Celebrating May Day: Working Class History in Canada

April 25, 2022 | Bill V.

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May 1st is known world wide as May Day, and celebrated as International Labor Day

To help celebrate May Day, I thought it would be interesting to look at some Canadian labour history.  


Working Lives Essays in Canadian Working Class History

Working Lives: Essays in Canadian Working-Class History:

Craig Heron is one of Canada's leading labour historians...Working Lives covers a wide range of issues within working-class life, including politics, culture, gender, wage-earning and union organization.

See also: Working People: An Illustrated History of the Canadian Labour Movement


Labouring Canada Class  Gender  and Race in Canadian Working-Class History

Labouring Canada: Class, Gender, and Race in Canadian Working-Class History

"This text is a collection of classic and contemporary articles exploring the nature of work in Canadian history from the late eighteenth century to the current day."


Drawn to Change Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle

Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working-Class Struggle

"Canadian labour history and working-class struggles are brought to life in this anthology of nine short comics, each one accompanied by an informative preface."


The Canadian Labour Movement (4th edition 2020)

The Canadian Labour Movement (4th edition 2020) 

"Tells the story of Canada's workers and their unions from the mid-nineteenth century through to today ... such as the birth of draft unionism, the breakthroughs of the fifties and sixties, the setbacks of the twenty-first century and the factors leading to the emergence of today's mega-unions like Unifor."

See also: Building a Better World: An Introduction to the Labour Movement in Canada


Direct Action Gets the Goods A Graphic History of the Strike in Canada

Direct Action Gets the Goods: A Graphic History of the Strike in Canada

The Graphic History Collective has created an illustrated chronicle of the strike, the organized withdrawal of labour power, in Canada.


Magnificent Fight The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike

Magnificent Fight: The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike

"In May 1919, 30,000 Winnipeg workers walked away from their jobs, shutting down large factories, forcing businesses to close and bringing major industries to a halt. Mounted police and hired security, at the behest of the ruling class, violently ended the protest after six weeks. Two men were killed. What started as trade union revolt, the Winnipeg General Strike became a mass protest and was branded as a revolution."

See also:


Cracked How Telephone Operators Took on Canada’s Largest Corporation ... And Won

Cracked: How Telephone Operators Took on Canada’s Largest Corporation ... And Won

"The campaign to unionize Bell Canada's huge workforce of operators, most of them overworked and underpaid women, was a central event in Canada's labour history. Joan Roberts tells the story of how determined campaigners won a major victory for working women, and established new standards for so-called "pink collar" jobs of the day."


Laying It On The Line Driving a Hard Bargain in Challenging Times

Laying It On The Line: Driving a Hard Bargain in Challenging Times

"Buzz Hargrove, the former head of the Canadian Autoworkers (CAW), retired right before the (auto sector) collapse, but not before witnessing the decades of bad decision-making –by federal governments and CEOs–that set the stage for the sudden crisis."

See also:


A Good Day's Work In Pursuit of a Disappearing Canada

A Good Day's Work: In Pursuit of a Disappearing Canada

"The iconic Canada–the country of close-knit small towns, of common geography and history, of meaningful work and communal values and institutions–is being transformed. John DeMont has gone in search of people who make their living the old way, in an attempt to distill the essence of our shared past"


Indigenous Women  Work  and History 1940-1980

Indigenous Women, Work, and History: 1940-1980

"Based on a range of sources including the records of the Departments of Indian Affairs and National Health and Welfare, interviews. print, and media, McCallum shows how state-run education and placement programs were part of Canada's larger vision of assimilation and extinguishment of treaty obligations. Conversely, she also shows how Indigenous women link these same programs to their social and cultural responsibilities of community building and state resistance."


Filipinos in Canada Disturbing Invisibility

Filipinos in Canada: Disturbing Invisibility

"The Philippines became Canada's largest source of short- and long-term migrants in 2010, surpassing China and India, both of which are more than ten times larger. The fourth-largest racialized minority group in the country, the Filipino community is frequently understood by such figures as the victimized nanny, the selfless nurse, and the gangster youth. On one hand, these narratives concentrate attention, in narrow and stereotypical ways, on critical issues. On the other, they render other problems facing Filipino communities invisible."

See also: Moving Beyond Borders: A History of Black Canadian and Caribbean Women in the Diaspora.


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