Friday, September 3, 2010

Coming to An End

Officially the first day of fall is September 22, 2010. But this is the last long weekend of summer, Labour Day Weekend, and for many it signifies the end of the lazy days.

The long days of playing in the sun, getting into mischief and being free will end after this weekend. Then it will be back to school for children and perhaps new projects for the adults.

Labour Day was first celebrated in New York City in 1882 and became a federal holiday in the U.S. in 1894. It was formed to honor the working person and parades were held to exhibit the strength of the working class. There was also more than likely a bit of politics involved here.

In May of 1894 approximately 3000 employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company went on a wildcat strike to protest the reduction in wages and the layoffs of numerous employees due to tough times. The strike halted traffic west of Chicago and a massive struggle between the American Railway Union,  the country's first nation wide union, and the railway. As can sometimes happen with these sort of things events turned violent and President Grover Cleveland sent in 12,000 troops to try to restore order. By the time the dust settled 13 strikers were killed, 57 wounded and $340,000 worth of damage was done by 6,000 employees. (That would work out to over $8,000,000 in today's monies.) So Cleveland was eager to try to smooth over things with the labour parties.

The luscious green foliage and the hues of summer blossoms will soon fade - some are already - and appear to die as nature goes to sleep for the winter. But before that, before the earth's landscape loses colour we are going to be treated to nature dressing up in her finest shades for the last dance of the year.

Starting Tuesday kiddies will pour into buildings such as the one below. Excited for the first day of school, saddened that the summer is over, eager to show off the new school clothes yet chafing against the restrictive nature of them, so different from the looseness and ease of summer attire.

Those attending here have the privilege of going to an elementary school that was built in 1909 and was named after the wife of King Edward VII of England.

One of the buildings in this elementary school was built in 1910.  Lord Selkirk Elementary school was named after the Scottish philanthropist who helped poor people not only in his home land but here as well.

Then there will be those students who put on a uniform and attend St. Francis of Assisi School.

They will follow the fish through the gate of this Catholic based learning establishment and, like their counterparts at other schools, will learn and progress.

Some mourn the end of summer. Mourn the fact that the hot days are disappearing, that structure and order are back in the norm, that sandals, shorts and tshirts are put away for another year. But I don't. Every season has something to offer. The nip in the air that is coming makes a person feel alive, the inevitable rain nourishes the earth and the added clothing protects our skin from outer harm.

Not that I haven't enjoyed this summer because I have. I have rediscovered my passion for history and through this blog am able to share it with you.  I am grateful too that I have got out into the city and taken pictures of places that may soon disappear. Like the Cecil Hotel.

Yesterday I wrote about the Yale Hotel on Granville Street. The Cecil Hotel is right beside it though not for long.

The Cecil Hotel was built in 1909 and for approximately the last thirty five years has been a strip club. It is now closed and waiting to be transformed into high rise condos. So we shall say goodbye to another Vancouver landmark.

On the humourous side if I hadn't had rediscovered my passion for history I would never have read the tidbit that on October 6, 1909 Vancouver took its first mechanized ambulance out for a test drive. That didn't go so well. They ran over and killed an American tourist.

On that note I will wish you all a great weekend. I will probably be back on Monday.

I hope you find the beauty around you, no matter what the season.

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