Category Archives: Labour History

Remember/Resist/Redraw #26: 1995 Calgary Workers Laundry Strike

Earlier this month, the Graphic History Collective released RRR #26 to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1995 Calgary Laundry Workers Strike. The poster by Mary Joyce and Alvin Finkel outlines the importance of rank-and-file militancy, much of it by immigrant women of colour, in the fight against austerity and privatization in places like Alberta. This poster is particularly pertinent… Read more »

On Grieving the Finnish Labour Temple and the Promise of the Community Hall

Samira Saramo The news crashed down on me like a tonne of red bricks: the Finnish Labour Temple had been sold. Since 1910, the Labour Temple in Thunder Bay, Ontario, has stood as the grandest symbol of Finnish immigrant presence in Canada. With its iconic cupola, it is also a beacon of Thunder Bay and the heart of the bustling… Read more »

What’s the Beef with COVID-19?

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By Catherine Carstairs and Philip Rich As restaurants across the country closed in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, fast-food chains stayed open. In the first quarter of 2020, McDonald’s Corp global sales decreased by only 3.4%. This is remarkable given that McDonald’s had to close over 300 stores in China as well as restaurants in France, Italy, Spain and the… Read more »

Stand! Show and Tell (and Sing)

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David Frank The catalogue of labour history films in Canada is a small one. There is a very good body of work in the documentary tradition, but you will not need a long weekend to screen all of the dramatic films related to this country’s labour and working-class history.[1] To this shelf, we can now add a new film based… Read more »

Staging History

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By Craig Heron Historians have become increasingly attuned to the role of performance in history. Many of us have written about the pomp and pageantry of the powerful, the theatre of the high courts, the processions of urban respectability, the rituals of resistance among the poor and powerless. We have been much more reticent, however, about using theatre to present… Read more »

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 »