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Toronto Workers Respond to Industrial Capitalism, 1867-1892

Toronto Workers Respond to Industrial Capitalism, 1867-1892

Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 415
  • Book Info
    Toronto Workers Respond to Industrial Capitalism, 1867-1892
    Book Description:

    Winner of the Canadian Historical Association's Macdonald Prize in 1980 for the year's outstanding contriution to our understanding of Canada's past.

    Toronto's industrial revolution of the 1850s and 1860s transformed the city's economy and created a distinct working class. Gregory S. Kealey's award-winning study examines the workers' role in the transition to industrial capitalism and traces the emergence of a strong trade union movement n the latter half of the nineteenth century.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8268-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Gregory S. Kealey
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Preface to the 1991 edition
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. xix-xxiv)

    This work was first conceived in the late 1960s at the University of Toronto. Those were exciting and stimulating years in North American universities, and many accepted dogmas came under rigorous re-examination. Canadian history was one discipline which did not stand up well to the new styles of questioning then prevalent. The Canadian historiographical tradition has been extremely narrow except for a brief flowering in the 1930s when, under the leadership of Harold Innis, considerable useful work was done on the Canadian political economy. After the 1930s, however, Canadian history retreated into biography and into politics quite narrowly and traditionally...

  8. PART ONE Toronto’s Age of Capital

    • 1 Toronto and a national policy
      (pp. 3-17)

      Between the late 1840s and the early 1890s Canada experienced its own industrial revolution. Toronto, Canada’s second largest city, played a major role in this transformation. Its capitalists led the strategic drive for protective tariffs, enabling native industries to thrive and prosper; its working class provided the leadership for organized labour in central Canada.

      Most Canadian economic history to date has dealt mainly with the role of staple exports in Canadian development.¹ They have been viewed as dominating the economy until the early twentieth century, when finally some attention is paid to industrial development.² Although suggestive when first pursued in...

    • 2 Toronto’s industrial revolution
      (pp. 18-34)

      The triumphant march of industrial capitalism is apparent in any analysis of the Toronto economy in the years 1850 to 1890. By the 1840s capitalist handicraft production had firmly established itself in the city. The 1850s witnessed a consolidation of handicrafts into manufactories either through uniting various different craftsmen as in carriage-making (wheelwrights, blacksmiths, carpenters, painters, and others), or through an ever-increasing division of labour, as in shoemaking (cutters, fitters, makers, and so on). Although much larger than the artisan’s shop and displaying an increased division of labour, the manufactory was still largely dependent on hand production. From the 1860s...

  9. PART TWO Toronto Workers and the Industrial Age

    • 3 Shoemakers, shoe factories, and the Knights of St Crispin
      (pp. 37-52)

      Toronto workers experienced the transformation to industrial capitalism in different ways and at different times. By the 1860s they all shared a life in an industrial capitalist society, but the ways in which it affected them at their place of work varied dramatically from craft to craft. Toronto shoemakers, for example, were among the first to face a serious assault on their craft by the new factories, which were well established by 1871. In response, shoemakers created, in the late 1860s and early 1870s, one of the strongest and most important of the first wave of international unions in North...

    • 4 Coopers encounter machines: the struggle for shorter hours
      (pp. 53-63)

      The experience of coopers in Toronto and throughout Ontario in the late 1860s and early 1870s provides another example of artisan response to industrial capitalism. Although their reaction was less dramatic than the Crispins’ Luddism, the coopers shared with the shoemakers the unfortunate fate of watching the destruction of their craft by a combination of mechanization, the rise of factory production, the depression of the 1870s, and an all-out employer offensive.

      The making of barrels was a very old handicraft steeped in tradition. In England, the United States, and the Canadas coopers enjoyed all the prerogatives of the skilled artisan....

    • 5 Toronto metal-trades workers and shop-floor control
      (pp. 64-82)

      Skilled workers in the nineteenth century exercised far more power than is generally realized. Well into the industrial period craftsmen, through their trade unions, played important roles in community affairs, in politics, and especially on the job. As we have already seen, in Toronto work places, some craftsmen used their monopoly on skill and experience to dictate terms to their employers in a wide array of areas which gave to these late-nineteenth-century craftsmen a high degree of control over production. This chapter will describe two groups of Toronto metal-trades workers from the early 1860s to the 1890s to illustrate further...

    • 6 Printers and mechanization
      (pp. 83-97)

      Publishing, as we have seen earlier, was one of Toronto’s major industries. The printers who worked in Toronto’s newspaper and job shops played an important role in the history of trade unionism. Toronto’s first union, established in 1832, lapsed in late 1836, but it was refounded in early 1844 and has had a continuous existence since then.¹ The Toronto Typographical Society, after considerable debate, joined the National Typographical Union in May 1866, becoming Toronto Typographical (TTU) Union, No. 91.² With the subsequent addition of other Canadian locals, the National became the International Typographical Union (ITU) in 1869.³

      In addition to...

    • 7 The Orange Order in Toronto: religious riot and the working class
      (pp. 98-123)

      Toronto, like other North American cities, received part of the massive emigration from the British Isles in the nineteenth century. On arrival these immigrants immediately created institutions to alleviate the dislocating effects of the transatlantic voyage, and in Toronto the predominance of Protestant immigrants made the Orange Order one of the largest ethnic voluntary associations there. The city even became known as ‘The Belfast of Canada.’¹

      The order’s importance in the political sphere and the Orangemen’s propensity to engage in riot and other forms of collective violence have gained them some historical attention. Unfortunately most Canadian historians, in their haste...

    • 8 The Toronto working class enters politics: the nine-hours movement and the Toronto junta
      (pp. 124-153)

      In this book I have examined so far the transformation of the Toronto economy and the immediate and direct response of the working class to change through an analysis of trade unions, strikes, and other workplace activities. The working-class world, however, neither began nor ended at the factory gate. Although this book cannot study all the aspects of Toronto workers’ lives, their politics demand attention. A history of their response to industrial capitalism must consider their ideology and political behaviour as they developed in this period. In this chapter I shall analyse workers’ politics in Toronto from 1867 to 1878,...

    • 9 The national policy and the Toronto working class
      (pp. 154-172)

      There can be no question that the economic downswing and the decline of trade-union militancy played a significant role in the resurgence of working-class partyism. The junta had fought hard for Canadian workers and had won some extremely important legislative victories that represented ‘the first stage in the creation of the legal prerequisites for freedom of association in Canada.’¹ From the very first moments of intra-city and inter-city trade-union organization, questions emerged regarding the role of the working class in politics. The campaign for shorter hours and the subsequent prosecution of the Toronto printers had made perfectly clear the necessity...

  10. PART THREE Crisis in Toronto

    • 10 Organizing all workers: the Knights of Labor in Toronto
      (pp. 175-215)

      The economic recovery of the early 1880s which coincided with the Tory return to Ottawa led to renewed trade-union activity. The relative quiet of the late 1870s was quickly forgotten in the spring strike waves of 1881 and 1882 which swept through the Toronto crafts and in which even many unskilled workers participated.¹

      This renewed energy found its institutional manifestations in the new labour bastions – the Toronto Trades and Labour Council (TTLC) and the Trades and Labor Congress of Canada (TLC). Skilled craftsmen played the leading organizational role in the re-emergence of local and national central union bodies. The Toronto...

    • 11 Partyism in decline
      (pp. 216-236)

      The relationship between the economy and trade-union activity largely determined the political behaviour of the working class in the 1870s. The economic militancy and organizational gains of the early years of that decade shaped the political contours of the subsequent period. Class struggle in 1871 and 1872 created the climate which forced the Canadian government to take the initial steps towards legitimizing trade-unionism as an integral component of industrial capitalist society. By the latter years of the decade, however, the failure of trade unions to resist the employer encroachments accompanying the ever-deepening depression once again shifted the balance of class...

    • 12 1886–1887: a year of challenge
      (pp. 237-253)

      The Howland victory, labour’s first major political success, set the tone for the turbulence of 1886. Not since the unrest of 1872 had the Toronto working class been so visible. The organizational surge of the Knights, their victory over the Masseys, and the upheaval of the street-railway strikes, all led to the enthusiastic labour campaigns in the following winter’s Ontario and federal elections.News’ cartoonist S. Hunter captured the spirit of 1886 in his warning to Blake and Macdonald, ‘A Political Cold Snap.’News’ columnists were no less enthusiastic:

      The [mayoralty] contest... has left organized labour in a position far...

    • 13 Partyism ascendant
      (pp. 254-273)

      The year 1887 had not started well for Toronto labour. The electoral defeats led to a round of acrimonious wrangling in which all the participants lost. The immediate issue was the interpretation of the election. A.W. Wright’sCanadian Labor Reformerargued that the Toronto and Hamilton results made clear that Grit voters had abandoned labour. This point was debatable, but the editorial then attacked D.J. O’Donoghue, Thomas Moor, and John Armstrong for taking the stump for the old-line parties during the campaign, especially since some of them (read O’Donoghue and Moor) had earlier attacked Sam Heakes for precisely the same...

    • 14 Radicalism and the fight for the street railway
      (pp. 274-290)

      Partyism then remained a strong force in the Toronto working-class world, but there were other political traditions and new modes of thought available to Toronto workers with more radical implications. These ideas were never seized upon by all Toronto workers but, nevertheless, they occupied a prominent place in the cultural landscape that surrounded and influenced workers’ choices. We can deal only fleetingly with a few here – Irish Nationalism, Anti-Poverty and Single-Tax Societies, and Bellamyite Nationalism.¹

      Irish Nationalism had travelled a precarious course in Orange Toronto especially after the Fenian raids’ fiasco in the late 1860s.² Nevertheless, it emerged from its...

    • 15 Conclusion
      (pp. 291-296)

      The cultural, organizational, and political activities of Toronto workers in the late-nineteenth century were deeply rooted in the transition to industrial capitalism and in the rapid economic growth that ensued. Toronto was a vastly different city in 1891 than it had been only 25 years before. It had almost tripled in population, its industrial production had quadrupled in value, and the capital invested in its industries had increased by 725 per cent. In 1891 Toronto stood poised to enter yet another phase of capitalist development. A huge influx of American capital and a massive merger movement in the years before...


    • I Toronto’s industrial revolution, tables
      (pp. 299-318)
    • II Toronto strikes, 1867–1892
      (pp. 319-322)
    • III Selected biographies of Toronto labour leaders, 1867–1892
      (pp. 323-329)
    • IV Toronto franchise and election results, 1867–1891
      (pp. 330-336)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 337-406)
  13. Index
    (pp. 407-420)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 421-421)