Labour Day is upon us and it’s not the end of summer I’m thinking about …

For me, Labour Day has always been synonymous with TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). Well, maybe not “always,” but for at least as long as I’ve been living in Toronto — which is 34 years.

TIFF, for anyone unfamiliar with it, is a 10-day long extravaganza that takes place in Toronto every year right after Labour Day. What has made it unique in the world of film festivals, is that it’s always been accessible to members of the public, instead of just the film industry, the critics and the press. And for movie lovers like me it was one of the highlights of the year.

I say “was,” because I packed it in several years ago, after attending for close to 30 years. No matter Continue reading

Holidays sure aren’t what they used to be …

Guess I’m showing my age here, but I remember when statutory holidays, like Christmas and New Years and Easter and Victoria Day and Labour Day, were just that:  Statutory.  easter eggsEverything was shut down.  Banks, the postal service, schools, offices, grocery stores, all retailers in fact.  But now, at least here in Toronto, that’s definitely no longer the case.

This past weekend was Easter weekend.  I naturally assumed everything would be closed on Good Friday.  I know it used to be.  I remember in Montreal, where I’m from, you could have rolled a bowling ball down any major street in the city and it Continue reading

Day 28. Celebrating Workers

Labour Day.  For some it means nothing more than a long weekend, a Monday off from work.  For others, it signals the end of summer, an official return to the daily   grind.  For kids, it’s back to school (groan).  For Canadians, it’s also the last long weekend before Thanksgiving, which begins the countdown to Christmas.

How we’ll spend the day, is different for everyone.  Those who spent the weekend away from home are probably heading back.  They could be packing up their cars, preparing for their long drives home as I write this.  Or in long lines, waiting to go through airport security, or board trains and busses.  Others are packing up cottages.  Lots of us will hang out in our backyards, sharing a beer or two with friends and family.

We’ll play tennis and golf.  Swim, sail and water ski.  We’ll read.  Listen to music.  Go to amusement parks and flea markets and county fairs. Nap.  And we’ll take advantage of all the special Labour Day sales at many stores.

But for many members of the work force —  those who protect, serve and care for us — like doctors and nurses, police and fire fighters, emergency workers, taxi and transit drivers, retailers, restaurateurs and more, it’s not a holiday at all.  For them it’s just another day at the office.

Being as curious as I am, I decided to spend an hour or two of my Labour Day, researching the history of the holiday.  What I’ve found is kind of interesting.  To begin with, Labour Day is celebrated in many countries around the world:  Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cuba, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Sweden, Middle East, Trinidad and Tobago — and, Continue reading