Summer’s Last Gasp


I don’t need a calendar to tell me it’s ┬áthe Labour Day weekend. For the past week night ┬áhas invited a damp chill into my garden. Fog banks heralded by far away horns, instruct reluctant trees to give up their leaves. Geese gather in parks, nary a glance to frantic squirrels stocking chestnut vaults. Days end with a shout not a whimper; bringing whiffs of autumn beneath the harvest moon.

We never swam after Labour Day; the change of season left no doubt of this unspoken rule. Spring might come early, summer when it was good and ready, winter when you least expected ; fall is always on time.

In Canada, Labour Day history begins in Hamilton, Ontario – 1869. From Hamilton the “9 Hour Movement” spread to Toronto with a petition by the Toronto Printers Union to reduce the work week to nine hours a day, six days a week. Their employers refused the 54 hour work week request – in April of 1872, 2000 striking workers and thousands of supporters marched through downtown Toronto. The illegal strike saw 24 union organizers tossed in jail and replacement workers hired. In June 1872, Prime Minister Sir John A. MacDonald legalized trade union actions by passing the Trade Union Act. In 1894, Prime Minister Sir John Thompson made Labour Day official.

Understanding history behind the first Monday in September doesn’t change the fact it coincides with summers last gasp.