Monday, May 12

New Strike Book

Also on the topic of the Strike, there is a new book being launched on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at McNally Robinson's . Michael Dupuis' Winnipeg’s General Strike: Reports from the Front Lines takes a look at the role of the media and how they portrayed the Strike versus the reality of what was going on on the ground. (You can check out a preview chapter here.)

Monday, April 23

"Live" Tweeting the General Strike

Now live-tweeting the events of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike at @1919wpgstrike

I've been wondering what to do about this blog that's been pretty much dormant for a couple of years. During that time a lot of text and image links have broken, some formatting issues have crept in and I've found a few embarrassing grammatical errors, (most of these were written after midnight !)

A new (and bad) Blogger interface means that if I open a post to make changes the formatting, especially line breaks and text fonts, go crazy, so going through an updating all of the posts would take longer than it would to start from scratch. What I have decided to do instead is live-tweet the events starting in late April 2012.

It will help bring the content back to life and allows me to comb through and fix the worst of the posts.

If you're on "the twitters" stay tuned to @1919wpgstrike ! After a few test-tweets things will start up soon !

For web links to strike resources check this link !

Thursday, October 6

Extras needed for STRIKE! movie

Winnipeg General Strike 5

Danny Schur's odyssey to document the Winnipeg General Strike continues. The man who brought you Strike! the Musical will start shooting a feature film about the event in summer 2012.

They are taking registrations now for movie extras - they need a whopping 750 of them ! If you are interested or form more information please contact Schur at dannyschur - at

City Hall Courtyard

Also, Schur's documentary Mike's Bloody Saturday premiered on October 1, 2011 in the city hall courtyard. It is available for viewing on MTS TV. Catch a trailer for it here.

Thursday, September 29

New photos, documentary on the Winnipeg General Strike

History revisited
New photos of the Winnipeg General Strike offer different perspective on seminal event

Winnipeg Free Press, September 29, 2011

"In preparing his 25-minute documentary Mike's Bloody Saturday, which will debut at an outdoor screening in the city hall courtyard Saturday evening, writer-producer Danny Schur was hunting down a picture he believed showed a mortally wounded Ukrainian-Canadian Mike Sokolowski being carried away after being shot during a violent confrontation between strikers and police on June 21, 1919.

Schur still hasn't found that photograph, but in the search of the province's archives in July, he discovered a cache of 12 new ones that offer new perspectives on Bloody Saturday, the culmination of one of the most defining events in the city's history."

Tuesday, December 14

Plans for 2010-11

The 90th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike took place in 2009. I decided to spin-off strike related news from my This Was Manitoba blog into this space. Ninety years to the day I uploaded the strike news and events.

This year, I am not re-uploading the posts so the best way to go through this blog is to use the 'by date' archives at the side.

For 2011 my intention is to come back, clean up some of the editing and old links and perhaps add additional content that I have found since doing this blog.

Saturday, December 11

December 11, 1920

R.B. Russell is released from prison, one year into his two year sentence.

Friday, October 29

29 March 1920 - The Robson Report Finally Public

The Robson Report is finally made public (for background and a link ot the report).

Presented to the Provicne back on November 6, 1919 Robson found, much like the Mathers' Commission of earlier in the year, little evidence of Bolshevik revolution. Rather, he concludes, the strike was a "protest against conditions" that they faced and a "demand for relief":

"it is too much for me to say that the vast number of intelligent residents who went on strike were seditious or that they were either dull enough or weak enough to allow themselves to be led by seditionaries."

Saturday, May 1

1 May, 1920 - Mayday Reaction to Jailing

The New York Times: a strike of 15,000 coal miners in Nova Scotia, the men quitting work as a protest against the refusal of the authorities to release the Winnipeg strike leaders on bail, pending the hearing of their appeal to the higher courts.

Saturday, February 20

Feb 20, 1920 - The Financial Cost

A report released yesterday estimates the cost of the trials to-date to be $100,000, According to the Bank of Canada Inflation Calculator that would be $ 1,182,474.23 in 2009 dollars.

Also see:
"Legal Gentlemen Appointed by the Federal Government": the CanadianState, the Citizens' Committee of 1000, and Winnipeg's Seditious ConspiracyTrials of 1919–1920"

Thursday, January 21

28 January 1921: Letter from F.J. Dixon to Meighen

Dixon writes to Hugh Guthrie, Justice Minister and Arthur Meighen, now the Prime Minister, to remind them that Ivens, Queen and Armstrong, all of whom are MLA-elects, are still in jail and unless released:

We would emphasize at this time the discontent that is likely to be aroused in the minds of the voters who elected these men to public office, if they find their elected representatives are barred from performing their public function.

Wednesday, December 9

In case you're wondering ...

There IS more 1919 to come ! My plan was to do this blog in real time which, upon reflection, doesn't work so great for the post-strike period. Over the hols I might speed up the remainder of 1919 and 1920 which includes the trails.

Friday, November 6

6 November 1919: The Robson Report

The Robson Commission report is presented to the provincial government (for background and a link to the report).

Similar to the feds', Mathers Commission report of earlier in the year, Robson does not find much in the way of Bolshevik revolution. Rather, he concludes, the strike was a "protest against conditions" that workers faced and a "demand for relief":

"it is too much for me to say that the vast number of intelligent residents who went on strike were seditious or that they were either dull enough or weak enough to allow themselves to be led by seditionaries."

The government did not make the report public for another four months, after the trials of the strike leaders were complete.

Tuesday, September 22

General Strike Lecture 24 Sept '09

Here's an Upcoming Lecture:

"The Winnipeg General Strike: Writing About the Citizens' Committee of 1000"
by Tom Mitchell, Archivist & Historian, Brandon University

WHEN: Thursday, 24 September 2009, 7:30 PM
WHERE: Archives & Special Collections, 330 Dafoe Library, U of M
COST: Free

This event is sponsored by Archives & Special Collections and the Association for Manitoba Archives. All are welcome!

Wednesday, September 9

Exhibit: 1919 The Ripple Effect of Fear

Exhibit: Winnipeg's 1919 General Strike: The Ripple Effect of Fear

Martin Auditorium, Dalnavert Museum, 61 Carlton Street, Winnipeg.

This display, developed in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, showcases those who were in charge on either side and the consequences of the fear that gripped that era as witnessed in Winnipeg. Learn why this event was so significant at that time and what seeds were sown affecting our lives today.

Monday, September 7

Saturday, September 5

Legal Beagles Part 2: Royal Commissions

Another source of legal activity were the two main Royal Commissions happening in 1919.

Name: The Commission to Inquire into and Report upon Industrial Relations in Canada (often short-titled to the Royal Commission on Industrial Relations or the 'Mathers Commission')

Dominion of Canada
Time of Activity: April - June 1919
Date of Report: July 1, 1919 (Tablled in House)
Chair: Thomas Graham Mathers
Detail: The Royal Commission to enquire into and report upon the causes and effects of the General Strike which recently existed in the City of Winnipeg for a period of six weeks, including the methods of calling and carrying on such strike

Name: The "Royal Commission to enquire into and report upon the causes and effects of the General Strike which recently existed in the City of Winnipeg for a period of six weeks, including the methods of calling and carrying on such strike" (often short-titled to the Royal Commission on the Winnipeg General Strike or 'The Robson Commission').

Government: Province of Manitoba
Time of Activity: July - November 1919
Date of Report: November 6, 1919 (not made public until March 20, 1920)
Chair: Hugh Amos Robson
Detail: That title sort of sums it up !

Tuesday, September 1

1 September 1919: Protests Renewed

The Winnipeg Eight are still being held in prison awaiting trial. Protests for their release grow louder. The largest protest to-date was held September 1, 1919 as described in this article in the September 5th Western Labour News (to see full article).

Sunday, August 30

1919 Legal Beagles Part 1

The names of those who stood trial are still known, some celebrated, today. Post-strike there was another set of players to enter the arena: the legal teams. For them, these were not ordinary trials. They were a chance to make legal history.

Walter Pue, in a paper titled Cowboy Jurists & the Making of Legal Professionalism said of this era in Prairie law:

"Lawyers combined agendas which were explicitly moral and reforming with a profound restructuring of their profession. Their efforts to reform the curriculum of formal legal education was part of a cultural project, but so too was their desire to attain self-regulation, monopoly, professional independence, and plenary disciplinary powers."

Who were some of these lawyers ? Here are a few of the key players. Note that by going to their bios you may see the outcome of some of the trials yet to appear here !

Citizens Committee of 1000 lawyers:
Alfred Joseph "A.J." Andrews - Was mayor in 1898-99. He led the team for the Committee.

Issac Pitblado At the time he was a member and cousel for the Committee as well as the head of the Manitoba Law Society. The Isaac Pitblado Lectures have been held annually for almost 50 years.

Travers Sweatman - (no image) Famous for having defended Thomas Kelly during the Manitoba Legislative Scandal. He would later become a judge (source) nominated by A.J. Andrews (source)

James Bowes Coyne A member of the Aikins firm

Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council lawyers

Thomas J. Murray K.C. (no image) Represented Moses Chartinoff

Marcus Hyman - Defended the 'radical aliens', those born outside Canada, facing deportation by the the Board of Inquiry. Later in life he became an MLA and introduced The Manitoba Defamation Act (1934) - the first Canadian group libel law, and the only one until 1970 (source).

E.J. Murray
(no image)

All that I could find on-line were written by those on the side of labour. If anyone has a link to something from the other side or from a legal point of view please share !

"Repressive Measures": AJ Andrews, the Committee of 1000 and the Campaign Against Radicalism after the Winnipeg General Strike

"Legal Gentlemen Appointed by the Federal Government": the Canadian State, the Citizens' Committee of 1000, and Winnipeg's Seditious ConspiracyTrials of 1919–1920.

Thursday, August 27

27 August, 1919 - The Newsstand

The Strikers' Defence Bulletin was published in August to cover the trials and appeal for financial help. This is the only known copy to survive. It provides coverage of some of the proceedings, including the statements of some of the arrested.

Saturday, August 1

August 1, 1919: The Winnipeg Eight


Following those arrested and what happened to them will be the next section of this blog. I will try to follow as many as I can, though there is less detail available on-line as there was for the actual strike itself.

One group that I certainly will follow are "The Winnipeg Eight". These strike leaders, who by now were household names, were all arrested / had warrants issued for their arrest on June 17, 1919. They faced multiple charges of sedition.

Sent to Stoney Mountain (see above photo) to await their trials as of August 1 they were still waiting in jail.

Those eight are:
William Ivens
Born: Barford, England, 1878
Former Methodist minister. Editor of the Western Labour News. Arrested June 17 on multiple counts of seditious conspiracy.

Robert Boyd "R.B." Russell
Born: Glasgow, Scotland, 1888
OBU delegate, union leader and member of Central Strike Committee. Arrested June 17 on multiple charges of seditious libel.

Richard J "Dick"Johns
Born: Cornwall, England, 1889.
CPR Machinist, Manitoba leader for the OBU. Arrest warrant issued June 17, (while he was in Montréal). Charged with seditious conspiracy.

John Queen
Born: Lanarkshire, Scotland, 1882
Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Alderman for Ward 5 (North End). Member of Social Democratic Party and business agent / advertising manager for the Western Labor News. Arrested June 17 on multiple charges of sedition.

Abram Albert "A.A." Heaps
Born: Leeds, England, 1885
Member of Social Democratic Party, oversaw operations for the strike committee. Arrested June 17, 1919 on charges of sedition.

George Armstrong
Born: 1870 Scarborough, Ontario, 1870
Union Organizer, member of Socialist Party, prominent Marxist. Arrested June 17 on seven counts of seditious conspiracy

Roger Bray
Born: Sheffield, England
Butcher, Lay Methodist preacher, spokesman for returned soldiers and leader of veterans’ parades. Arrested June 17 on multiple charges of seditious conspiracy

William A. (Bill) Pritchard
Born: Salford, England, 1888.
B.C.-based, editor of socialist newspaper and OBU delegate. Warrant issued for arrest for sedition, captured on a train in Calgary while returning to B.C.

Friday, July 31

Strike! The Musical July 30th - August 5th

July 30th - August 5th, 2009

The first annual run of Strike! at Winnipeg's Canwest Performing Arts Centre at the Forks, Winnipeg. Show times for this 8-show limited engagement are 8:00 PM daily with an additional 2:00 PM Sunday matinée on August 2nd.

For More Info

Thursday, July 30

Reconstruction from the Viewpoint of Labor

After the strike, J.S. Woodworth released Reconstruction From the Viewpoint of Labor.

The time has come now when we must figuratively sit down and ask ourselves two questions: 1. what do we want and 2. how are we going to get it.

Sunday, July 26

Citizens Committee Briefing Book

In 1920 the Citizens Committee of 1000 published a 30 page briefing booklet about the strike.

A goal of the Committee was to share "best practises" with other communities that are, or may, deal with large-scale labour unrest. During and after the strike members would make presentations (see earlier entry for Moose Jaw).
This booklet outlines the history of the strike from their point of view. It also provides great detail about the organization and activities of the committee. The final section is a detailed "how to" guide when it comes to dealing with unrest and how to set up a civilian government should the unrest turn to a general strike.

Tuesday, July 21

Workers' Defence Fund and Liberty Bonds

Set up after the arrests during the strike, the Workers' Defence Fund appealed for money to go toward court costs. This is from the June 26 Enlightener:

Eventually your donation would get you a paper "bond".

Front and back of bond. Source

Monday, July 20

July 20, 1919: Defence Fund Fundraisers

From Western Labour News, July 11, 1919

Friday, July 17

17 July 1919 - The Robson Commission

While the trials were going through the courts the Justice H.A. Robson's Royal Commission was sputtering to get started.

Manitoba Free Press 17 July 1919

Sunday, July 12

July 1919 - 'The Robson Commission'

The "Royal Commission to enquire into and report upon the causes and effects of the General Strike which recently existed in the City of Winnipeg for a period of six weeks, including the methods of calling and carrying on such strike" (often short-titled to the Royal Commission on the Winnipeg General Strike or "The Robson Commission") was created in July 1919 by the Manitoba Government and chaired by Hugh Amos Robson.

The report, which can be read in it's entirety here, was underway but would not report back to the Province until November 6, 1919 and the report would not be made public until March 29, 1920 (I won't release the results until then either !).

Image source and a more detailed bio:
The Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba, 1870-1950 By Dale Brawn, Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History

Saturday, July 11

July 1919 - Woodsworth's Incarceration In His Own Words

Woodsworth was arrested the night of June 21st. In July 1919, while out on bail, he wrote of his time at Stony Mountain.

Tuesday, July 7

Monday, July 6

The strike is not done yet ! A musical interlude !

Just taking a breather until mid-July. There are trials and other aftermath still cover !

If you did not catch the outdoor performance of Danny Schur's Strike The Musical, or if you did and you are till tapping your toes, you can catch excerpts on Weds July 8 from Noon to 1 pm at Centre Court, Portage Place.

This is all in aid of the full length theatrical debut from Jul 30 - Aug 5 at the Canwest Performing Arts Centre (Theatre for Young People) venue at The Forks. Info for that can be found here.