Scratch the Surface: A Working Class Heritage Tour

  • April 30 - June 4, 2023
  • Old Halifax Memorial Public Library

    5381 Spring Garden Road
    Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 1E9
Ticket Price (CAD) Free This event is now over

Sunday, April 30 @ 1:00pm
Saturday, May 13 @ 1:00pm
Sunday, June 4 @ 1:00pm

Start: Old Halifax Memorial Public Library (Spring Garden) Brunswick St @ Spring Garden Rd
End: Waterfront near the ferry terminal

Duration: 90 mins
Registration: PWYC / By donation

Join Emma Lang for a new interactive working-class history tour that explores the industrial past of downtown Halifax. As we move through the city we’ll explore the many types of work that used to take place where today there are offices, shops and restaurants. Pull back the curtain on what it was like to work in the laundries, factories, and food manufacturing plants of Halifax. You’ll never see downtown the same way again.

The tour has been designed with accessibility in mind.

The tour is an easygoing 90 minutes in duration with regular stops for discussion along the way.
Accessible washrooms and parking is available at the beginning of the tour.
The tour begins at the Old Spring Garden Public Library and ends at the waterfront.
The itinerary crosses through intersections with curb cuts and follows sidewalks.

Emma Lang is a public heritage professional, folklorist and tour guide. She’s been sharing her research and excitement in labour history to anyone interested for more than 20 years.

Banner Photo: Nova Scotia Archives: Jean Holder Nova Scotia Archives 1980-195 no. 24 / neg. no.: N-0172

Date & Time

Apr. 30 - Jun. 4, 2023

Venue Details

Old Halifax Memorial Public Library

5381 Spring Garden Road
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 1E9 Old Halifax Memorial Public Library
Mayworks Kjipuktuk/Halifax

May 1st is marked throughout the world as International Workers’ Day, or May Day. A day when the workers of the world take to the streets (when not facing a pandemic) in every major city around the globe demanding justice, fairness and dignity for all. In North America, May Day has not been as prominent as it is in other parts of the world, but it is still celebrated in most major cities with a variety of political and community actions.  However, May Day isn’t simply a celebration of labour. It is a rallying call against our current economic system, a public declaration that “Capitalism Isn’t Working For Workers,” and an affirmation that a better world is possible.

One of the ways various labour councils and unions mark May Day is through the Mayworks Festival. Mayworks was originally conceived in 1986 by the Toronto and York District Labour Council and the idea has since spread to many cities across the country. The goal behind Mayworks is to bring workers and artists together and to use art to explore themes of justice, solidarity and liberation. Art has always been an important way of expressing political statements and Mayworks continues a long tradition of building bonds of solidarity between artists and labour organizations.

The first annual Mayworks Halifax festival took place in 2009 thanks to the organizing efforts of the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council. Our festival has since grown exponentially from year to year and has now become Nova Scotia’s largest social justice-themed cultural event. Annually, our festival attracts over a thousand diverse audience members who take interest in issues of social, economic and environmental justice.

Find more Performing & Visual Arts events in Halifax