The Workers' Revolt in Canada, 1917-1925

The Workers' Revolt in Canada, 1917-1925

EDITED BY CRAIG HERON
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 392
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442682566
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  • Book Info
    The Workers' Revolt in Canada, 1917-1925
    Book Description:

    A clear, concise portrait of one of the most dramatic moments in the history of working-class life and class relations generally in Canada ? the upsurge of working-class protest at the end of the First World War.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8256-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)
    CRAIG HERON

    On 26 October 1996 a quarter of a million people thronged the streets of Toronto to protest the right-wing agenda of Ontario′s Conservative government. Their ′days of action′ continued a movement that had already shut down London, Hamilton, and Kitchener over the course of the preceding year. Collective memory of such struggles is usually weak enough that few would have realized that their determined action and their slogan ′Organize, Educate, Resist′ placed them in a long tradition of similar working-class resistance. In particular, they would probably have heard little about a workers′ revolt that had begun to gather steam across...

  5. The Great War, the State, and Working-Class Canada
    (pp. 11-42)
    CRAIG HERON and MYER SIEMIATYCKI

    Wars in the modern world are never merely military campaigns. They are rare moments that allow national states to mobilize the resources and collective will of their citizenry to a degree seldom, if ever, attempted during peacetime. The self-interest that drives the capitalist economy and the social relations within in it are challenged by new ideologies of self-sacrifice and national service. At the same time, longstanding social antagonisms can be inflamed by the unusual economic, social, and political conditions of wartime society. In some countries revolutions have erupted. In Canada the First World War eventually disrupted the dynamics of pre-war...

  6. The Maritimes: Expanding the Circle of Resistance
    (pp. 43-86)
    IAN McKAY and SUZANNE MORTON

    Throughout 1919 and 1920 the traditional power bases within Maritime society appeared to be breaking apart. Working-class men and women across the region offered their communities an alternative vision of economic, political, and social reality. Between 1917 and 1925 Maritimers rose in their thousands to demand radical change, creating a successful third party and fighting some of the most spectacular and savage strikes ever seen in Canada. The great revolt of 1917–25 will always confound those who try to create a one-dimensional image of an unchanging, innately conservative Maritimes. However, unlike the Winnipeg General Strike or the On to Ottawa...

  7. Quebec: Class and Ethnicity
    (pp. 87-143)
    GEOFFREY EWEN

    Quebec has generally been ignored in previous discussions of the workers′ revolt even though Quebec workers organized unions and went on strike to an unprecedented degree in the 1914–23 period. Their fierce combativeness and the tangible community support that they received reveal that workers wanted greater influence in politics, more control over the shop floor, and a new relationship with the economic and political elites.

    If the Quebec labour revolt has been neglected, it is partly because Quebec labour historians have focused on the emergence of the Catholic labour movement.¹ By competing for the allegiance of francophone workers, the Catholic...

  8. Southern Ontario: Striking at the Ballot Box
    (pp. 144-175)
    JAMES NAYLOR

    ′The Spirit of Revolt is Everywhere Apparent′ declared Ontario labour journalist Joseph Marks in theIndustrial Bannerin the midst of the First World War.¹ Growing anger at a government that protected profiteers and patronage machines, he argued, had thrown the old political parties into disrepute. Defying censorship regulations, Marks pointed to the massive strike of munitions workers in Hamilton as a sign both of state and employer arrogance and a working-class challenge to the old social order. By the signing of the Armistice in Europe, others had come to share this appraisal. The newly appointed federal labour minister, Gideon...

  9. The Prairies: In the Eye of the Storm
    (pp. 176-230)
    TOM MITCHELL and JAMES NAYLOR

    In the spring of 1919 all eyes were on Winnipeg. This was the point at which the workers′ revolt most visibly strained at the established limits of liberal capitalism. Understanding the events in the Prairie metropolis is to appreciate both the main dynamics of the pan-Canadian revolt and the central place of Winnipeg within it. At the same time, militancy and radicalism were widely diffused through the Prairie west. This chapter will assess how the crisis in class relations reached such proportions in Winnipeg and throughout the region.

    Participants in the events of 1919 and commentators in its aftermath all...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. British Columbia and the Mining West: A Ghost of a Chance
    (pp. 231-267)
    ALLEN SEAGER and DAVID ROTH

    Western Canada obviously did not stand in isolation from other regions during the period of the workers′ revolt. That upsurge of organization and conflict, specifically in the narrow realm of industrial relations and the broader political setting of ′1919,′ unfolded across the nation. The debate over ′western exceptionalism,′ however, has to some extent obscured the significance of the geography of labour protest. The fact that labour′s revolt was part of a national and international experience does not, of course, negate the necessity of regional perspectives. Regional textures of capitalist development and class relations, as well as the broader experience of...

  12. National Contours: Solidarity and Fragmentation
    (pp. 268-304)
    CRAIG HERON

    Rarely in the history of capitalist society do workers stand poised to overthrow the social system in which they live and work. More limited hopes and horizons generally frame their lives. Workers may harbour an intense sense of injustice but feel powerless to achieve redress. They may grumble fatalistically. They may have come to believe that as workers they have no right to expect more from their society. Or they may channel their anger and aspirations into daily trench warfare over terrain marked by more immediate, and more modest, objectives. It takes a major rupture in the material underpinnings of...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 305-314)
    CRAIG HERON

    Something quite fundamentally new and different was happening in working-class Canada between 1917 and 1925. TheWinnipeg Citizenwas convinced it saw ′a determined attempt to establish Bolshevism and the rule of the Soviet here and then to expand it all over this Dominion.′¹ From far across the Atlantic, the Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci was similarly convinced that the struggles of Canadian workers had taken on ′the overt character of a bid to install a soviet system.′² Claims of an impending Russian-style proletarian revolution in Canada were without question exaggerated. Yet this is not to say that Canadian workers had...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 315-355)
  15. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 356-356)
  16. Contributors
    (pp. 357-358)
  17. Index
    (pp. 359-382)