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Hamilton’s Nine-Hour League and the Nine-Hour League Parade of 1872

Anyone out for a stroll in Hamilton’s Old Market Square on the night of January 31, 1872 would have wondered what was going on at the Shakespeare Hotel. Dozens of workers had gathered for a meeting. Their topic of conversation: the right to a shorter working day. Before the meeting was over, these men founded the Hamilton Nine-Hour League.

The Nine-Hour League in Hamilton was Canada’s first working-class organization dedicated to winning shorter work hours. Following Hamilton’s lead, other Nine-Hour Leagues soon sprang up from Sarnia to Montreal; the campaign led by these workers marked the birth of Canada’s first real labour movement.  On May 15, 1872 a parade of hundreds of workers marched past the factories and workshops that brought the Industrial Revolution to Hamilton over the previous couple of decades, calling on the city’s employers to shorten the working day. Although their struggle for shorter hours ultimately failed, these ‘Nine Hour Pioneers’ were part of the early fight for fairness and dignity.

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Site Credits: Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, Hamilton, Ontario
and the support of:
– Rob Kristofferson, PhD, project writer and historian
– Simon Orpana, PhD, research support
– Katherine Roy, project coordinator
– Carol Anderson, copy editing
– Contexto Translations, French language translation services
– Erica Rayment and Access Alliance Language Services, French language support
– Radiodress Productions, sound engineering
– Kat Williams, photography