If it is a holiday, why is it called Labour Day?

Trent Ernst, Editor


It’s one of those sweet ironies of life.

The last holiday before school starts, the last chance to get out with the family and relax, go for a picnic, go camping, toss around the football. This last grasp at the lazy days of summer, and it’s called Labour Day?

The meaning behind the holiday sometimes gets lost as parents celebrate and children mourn the end of summer.

Even though it’s still technically summer for nearly another month, the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder and the trees have already started to take on a yellowish tinge, especially here in the north.

While the three-day weekend means little to the miners who labour seven on and seven off, Labour day has become a time of transition. Before Labour Day, it is summer. After Labour day…? Well, despite twenty more days or so before the autumn equinox, it’s is now fall.

For those of us bound to the more traditional five and two work schedule, the extra day gives us a chance to roam farther afield. The usual trip to Gwillim or Stoney Lake might become a trip to Moberly or Charlie Lake or even a couple days in Edmonton.

Yet there is a great deal of meaning behind this special event, which we all celebrate on the first Monday of September.

So as you are sitting there in your camp chair by the fire, or as you relax in that hotel or as you enjoy the fact that you’re making double time today, take the time to remember that without the efforts and sacrifices of the labour movement to improve working conditions during the 1880s and 90s, this holiday would not exist. Without that movement, there might not be such a strong emphasis on safety.

That movement was born in big cities such as Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, but grew to encompass the entire Canadian working class and became the holiday that we know today.

And while we relax and revel in the hard-earned fruits of our labour, let’s be thankful for the men and women who have gone before us and helped make Canada one of the best places in the world to work.