Category Archives: Labour History

Leonard Sorta Dipped? Free Agency, Past and Present

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Edward Dunsworth Next Tuesday evening, when the Toronto Raptors host the New Orleans Pelicans to kick off the 2019-20 season of the National Basketball Association (NBA), it will be a night unlike any other. The Raptors, for the first time in their 25-year history, begin the campaign as defending champions. There will, of course, be a highly conspicuous absence as… Read more »

Let’s Not Romanticize Opponents of the Winnipeg General Strike

By Tom Mitchell Tumult was everywhere in 1919. In an autobiographical work published in 1966, Kingsley Martin, British journalist and long-time editor of The New Statesman, recalled that “the only time in my life when revolution in Britain seemed likely was in 1919.”  It is true that in Canada an influential current of labour radicalism celebrated the Russian revolution and… Read more »

Revisiting the Workers’ Revolt: Theme Week Conclusion and Further Resources

Sean Carleton and Julia Smith 100 years ago, in the spring and summer of 1919, thousands of workers across Canada went on strike to protest poor wages and working conditions and to grow workers’ power in society. In the century since, much has changed, but much remains the same. Canada, of course, is still a capitalist settler society, complete with… Read more »

Film Friday: Bloody Saturday, 1919

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David Lester and the Graphic History Collective Today is the final day of ActiveHistory.ca’s special Theme Week on the 1919 strike wave. It is also the centenary of Bloody Saturday, 21 June 1919, the violent climax of the Winnipeg General Strike. On that afternoon, one hundred years ago, special constables and the Royal North-West Mounted Police, backed by state officials… Read more »

The Workers’ Revolt in Montreal

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Geoffrey Ewen In 1919, Montreal, Canada’s largest city and a major industrial, manufacturing, commercial and financial centre, was considered a stronghold of craft unionism with strong links to the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The Montreal Trades and Labour Council (MTLC) opposed proposals for a general strike in support of workers in Winnipeg during the General Strike, and Montreal workers… Read more »

The Workers’ Revolt in Toronto

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Jim Naylor The militancy, radicalism, and enthusiasm of large numbers of Toronto workers suggested they were on a parallel path to Winnipeggers leading up to that city’s general strike. The final year of the war had seen a new spirit among Toronto’s workers in ways that mirrored Winnipeg’s. For instance, Toronto’s Civic Employees’ Union had grown steadily to perhaps 1,500… Read more »

The Workers’ Revolt in Edmonton

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Mikhail Bjorge With rail construction largely completed and mechanization lessening the need for iterate agricultural labour, mass unemployment had become the norm in Edmonton, Alberta by 1914. At this time, Carl Berg, a former member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), relocated to the city. Here he started working with Sarah Knight in the Federal Labourers Union and… Read more »

The Workers’ Revolt in Western Coal Country

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Tom Langford On 24 May 1919, some 7,000 unionized coal miners in Alberta and southeastern British Columbia (BC) went on strike even though their union, District 18 of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), had recently agreed to a short-term contract extension and had not even begun bargaining for a new contract. This mass strike has perplexed labour historians… Read more »

The Workers’ Revolt in Calgary

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Sean Carleton, Kirk Niergarth, and Julia Smith When 1,500 workers in Calgary, Alberta struck in sympathy with the Winnipeg General Strike in May and June of 1919, it was the second major sympathetic strike in the city in a nine-month period. Class confrontation was on the rise in Cowtown. The 1919 Calgary strike began on Monday, 26 May and lasted… Read more »

The Workers’ Revolt in Brandon

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Tom Mitchell The the sympathetic strike in Brandon, Manitoba was the longest and most cohesive of the sympathy strikes that erupted across Canada in support of the Winnipeg General Strike. It began 20 May 1919 and persisted until the end of June. It was preceded in late April by a dramatic and successful civic employees’ strike following the creation of… Read more »