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© McCord Museum
Gurd's Belfast Ginger Ale and Soda Water Works employee's picnic, near Montreal, QC, 1886
Wm. Notman & Son
1886, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

As the idea of leisure took root, it permeated all aspects of daily life. Although leisure activities were generally done outside of work, there were times when the two crossed over. In fact, leisure activities were gradually incorporated into professional life. On the one hand, employers organized recreations to benefit their workers and win their loyalty. On the other hand, workers organized leisure activities to build worker solidarity and for pleasure and relaxation. Newspapers of the period frequently carried articles on company and union picnics, raffles and sports competitions attended by workers and their families in the summer.


Attending this picnic were the employees of a soda pop company and their families. Such gatherings provided opportunities to meet other people and play sports such as lacrosse, as shown here by the players in the upper rows.


The high grass surrounding the employees and their families seems to indicate that this picnic took place in the countryside.


In addition to Sundays, civic holidays such as the one on the Queen's birthday in May and on Labour Day in September were often devoted to leisure activities.


A native of Ireland, Charles Gurd, the owner of Gurd's Belfast Ginger Ale, organized an annual picnic for his employees and their families.

© Musée McCord Museum