The Holiday That Canada Gave the World

The Labour Day parade goes right by our apartment. It’s senseless to try and ignore it – it’s loud and raucous and it takes a full two and a half hours for all 25,000 marchers to go past. That’s the right number of 0s there. Crazy, huh?

Parade marchers get into the Canadian National Exhibition (the finish point of the parade) for free on Labour day. Many groups had extras of the wristbands that are given to marchers and were handing them out to people watching the parade at the end of the route where we were. We were offered wristbands a half dozen times – next year we’ll plan on taking some and joining the crowd.

What I didn’t know was that Labour Day actually started in Toronto, but apparently this was the first place where people marched, in 1872. There’s a long history of the city being a “union-town” and with so much history, it’s easy to understand why.

People marched with their kids and dogs and families. Almost all unions had snazzy matching shirts or even jackets. There were plenty of bands, especially steel drum bands. While I still find it hard to muster up sympathy for things like the recent job cuts that will affect unions like CAW (Canadian Auto Workers) because I really believe there should be fewer cars on the road, I grew up in a union household (both my parents belonged to unions, as did I at my first job working at a hospital), so for the most part, I believe and agree with the presence and power of the unions.

The parade is really a celebration of humanity and what people can achieve when they pull together. Our society owes a lot to the work of unions, and while they’re not always perfect, they do a lot to make our quality of life one of the best in the world.