On To Ottawa Trek Slideshow
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On To Ottawa Trek Slideshow On To Ottawa Trek Slideshow Presentation Transcript

  • The On-to-Ottawa Trek Domestic Conflict in Canada 1935 Monday, May 25, 2009 1
  • Economic Background • problems with the economy developed shortly before the Stock Market Crash of 1929, and got quickly worse in the early 1930s, creating an economic crisis that would last 10 years - it was called the Great Depression Monday, May 25, 2009 2
  • Economic Background • the Great Depression brought mass unemployment to cities and towns in Canada • people lost jobs whether they worked in natural resources (e.g. pulp & paper, mining, farming), transportation (e.g. railways), or manufacturing (e.g. factories)... hardest hit was construction • retailing and other services were less affected Monday, May 25, 2009 3
  • Economic Background • no province had unemployment insurance • some Canadians could get help when they lost their jobs, by going to municipal governments (town and city level) for relief relief: social assistance - in the 1930s, it was also called “going on the pogey,” “going on the dole,” or simply welfare Monday, May 25, 2009 4
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s:* Monday, May 25, 2009 5 *Amounts provided in colour were located through Statistics Canada, and are approximations and averages based on information provided for three major cities: Halifax, Montreal, Toronto. For more specific data, please see Statistics Canada online.
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s:* Building Trade Avg $ @ 44 hours Annual Equals, Workers Pd/Hour per week Income today: Bricklayers & Masons 0.90 $39.60 $2,059.20 $26,888.55 Carpenters, Sheet- Metal Workers, 0.70 $30.80 $1,601.60 $20,913.31 Stone Cutters Electrical Workers, 0.80 $35.20 $1,830.40 $23,900.93 Plasterers, Plumbers Painters 0.60 $26.40 $1,372.80 $17,925.70 General Labourers 0.45 $19.80 $1,029.60 $13,444.27 Monday, May 25, 2009 5 *Amounts provided in colour were located through Statistics Canada, and are approximations and averages based on information provided for three major cities: Halifax, Montreal, Toronto. For more specific data, please see Statistics Canada online.
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s: Monday, May 25, 2009 6
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s: Metal Trade Avg $ @ 44 hours Annual Equals, Workers Pd/Hour per week Income today: Blacksmiths, 0.70 $30.80 $1,601.60 $20,913.31 Boilermakers Machinists, 0.60 $26.40 $1,372.80 $17,925.70 Moulders Monday, May 25, 2009 6
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s: Monday, May 25, 2009 7
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s: Avg $ @ 46 hours Annual Equals, Printing Trades Pd/Hour per week Income today: Compositors, Machine & Hand (arranging type for 0.87 $40.00 $2,080.00 $27,160.15 printing) - News Compositors, Machine & Hand (see above) - Job; 0.76 $35.00 $1,820.00 $23,765.13 Pressmen, News Pressmen, Job 0.65 $30.00 $1,560.00 $20,370.11 Bookbinders 0.70 $32.00 $1,664.00 $21,728.12 Bindery Girls 0.24 $11.00 $572.00 $7,469.04 Monday, May 25, 2009 7
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s: Monday, May 25, 2009 8
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s: Electric Railways Avg $ @ 44 hours Annual Equals, (e.g. trolleys) Pd/Hour per week Income today: Conductors & 0.56 $24.64 $1,281.28 $16,730.65 Motormen Linemen, 0.60 $26.40 $1,372.40 $17,920.48 Electricians Shop and Barn 0.50 $22.00 $1,144.00 $14,938.08 Trackmen and 0.40 $17.60 $915.20 $11,950.47 Labourers Monday, May 25, 2009 8
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s: Monday, May 25, 2009 9
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s: Unskilled Factory Avg $ @ 44 hours Annual Equals, Labour Pd/Hour per week Income today: Factory Workers, in 0.35 $15.40 $800.80 $10,456.66 general Monday, May 25, 2009 9
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s: Amount per Equals, If you needed to pay for... family Total $ today: Beef, sirloin steak 1 lb 0.29 $3.79 Beef, chuck roast 1 lb 0.16 $2.09 Pork, fresh, roast 1 lb 0.22 $2.87 Port, salt mess 1 lb 0.23 $3.00 Bacon, breakfast 1 lb 0.30 $3.92 Eggs, fresh 1 dozen 0.34 $4.44 Milk 1 qt 0.27 $3.53 Monday, May 25, 2009 10
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s: Amount per Equals, If you needed to pay for... family Total $ today: Butter, dairy 1 lb 0.27 $3.53 Cheese 1 lb 0.25 $3.26 Bread, plain white 1 lb 0.06 $0.78 Flour 1 lb 0.03 $0.39 Rolled oats 1 lb 0.05 $0.65 Rice 1 lb 0.09 $1.18 Green Beans 1 lb 0.06 $0.78 Monday, May 25, 2009 11
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s: Amount per Equals, If you needed to pay for... family Total $ today: Dried Apples 1 lb 0.18 $2.35 Sugar 1 lb 0.06 $0.78 Tea, black 1 lb 0.55 $7.18 Coffee 1 lb 0.49 $6.40 Potatoes 1 pkg 0.17 $2.22 Vinegar 1 pt 0.08 $1.04 All foods, weekly budget* 8.49 $110.86 Monday, May 25, 2009 12 *for more complete list of shopping items, see Statistics Canada online.
  • Snapshot of life in Canada in the 1930s: Amount per Equals, If you needed to pay for... family Total $ today: Laundry starch 1 lb 0.12 $1.57 Coal, anthracite (hard) 1 ton 16.06 $209.71 Coal, bituminous (soft) 1 ton 9.84 $128.49 Hardwood 1 cord* 11.70 $152.78 Softwood 1 cord 0.30 $3.92 Coal Oil 1 gallon 0.29 $3.79 Rent 1 month 18.66 $243.66 Monday, May 25, 2009 13 *128 cubic feet, or 3.62 cubic metres
  • Results of Losing your Job in the 1930s... Monday, May 25, 2009 14
  • Results of Losing your Job in the 1930s... • furniture and cars bought on credit (paid for monthly) likely repossessed by the retailer • move to cheaper place to live (voluntarily or evicted) • reduce grocery list to bare necessities to save money • no new clothes, shoes, or hygiene items • hungry children, elders Monday, May 25, 2009 14
  • family being evicted Monday, May 25, 2009 15
  • “Workers Organize to Protect Your Home” Jobless and Employed start trying to fight the economic crisis...scaring the government Monday, May 25, 2009 16
  • Common Perspectives on Working, in the 1930s: Monday, May 25, 2009 17
  • Common Perspectives on Working, in the 1930s: • people needed to be responsible for themselves and their families - accepting charity was shameful • traditionally, the government was not supposed to take care of people • men were the breadwinners and expected to have jobs Monday, May 25, 2009 17
  • Conflicting Points of View: Monday, May 25, 2009 18
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen jobless young men were because their families’ relief would loitering in cities, sleeping on be reduced when they turned 16, park benches, gathering in young men chose to leave home ‘hobo jungles’ next to railway tracks - so many together, unable to find jobs, they were forced to beg & go to charity soup ‘idling’, was a recipe for trouble kitchens for food; had to sleep and a threat to public order wherever they could, even outdoors - building shacks out of leftover relief rates were deliberately lumber and corrugated metal, lower than the wages for the using blankets for tents, they worst-paid forms of work, to created tent cities or ‘hobo jungles’ discourage people from asking near towns, usually close to railway for welfare tracks Monday, May 25, 2009 18
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen jobless young men were because their families’ relief would loitering in cities, sleeping on be reduced when they turned 16, park benches, gathering in young men chose to leave home ‘hobo jungles’ next to railway tracks - so many together, unable to find jobs, they were forced to beg & go to charity soup ‘idling’, was a recipe for trouble kitchens for food; had to sleep and a threat to public order wherever they could, even outdoors - building shacks out of leftover relief rates were deliberately lumber and corrugated metal, lower than the wages for the using blankets for tents, they worst-paid forms of work, to created tent cities or ‘hobo jungles’ discourage people from asking near towns, usually close to railway for welfare tracks Monday, May 25, 2009 18
  • Jobless Men camping in a Hobo Jungle Monday, May 25, 2009 19
  • Unemployed, riding the rods east to look for work... Monday, May 25, 2009 20
  • Unemployed men in Ontario Monday, May 25, 2009 21
  • Conflicting Points of View: Monday, May 25, 2009 22
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • tended to hang out at parks and public libraries, though • when jobs became available, many working-class (blue- married men were given the collar) men were illiterate, so work first because of their reading was not an escape for status as breadwinners them • it was assumed that single men, • were often embarrassed and over 16, would not burden humiliated to apply for relief, their parents by staying home especially when the answer was ‘no’ Monday, May 25, 2009 22
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • tended to hang out at parks and public libraries, though • when jobs became available, many working-class (blue- married men were given the collar) men were illiterate, so work first because of their reading was not an escape for status as breadwinners them • it was assumed that single men, • were often embarrassed and over 16, would not burden humiliated to apply for relief, their parents by staying home especially when the answer was ‘no’ Monday, May 25, 2009 22
  • Conflicting Points of View: Monday, May 25, 2009 23
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • many cities started ‘work for • young single men without jobs wages’ programs to provide did not qualify for many of the their unemployed residents with ‘work for wages’ programs, small jobs around the city - the because they were not money for the programs came ‘breadwinners’ in charge of from municipal, provincial, and families federal sources, but they were managed by city staff • by 1932, even private and religious charities, like churches • by 1932, as the economic crisis got worse, the work projects and the YMCA, couldn’t cope were dropped in exchange for with the numbers of young cash relief payments or men needing assistance to vouchers survive Monday, May 25, 2009 23
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • many cities started ‘work for • young single men without jobs wages’ programs to provide did not qualify for many of the their unemployed residents with ‘work for wages’ programs, small jobs around the city - the because they were not money for the programs came ‘breadwinners’ in charge of from municipal, provincial, and families federal sources, but they were managed by city staff • by 1932, even private and religious charities, like churches • by 1932, as the economic crisis got worse, the work projects and the YMCA, couldn’t cope were dropped in exchange for with the numbers of young cash relief payments or men needing assistance to vouchers survive Monday, May 25, 2009 23
  • Searching for Solutions... Monday, May 25, 2009 24
  • Searching for Solutions... Government Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff, Major-General McNaughton, • was appalled by the thought of young men with no prospects for their futures, poor nourishment, suffering from listlessness (e.g. depressed) • suggested the Prime Minister, R.B. Bennett, that the jobless young men (unmarried, homeless) should be sent to rural relief camps: Monday, May 25, 2009 24
  • The Relief Camp Concept Monday, May 25, 2009 25
  • The Relief Camp Concept the men sent to the camps wouldn’t be allowed to vote, so they wouldn’t support Communist parties seen as threats entering the camps would be voluntary, but men who refused to go would be arrested isolating the jobless, single young men, and dividing the groups which were forming, would prevent a Communist revolution doing work for the government would build up their morale Monday, May 25, 2009 25
  • Relief Camp Workers Monday, May 25, 2009 26
  • Conflicting Points of View: Monday, May 25, 2009 27 -37 in Ontario alone, e.g. near Huntsville, in Dane near Kirkland Lake, and in Kapuskasing
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • 1932, set up relief camps for • wanted to work and would take unemployed men anything they could get rather operated by the Department of than go on relief Defence • did not want to be isolated on located in remote areas, like remote work camps interior of BC, northern Ontario, northern Quebec (to decrease • were frustrated that the possibilities of worker revolution) government could not provide them with meaningful work work included clearing bush, building roads, planting trees, erecting public buildings, • disliked the camps - felt their improving highways, airfields time was being wasted Monday, May 25, 2009 27 -37 in Ontario alone, e.g. near Huntsville, in Dane near Kirkland Lake, and in Kapuskasing
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • 1932, set up relief camps for • wanted to work and would take unemployed men anything they could get rather operated by the Department of than go on relief Defence • did not want to be isolated on located in remote areas, like remote work camps interior of BC, northern Ontario, northern Quebec (to decrease • were frustrated that the possibilities of worker revolution) government could not provide them with meaningful work work included clearing bush, building roads, planting trees, erecting public buildings, • disliked the camps - felt their improving highways, airfields time was being wasted Monday, May 25, 2009 27 -37 in Ontario alone, e.g. near Huntsville, in Dane near Kirkland Lake, and in Kapuskasing
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 28
  • Relief Camp Barracks Monday, May 25, 2009 29
  • Pick & Shovel Work in a Relief CAmp Monday, May 25, 2009 30
  • Conflicting Points of View: Monday, May 25, 2009 31
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • camp conditions were for • called the camps ‘The Royal subsistence living, to encourage Twenty Centers’ because they were men to find work on their own only give 20 cents a day, and they were controlled by the military; men received room, board, also called them ‘slave camps’ medical care, an allowance of • bunked in tar-paper shacks, were $0.20 / day to buy tobacco or given army-surplus clothing, fed other small luxuries army-surplus food camp budget for medical • worked 6 1/2 days a week, 10 assistance was $0.03 per day hours a day budget for food was $0.26 / • often men sent north from Toronto day per man couldn’t take the rigours of winter Monday, May 25, 2009 31
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • camp conditions were for • called the camps ‘The Royal subsistence living, to encourage Twenty Centers’ because they were men to find work on their own only give 20 cents a day, and they were controlled by the military; men received room, board, also called them ‘slave camps’ medical care, an allowance of • bunked in tar-paper shacks, were $0.20 / day to buy tobacco or given army-surplus clothing, fed other small luxuries army-surplus food camp budget for medical • worked 6 1/2 days a week, 10 assistance was $0.03 per day hours a day budget for food was $0.26 / • often men sent north from Toronto day per man couldn’t take the rigours of winter Monday, May 25, 2009 31
  • Relief Camp Allowance Monday, May 25, 2009 32
  • Roadwork by Relief Camp Workers (more pick & shovel) Monday, May 25, 2009 33
  • Conflicting Points of View: Monday, May 25, 2009 34
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • workers also planted gardens, • men had to make their own which helped with their diet and amusements, and depended on the cost of camp operations charities for books and magazines • generally men stayed in the camps for just over 3 months: • some men drifted from camp to camp looking for a change in men were discharged if they scenery, which was hard on the found jobs long-term residents men could also be discharged • men did not have a chance to if they were found to be save any money, because they medically unfit weren’t actually paid Monday, May 25, 2009 34
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • workers also planted gardens, • men had to make their own which helped with their diet and amusements, and depended on the cost of camp operations charities for books and magazines • generally men stayed in the camps for just over 3 months: • some men drifted from camp to camp looking for a change in men were discharged if they scenery, which was hard on the found jobs long-term residents men could also be discharged • men did not have a chance to if they were found to be save any money, because they medically unfit weren’t actually paid Monday, May 25, 2009 34
  • Response of the Camp Inmates: Monday, May 25, 2009 35
  • Response of the Camp Inmates: • became increasingly militant - the isolation and dehumanizing conditions created an ideal situation for organizing workers were desperate, and had the time & contacts to figure out how to take action Relief Camp Workers’ Union formed men shared literature on Communist theories of Marx, Lenin, Stalin men started planning and preparing to strike for ‘work with wages’ Monday, May 25, 2009 35
  • Protest in Victoria Monday, May 25, 2009 36
  • Conflicting Points of View: Monday, May 25, 2009 37
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • by 1934, the RCWU • the RCWU was banned in the camps by the Department of had grown into a National Defence strong, disciplined, any man found carrying a democratic union card or union literature was immediately fired & organization blacklisted • kept watch for police many men with connections to the RCWU were arrested spies who infiltrated their ranks Monday, May 25, 2009 37
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • by 1934, the RCWU • the RCWU was banned in the camps by the Department of had grown into a National Defence strong, disciplined, any man found carrying a democratic union card or union literature was immediately fired & organization blacklisted • kept watch for police many men with connections to the RCWU were arrested spies who infiltrated their ranks Monday, May 25, 2009 37
  • Members of the RCWU walk in Kamloops, B.C. Monday, May 25, 2009 38
  • April, 1935 Monday, May 25, 2009 39
  • April, 1935 1500 members of the RCWU went on strike in B.C., leaving their camps & gathering in Vancouver to demand 1. Wages, of $0.40 an hour 2. 7 hours of work / day 3. 5 day work week 4. Better food - fresh meat, new potatoes, & one package of tobacco every three days 5. Social insurance programs such as compensation for sickness and disability 6. Better unemployment insurance for the jobless 7. An end to military control of the camps 8. Compensation for injuries on the job 9. The right to vote in provincial and federal elections Monday, May 25, 2009 39
  • Relief Camp Workers Union Meeting Monday, May 25, 2009 40
  • Conflicting Points of View: Monday, May 25, 2009 41
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • held controlled and disciplined • ignored the protests, the demonstrations & fundraising picnic, the protests; support from tag days in Vancouver other citizens totaled $5,000 Monday, May 25, 2009 41
  • Conflicting Points of View: Government citizen • held controlled and disciplined • ignored the protests, the demonstrations & fundraising picnic, the protests; support from tag days in Vancouver other citizens totaled $5,000 Monday, May 25, 2009 41
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 42
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 42
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 42
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 42
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  • Monday, May 25, 2009 42
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 42
  • What happened next... Monday, May 25, 2009 43 -the leaders of the strike pinned the mayor and government officials in city hall, refusing to let them out - they said they were prepared to wait as long as he was prepared to go hungry (reminding him that they could outlast him as they’d been hungry a lot more often than he’d been)
  • What happened next... the strikers decided to go directly to Ottawa with their demands - 1600 men left, riding CPR boxcars for transportation Monday, May 25, 2009 43 -the leaders of the strike pinned the mayor and government officials in city hall, refusing to let them out - they said they were prepared to wait as long as he was prepared to go hungry (reminding him that they could outlast him as they’d been hungry a lot more often than he’d been)
  • What happened next... the strikers decided to go directly to Ottawa with their demands - 1600 men left, riding CPR boxcars for transportation were fed by supporters along the way: women’s groups, service clubs, labour councils, churches, unions, caring citizens Monday, May 25, 2009 43 -the leaders of the strike pinned the mayor and government officials in city hall, refusing to let them out - they said they were prepared to wait as long as he was prepared to go hungry (reminding him that they could outlast him as they’d been hungry a lot more often than he’d been)
  • What happened next... the strikers decided to go directly to Ottawa with their demands - 1600 men left, riding CPR boxcars for transportation were fed by supporters along the way: women’s groups, service clubs, labour councils, churches, unions, caring citizens in Calgary, they demanded & received 3 days of relief assistance from the city, and were joined by hundreds of Alberta men Monday, May 25, 2009 43 -the leaders of the strike pinned the mayor and government officials in city hall, refusing to let them out - they said they were prepared to wait as long as he was prepared to go hungry (reminding him that they could outlast him as they’d been hungry a lot more often than he’d been)
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 44
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 44
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 44
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 44
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 44
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 44
  • What happened next... Monday, May 25, 2009 45 -railways were ordered to treat the strikers as trespassers -RCMP was directed to bolster troops in Regina to disperse the trekkers
  • What happened next... number of men was up to 2,000 by the time they reached Regina, Saskatchewan in mid-June in Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, and Toronto, thousands more were waiting to join the On-To-Ottawa Trek Prime Minister Bennett ordered the RCMP to stop the strike the railways were forbidden to take the men any further RCMP were ordered to prepare to use revolvers, gas grenades, spare batons, and handcuffs Monday, May 25, 2009 45 -railways were ordered to treat the strikers as trespassers -RCMP was directed to bolster troops in Regina to disperse the trekkers
  • The Delegation to Ottawa Monday, May 25, 2009 46 -the strikers noticed an RCMP officer hidden behind a curtain in the room, suggesting the PM feared trouble
  • The Delegation to Ottawa • PM Bennett agreed to meet with 8 representatives of the striking relief camp workers in Ottawa ➡the meeting lasted over an hour, and the strikers were not offered seats ➡Bennett constantly interrupted as the leader, ‘Slim’ Evans, presented their demands Monday, May 25, 2009 46 -the strikers noticed an RCMP officer hidden behind a curtain in the room, suggesting the PM feared trouble
  • Bennett’s Response to the Strikers’ Demands Monday, May 25, 2009 47
  • Bennett’s Response to the Strikers’ Demands • accused them of trying to create a revolution, to destroy law and order • said there had been absolute contentment and happiness in the camps until the RCWU had formed • refused to recognize camp committees elected by the inmates to take up grievances with the authorities • accused them of not trying to get work • called the head of the delegation, ‘Slim’ Evans, a thief - Evans then called him a liar, which made it to headlines Monday, May 25, 2009 47
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 48
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 48
  • What happened next... Monday, May 25, 2009 49
  • What happened next... • Bennett was determined to arrest the leaders, who had gone back to disband the protest • the RCMP were given orders to carry out a raid on a meeting of strikers Monday, May 25, 2009 49
  • The Regina Riot - July 1, 1935 Monday, May 25, 2009 50
  • The Regina Riot - July 1, 1935 • several hundred strikers were meeting in Regina’s Market Square to discuss strategy, when they were interrupted: backs of vans opened & Mounties armed with baseball bats got out strikers erected barricades & threw stones Mounties retaliated with .38 revolvers Monday, May 25, 2009 50
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 51
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 51
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 51
  • Monday, May 25, 2009 51
  • The Aftermath Monday, May 25, 2009 52
  • The Aftermath • 1 police detective died • 40 protestors & 5 citizens were wounded • 130 men arrested • property wrecked; sidewalks covered in broken glass • men who were not jailed drifted to other towns & cities, or back to the work camps Monday, May 25, 2009 52
  • The End... Monday, May 25, 2009 53 -170,248 men had stayed in the camps between 1932 and 1936
  • The End... • 1936 - industry began to recover • work camp allowances were changed to $15 / month wages ($0.50 / day), giving the workers more dignity • Bennett’s Conservative government lost the next election; the Liberals promised to close the camps, which they did by the end of the year • work still could not be found for jobless men • seeds were sown for effective unemployment insurance programs Monday, May 25, 2009 53 -170,248 men had stayed in the camps between 1932 and 1936
  • ...was also the Beginning. Monday, May 25, 2009 54 On to Ottawa Historical Society, Vancouver BC, www.ontoottawa.ca, 11/02/02
  • ...was also the Beginning. • many Trekkers, as they came to be known, continued to work for helping labourers • joined other protest movements soon after • volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War • joined politics to fight for union rights, unemployment insurance, social welfare, and medicare...until called to fight in WWII Monday, May 25, 2009 54 On to Ottawa Historical Society, Vancouver BC, www.ontoottawa.ca, 11/02/02