Labour Day in Canada

Labour day in North America falls on the first Monday of September. The long weekend is a symbol of the unofficial end of summer. In Canada, Labour Day has been celebrated since the early 1870s. It origins are found in a parade that was held in support of the Toronto Typographical Union’s strike. Strikers demanded a 58-hour work week in December of 1872.

Today it is celebrated with picnics, parades, fireworks, publicly organized activities and other events. It is also the last long weekend families with children in school can travel, as school generally begins the tuesday after the Labour Day weekend.

Photo Credit: Emmanuel Huybrechts via Wikimedia, cc


You Can’t Wear White After Labor Day

This may seem odd, but North America is quite adamant on respecting this long-followed fashion guideline. Of course, you won’t be fined or arrested if you do, but you may be on the receiving end of some odd looks and whispers. It has been suggested that it was brought about for a number of historically practical reasons. Speculation about these reasons include:

  1. White clothing was generally made of a light material, so it was practical to wear white in the summer months, but not in the fall or winter.
  2. Some suggest that it was symbolic of the summer. White was often the color of choice for people on holiday. After labor day, work began again and the fall-colored clothing made its reappearance.

Fun Facts about Labour Day in Canada

  • The holiday originated in Canada, although most assume it began in the U.S.  It wasn’t until 1882 that the first Labor Day was celebrated in the States.
  • The founder of Labour Day remains a mystery.
  • Many other unionized countries around the world celebrate Labour Day (but not always on the same day as Canada).

For a full history of Labour Day in Canada, click here, or visit the online Canadian Labour Day exhibit here.


Want to learn more about Canadian holidays, history and culture? Sign up for and visit “The Guide.” Read the “Leisure and Culture” and “Learn More about Quebec” chapters for more information on these topics.

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About Jerry

Before my family and I relocated to Canada where I received a teaching opportunity at one of the country’s renowned universities, my wife and kids were naturally full of questions. What would the schools be like? How does healthcare work? Is Canadian French very different than European French? What about Canadian English verses European English? How cold are those frigid northern winters we’ve heard so much about? The only way to fully understand a new city or country is to experience it first-hand. My family and I decided to embrace our relocation as an adventure. Years after the move, we still consider “The Great White North” our home, and we couldn’t be more satisfied with our quality of life here. // Avant que ma famille et moi-même soyons relocalisés au Canada parce que j’ai eu l’opportunité d’aller enseigner dans l’une des universités assez réputée du pays, ma femme et mes enfants avaient naturellement beaucoup de questions. A quoi ressemblent les écoles ? Comment fonctionne le système de santé ? Le français canadien est-il vraiment différent de celui parlé en France ? L’anglais canadien est-il vraiment différent de celui parlé en Europe? Est-ce que les hivers sont vraiment très rigoureux? La meilleure façon de comprendre entièrement une nouvelle ville et un pays est d’en faire personnellement l’expérience. Ma famille et moi avons décidé de voir la relocalisation comme une aventure. Quelques années plus tard, nous considérons “Le Grand Nord Blanc” comme notre maison et nous ne pourrions pas être plus satisfaits.