

Take a Break

As a long weekend, meaning no work on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Labour Day weekend can be a wonderful opportunity for a short trip. Whether you’d like to enjoy the last of warm weather camping, a stay in cottage country or a city trip these three days are a perfect chance to usher in fall with an adventure.

A woman wearing a red gown is having breakfast in bed.

Football!

This year, the CFL Labour Day Classic returns! After a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, this long-standing tradition is back. The Labour Day Classic began in 1949, well before the Canadian Football League had officially formed! The weekend line-up of games features matches between long-standing rivalries. Sports lovers, this is an event not to be missed!

A sit on the sofa watching TV.

Relaxation and Preparation

However you chose to spend your Labour Day, we hope to make the most of the celebrating the end of summer and the hard work of the generations that came before us.

Sources: HistoryofLabourDay ToDoOnLabourDay StatutoryHolidayLabourDay WhatToExpectLabourDay CFLSchedule LabourDayClassic

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