Sunday, June 21

Saturday Afternoon, 21 June 1919 - Bloody Saturday Begins

Sequence of events from Confrontation at Winnipeg.
Click on images for source information. Please click on images for source.

10:30 am: A delegation from the pro-strike Veterans meet with Mayor Gray and Federal Labour Minister Gideon Robinson at the Royal Alexandra Hotel on Main Street to try to reach a compromise about today's planned march.

The Veterans want to march from City Hall to the Royal Alex where they hope Robertson will address them and then on to the Citizens' Committee headquarters.

The Mayor advises that such a march is against his proclamation of a few days before and that force could be used to break it up. The delegation would only agree to call off the march if the strike was ended by 2 pm and that the streetcars scheduled to run today are taken off-track.

No resolution is reached.

1:45 pm: Police Chief Newton contacts Mayor Gray at the hotel to say that a large crowd is gathering.

The mayor advises Newton to inform RNWMP Commissioner Perry to have his 'specials' and Perry's mounties on the streets.

2:30 pm: At Main and William a large crowd is gathered waiting to form the march.

A streetcar travels from the north toward the crowd. Angered by the gesture, as streetcar service was shut down due to the strike, they surround it but the car makes it though.

Moments later, another streetcar traveling north is not so lucky. It is pulled from the wires and trashed. Unable to overturn it, the streetcar is set on fire.

Meanwhile, the NWMP were set up near Portage and Main and start off on their first, slow, pass through the crowd. Some insults are hurled and a missile or two thrown but it is uneventful.

On the return pass from James Street back toward Portage, one officer's horse trips on the bumper of the trashed streetcar. The officer is dragged and a member of the crowd begins to attack him. At this point officers draw their weapons.

2:35 pm: Mayor Gray, looking on from the balcony at City Hall, reads the riot act and gives the crowd 30 minutes to depart. As he turns to go back inside, the sound of the first shot is heard - it is believed that an RNWMP officer fired a warning volley in the air.

At that point, chaos breaks out. Some in the crowd are frightened and stampede for safety. Some fights break out between strikers and policemen, missiles are hurled at those on horseback and more shots are fired.

2:45 pm: The Mayor leaves for Fort Osborne Barracks to ask Ketchen to send in the militia consisting of cavalry and motorized machine gun units.

Slowly, but surely, the troops would clear the streets. A combination of military, special constables and RNWMP would stay on guard until midnight.

That day there were a number of people shot and injured and scores arrested, the full extent of which would not be known until late in the day.

Sequence of events from Confrontation at Winnipeg.
Click on images for source information.

Saturday, 21 June 1919 (a.m.) - Proclamation

Source, Winnipeg Free Press (morning edition)

Saturday, 21 June 1919 - The Morning Newsstand

Tension is high today.

This morning there is a lot of talk about today's big rally by veterans outside city hall. They're protesting a number of things, including the arrest of strike leaders and demand the return of the regular police force and posties, both of whom have been fired en mass.

The mayor has reminded them that such rallies are prohibited and that they take part at their own risk.

The Telegram says on its front page that Serious Turmoil This Afternoon Almost Certain.

Western Labor News

- More on the arrest of the strike leaders.

Winnipeg Citizen - No edition today

Winnipeg Telegram Strike Edition

- Strike Committee demands release of foreigh born leaders.

Winnipeg Free Press

- Gives the sense that there is an end to the strike coming soon:

Their editorial for today begins: