In BC’s rough and tumble resource economy before World War One, labour relations were marked by terrible working conditions, lengthy lockouts, imprisonment, even murder at the hands of company gun thugs. Robert Gosden was a fiery radical who advocated in response strikes, sabotage, and, he hinted darkly, assassination, from Prince Rupert to Vancouver Island to San Diego. But by 1919, Gosden had become a labour spy for the RCMP, urging the police to “disappear” his former comrades during the strike wave of that year.
Using songs and poetry and Gosden’s own writings, Mark Leier examines Gosden’s life to explore our history and see what lessons it may hold for us today.
Leier’s talk is part of the SFU History Department’s “Heroes and Villains: Rethinking Good and Evil in History” series. The next talk will take place October 24, 2013, when Bidisha Ray will explore the myth of Mahatma Gandi.