Monday Morning Coffee
By Billy Rainford
So, I guess this is unofficially it – the end of summer.
The First Labour Day
In a time when workers’ rights are taken for granted and even workers’ benefits have come to be expected, it’s no wonder that the origins of Labour Day are confined to the history books. What evolved into just another summer holiday began as a working class struggle and massive demonstration of solidarity in the streets of Toronto.
Canada was changing rapidly during the second half of the 19th century. Immigration was increasing, cities were getting crowded, and industrialization was drastically altering the country’s economy and workforce.
As machines began to replace or automate many work processes, employees found they no longer had special skills to offer employers. Workers could easily be replaced if they complained or dissented and so were often unable to speak out against low wages, long work weeks and deplorable working conditions.
This is the context and setting for what is generally considered Canada’s first Labour Day event in 1872. At the time, unions were illegal in Canada, which was still operating under an archaic British law already abolished in England.
For over three years the Toronto Printers Union had been lobbying its employers for a shorter work week. Inspired by workers in Hamilton who had begun the movement for a nine-hour work day, the Toronto printers threatened to strike if their demands weren’t met. After repeatedly being ignored by their employers, the workers took bold action and on March 25, 1872, they went on strike.
Toronto’s publishing industry was paralyzed and the printers soon had the support of other workers. On April 14, a group of 2,000 workers marched through the streets in a show of solidarity. They picked up even more supporters along the way and by the time they reached their destination of Queen’s Park, their parade had 10,000 participants – one tenth of the city’s population.
The employers were forced to take notice. Led by George Brown, founder of the Toronto Globe and notable Liberal, the publishers retaliated. Brown brought in workers from nearby towns to replace the printers. He even took legal action to quell the strike and had the strike leaders charged and arrested for criminal conspiracy.
Conservative Prime Minister John A. Macdonald was watching the events unfold and quickly saw the political benefit of siding with the workers. Macdonald spoke out against Brown’s actions at a public demonstration at City Hall, gaining the support of the workers and embarrassing his Liberal rival. Macdonald passed the Trade Union Act, which repealed the outdated British law and decriminalized unions. The strike leaders were released from jail.
The workers still did not obtain their immediate goals of a shorter work week. In fact, many still lost their job. They did, however, discover how to regain the power they lost in the industrialized economy. Their strike proved that workers could gain the attention of their employers, the public, and most importantly, their political leaders if they worked together. The “Nine-Hour Movement,” as it became known, spread to other Canadian cities and a shorter work week became the primary demand of union workers in the years following the Toronto strike.
The parade that was held in support of the strikers carried over into an annual celebration of worker’s rights and was adopted in cities throughout Canada. The parades demonstrated solidarity, with different unions identified by the colorful banners they carried. In 1894, under mounting pressure from the working class, Prime Minister Sir John Thompson declared Labour Day a national holiday.
Over time, Labour Day strayed from its origins and evolved into a popular celebration enjoyed by the masses. It became viewed as the last celebration of summer, a time for picnics, barbecues and shopping.
No matter where you find yourself this Labour Day, take a minute to think about Canada’s labour pioneers. Their actions laid the foundations for future labour movements and helped workers secure the rights and benefits enjoyed today.
Now you know.
Whatever you’re doing this Labour Day, have a great time. There is still a ton of riding and racing going on across the country, so get out there and enjoy the slightly cooler weather while you can.
Speaking of races, this photo was sent to us from a CMRC amateur event that took place this weekend at a usually very popular track. Ouch.
To see only 4 and 5 entries in the Junior classes is not a very good sign.
Gopher Dunes Quicksand Sprint Enduro
Jeff McConkey headed to Gopher Dunes Saturday for the first-ever Gopher Dunes Sprint Enduro. I think it is pretty safe to say, this style of event has very solid potential. Every single person I spoke to said they had one of their most enjoyable days at the track, ever, and I have to agree.
I headed down the highway to the famous sand track in Courtland, Ontario, to capture the event with my cameras, and I ‘m really glad I did. Here’s how a Sprint Enduro works:
- you sign up for a class that you think you could win (until we make fun of you for sand-bagging and you’re forced to move up a class. Right, Todd Kuli?)
- you pick your class by the amount of laps you think you can handle (Most chose poorly. Someone tell me how Kuli is walking today)
- you attach the transponder to your bike
- there are 3 different loops – mx, trail, and single track
- if you raced Intermediate, you had to do 5 loops of each course (5 mx, 5 trail, 5 single track = 15 loops)
- you do the loops whenever you feel like it, in whatever order you feel like
- the time starts when you cross the start and ends when you cross the finish each time
- times get totaled up and winners are crowned
Other than struggling to find everyone in a good spot for photos, it was one of the most fun days at the races I’ve had in quite a while. There something different about the vibe at an off-road event. They are definitely all about the participant and not the spectator. That is good and bad, of course.
I spoke with Derek Schuster of Gopher Dunes and he said he was really happy with the event and is definitely going to make it a thing. He doubts they will be able to do another one this season, but would like to maybe do one in the spring and then again next fall.
Also, a big thanks to Wayne Carroll for telling me to go to the storage unit and grab a Honda pit bike for the day. It saved my knee and got me to a bunch of places I’d never have been able to get to without it.
I’ll be posting some video and photos from the day as soon as I can. OK, let’s be honest, I’m off to the beach for probably the last time of the year to play some beach volleyball. I’ll get to it after that, I promise!
You can look at full results HERE but here are the tops from each class:
Pro (6 laps of each)
1. Colton Facciotti 82:05
2. Liam O’Farrell 83:41
3. Zachary Lewis 84:30
4. Jay Burke 89:29
5. Peter Ruegsegger 89:29
Women Expert (4 laps of each)
1. Dana Barrett 80:26
2. Brooke Kares 93:41
3. Jocelyn Facciotti 73:38 (only scored with 3 laps of MX loop)
Vet Intermediate (5 laps of each)
1. Steve Simms 78:48
2. Scott Donkersgoed 81:11
3. Sean Trendell 81:37
4. Scott Merritt 83:07
5. Dwayne Soper 84:22
12. Todd Kuli 90:18
14. Jeff McConkey 94:21
Kuli and McConkey will next go head to head at the Vet National at Motopark, October 7th. I know you’re all on the edge of your seats for this outcome…
I took the little pit bike around each loop once to see what everyone had gotten themselves into. Now, I’m not a huge wet logs/oddly shaped and positioned rocks guy, but these loops had just the right amount of tricky bits to make it challenging to go fast for the good guys and yet still be a riot for the lesser off-road riders, like myself. All 3 loops were a blast!
I put the WaspCam on a Leatt helmet I borrowed from Kuli and off I went. My plan was to post videos of each full loop. However, when I got home I realized I still had the camera set to ‘time lapse,’ so that is all I got. Don’t get old. people. Failing reading vision is a killer! Anyway, here are all 3 loops in 17.5 seconds:
MXGP of USA at WW Motocross Park
Again, we had our bags packed and were ready to book flights for this event, but changed our minds at the last second. Had a Canadian been lining up on the gate for the MXGP of USA, we would have been there. Instead, we checked Twitter and followed along with the racing online, like most other people did.
MX2 – GP Classification
Next round: MXGP of The Netherlands – Assen, September 10
Congratulations to Team Canada for participating in the 2017 ISDE in France. I followed along when I could and this looks like one heck of an event to race and complete.
First off, let’s all send out a big ‘GET WELL SOON!’ to Madi Watt who crashed in an early stage and isn’t exactly feeling 100%, to say the least. I don’t have details I can pass along here, but let’s hope she’s doing well.
Here’s a look at some results:
You can see full results HERE.
We’ll be sure to get in touch with a team member or two this week to talk about their experience.
OK, get outside and enjoy yourselves. Unfortunately, as I typed this, the wind has picked up and I’m not sure how good it will be for volleyball on the beach. Oh well, there’s really no such thing as a bad day at the beach, is there?
Thanks for reading, and have a great week.