The Annual Labour Day Parade down at Toronto’s CNE grounds has a long history. In anticipation of Labour Day this Monday September 5th, 2011, here are some images from the Toronto Telegram from parades from 1953, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1961 and 1963, as photographed by Telegram photographers Ray McFadden, Bruce Reed, Don Grant, Albert Van, MacLean and Adden (first names unknown).
James Marsh of The Canadian Encyclopedia notes that one of the earliest recordings of a Labour Day parade in Canada with the fight by Hamilton workers for a nine-hour work week, which was embraced by the Toronto Printer’s Union (see Marsh). In 1869 the union sent a petition to employers which was rejected by printing shop owners across the city. The workers walked out on 25 March 1872 and on 14 April, Marsh notes:
a demonstration was held to show solidarity among the workers of Toronto. A parade of some 2000 workers marched through the city, headed by two marching bands. By the time that the parade reached Queen’s Park, the sympathetic crowd had grown to 10,000.
This public demonstration of working class cohesion was, according to Marsh, one of the lasting legacies of the Nine-Hour Movement. Annual marches cropped up around North America soon after and in 1894 an official Labour Day Holiday was recognized by the federal government.
Craig Heron, The workers’ festival: a history of Labour Day in Canada. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005). Citation available at: http://www.library.yorku.ca/find/Record/1761982
Fete du travail Conseil central national des metiers et du travail de Quebec, 7 septembre 1908. Quebec : C. Gague, 1908. [pamphlet]. Citation available at: http://www.library.yorku.ca/find/Record/860327
James Marsh, “Origins of Labour Day” The Canadian Encyclopedia. Accessed 2 September 2011. Available at: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=ArchivedFeatures&Params=A218.