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Labour Day
Major holiday before thisCanada Day
Major holiday after thisThanksgiving Day

Labour Day 2019 and 2020

Labour Day is celebrated annually on the first Monday of September in Canada.

Year Date Day Holiday Provinces and Territories
2019 2 Sep Mon Labour Day National
2020 7 Sep Mon Labour Day National

The origins of the Canadian Labour day can be found in an 1872 printers’ revolt in Toronto. The printers of the city were actively trying to establish a maximum workweek of 54 hours. In the late 19th century, however, unions were not legal in Canada, and anyone who organised labour groups was sent to jail. The protests against this legislation were so massive that the Prime Minister was forced to repeal the anti-union laws and release the union organisers from jail.

Workers across the country began to celebrate the release of the union organisers and their newfound right to organise and self-govern by trade. Parades were held throughout the country every year, and the celebrations were so widespread that the first Monday in September was adopted as Labour Day in the year 1894 by the Parliament residing under Prime Minister John Thompson.

Over the years, there has been a debate about moving the holiday from the first Monday of September to the first day of May. Many countries in Europe celebrate their Labour Day holidays on the 1st, combining it with May Day celebrations. Although moving the date would align Canada with the international community, Canada currently shares the holiday with its neighbour, the United States. This alliance has been a major reason for leaving the holiday to remain on the 1st Monday of September.

Many people take the weekend to travel and visit family while others head to their summer getaway spot for one last celebration. In the cities, the holiday is celebrated with fireworks and parades. Families can catch impressive fireworks displays at Niagra Falls, Whistler, Montreal, Edmonton and other destinations through Canada.

The Canadian International Air Show takes place annually on the Labour Day holiday. The show hosts aircraft and pilots from Canada, the United States and other countries. Show goers can see aircraft from all over the world performing stunts over Lake Ontario all weekend. Admission to the airshow is free of charge, but enthusiasts will often spring for VIP packages for the best viewing areas. Prince Andrew, Duke of York, is the royal patron of the airshow, another nod to Canada’s involvement in the Commonwealth.

Another Canadian Labour Day tradition is the Labour Day Classic. The Labour Day Classic is an event put on annually by the Canadian Football League that takes place over the holiday weekend. What differentiates the Classic from other matches in the season is that the match pair-ups do not change.

The traditional pairs include Winnipeg Blue Bombers v. Saskatchewan Roughriders, Hamilton Tiger-Cats v. Toronto Argonauts, Edmonton Eskimos v. Calgary Stampeders, and the Montreal Alouettes v. Ottawa Redblacks. The British Columbia Lions have a bye on Labour Day Weekend and do not play in the matches.

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