Today's hour-long parade, with 55 entries from local business and industry and included marching bands, a roller derby team and student-rallied support for suicide prevention, started at Front and Wellington and ended at Centennial Park.
Sarnia's inaugural Labour Day Parade happened in 1902 and has since grown every year as a reminder of the city's staunch, unwavering support for trade unions and the rights of workers.
"Labour Day is an important aspect of our local history, especially in a union town like ours that's built itself on a robust petrochemical industry and a very skilled labour presence," said local IBPAT member Ted Bleackley. "Unions and legislation that supports the worker are more important than ever at a time when workers' rights are being infringed upon more and more."
Labour Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September in Canada since the 1880s. The origins of Labour Day in Canada can be traced back to December 1872 when a parade was staged in support of the Toronto Typographical Union's strike for a 58-hour work-week.
“We come out every year to show our support and the grandchildren just love everything there is to see from the Shriner’s little cars that drive in circles to the marching bands; as well as all of the different types of work vehicles that are put on display each year,” said local resident Shirley Edwards who has two sons that are electricians in the local IBEW.
Labour Day this year comes at a crucial time when Ontario teachers have recently rallied against a newly proposed Bill 115 from the provincial government that would freeze their wages for at least two years.
Parade entries that took home trophies:
- Best marching unit, Plumbers & Pipefitters, Local 663;
- Best union float, Sarnia Jail;
- Best number of participants, Plumbers & Pipefitters, Local 663;
- Best representation percentage, CEP 914;
- Best non-pipe band, St. Clair Drum line;
- Best pipe and drum band, Scottish Society of Windsor;
- Best commercial entry, Preferred Towing;
- Best non-commercial entry, Harmony for Youth.
- Best new entry, Suicide Prevention;
- Best classic vehicle, Bob Willshire;
- Committee choice, Herb Galloway.