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Labour Day: Not Just Another Long Weekend



Labour Day: Not Just Another Long Weekend

It’s not quite the same as heralding in the New Year, but Labour Day traditionally marks the passing of time. It represents the transitioning of seasons, as this long weekend has become known as…”summer’s last hurrah!”, where picnics, BBQ’s and road trips all get crammed into three day’s. The arrival marks a bittersweet transition for students as they cling to the last dregs of summer holidays before the new school season begins. And for the fashion forward fanciers white is relegated to the dark corners of the closet…until May.

This is a far cry from its origin. Few people know the history of Labour Day, including the businesses that are the direct descendants of its historic moment.

Here’s a few facts about Labour Day that I thought I would share…

  • Labour Day originated in Canada, contrary to the comments of an American satellite radio announcer this past week. It stemmed from a labour dispute in 1870 in Toronto.
  • In 1872, labourers held a “parade” (striking was not legal) supporting the nine- hour workday and denouncing the 58-hour workweek.
  • The Canadian Labour Union was formed in1873 and became the catalyst for many voices of labour over the centuries that followed.
  • In the late 1800’s the average North American (Canada and the US) worked 12hour days, 7 days a week in order to sustain a basic lifestyle. It was not uncommon for children as young as 5 and 6 years of age to work in factory and mines. Particularly if they were new to the country.
  • The factories of the day were facing the Industrial Revolution. How to keep businesses running 24-7, was a challenge. With no regulations in place, the 10-16 hour work day became the norm…however this was not sustainable and a man named Robert Owen campaigned for a more balanced approach: 8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation and 8 hours of rest.
  • In 1894, Prime Minister Sir John Thompson declared Labour Day a national holiday.
  • In 1914, The Ford Motor Company was one of the first factories to implement the 40hour work week and doubled the workers salary. To the shock of most, Ford doubled its profit margin within 2 years of implementing these changes. Needless to say, others soon followed.

Those of us in business, take these historical and momentous steps for granted. It may be summer’s last long weekend, but it’s an important time to honour where we’ve been, in order to appreciate what we have, so that we can positively influence our tomorrow.

So, as this labour day weekend comes to a close and we head into a new work week, I challenge you to ask yourself where you’ve been, what you have now, and where you’re headed professionally. This is a time of change and opportunity for all, and I invite you to let me be a part of your business’ growth in the coming quarter.

Until next week,


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