Defining Moments Canada Announces National Project Commemorating the Trade Unions Act and Labour History

May 14, 2022

Defining Moments Canada/Moments Déterminants Canada, a heritage education organization, in partnership with the Government of Canada (through the Ministry of Canadian Heritage) announces a national commemorative project entitled: All for Nine and Nine for All: The Nine Hour Movement and Induction of the Trade Unions Act (1872) a bilingual digital project exploring 150 years of Canadian labour history, beginning with the catalyst Nine Hour Movement.

This digital project, commencing in Spring 2022 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 1,500 “nine-hour pioneers” marching in the streets of Hamilton with the aim of labour reform, will showcase the changing nature of work in the late 19th century and the emerging activism of Canada’s various labour forces, including newspaper printers, railway workers, shipbuilders, metalworkers, carpenters, and general labourers in response to rapid industrialization. Never homogeneous, Canadian workers began to identify through ethnicity, class, craft, and industrial work – distinctions made more complex with increasing immigration. All for Nine and Nine for All will also examine the Nine Hour Movement through a contemporary lens by connecting this historic event with modern post-pandemic labour struggles, the millennial “gig economy”, and the evolving labour force of the 21st century. 

Just as the Nine Hour Movement did not successfully result in the implementation of a standard work day for most labourers, the Trade Unions Act did not ‘give’ workers the right to unionize – they had already taken this for themselves. However, both the Movement and the Act were turning points for labour activism; workers and unions had more legal freedom to advocate for themselves and continue to improve conditions for work across Canada. 

Defining Moments Canada will develop a bilingual national digital commemoration of the Trade Unions Act of 1872, the activism that led to it and the history of labour activism in Canada.  Commemorating these ‘defining moments’ will continue the Defining Moments Canada commitment to curation, telling stories, and teaching at the intersection of social issues and Public Education. Defining Moments Canada will use accessible digital platforms and our trademarked ‘Curatorial Thinking’ pedagogy to create lesson plans, historical articles, multimedia content and storymaps to inspire teachers and learners to engage with this story.

“The All for Nine and Nine for All project is an opportunity to make connections between historical and contemporary narratives, and to elevate the voices of Canada’s labourers. We are excited to explore stories of Canadian labour activism over the last 150 years and to highlight the ongoing advocacy of working Canadians to achieve and maintain equality, fair pay, and appropriate employment conditions.” 

Neil Orford, President, Defining Moments Canada

For media inquiries & further information, please contact:

Anna England, Projects Manager

Neil Orford, President

Defining Moments Canada/Moments Déterminants Canada is a digital heritage and education company, leading innovative educational engagement and the commemoration of Canada’s history using twenty-first century tools and storytelling skills. It has previously carried out the national commemorations surrounding the 1918-1920 Influenza Pandemic, the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, the 100th Anniversary of the Discovery of Insulin, the 75th anniversary of VEDay, and Gerhard Herzberg’s 1971 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (Which became the NobelCanadian digital commemoration of all Canadian laureates of the Nobel Prize). In 2022, Defining Moments Canada begins its commemorations of the 1922 Bryce Report and the Nine Hour Movement.