"On the face of every worker was the cheerful, optimistic smile of confidence in the justice of their cause."
As a flashpoint for worker unity, the strike and its accompanying effects on labour laws and unionization forever changed work in Winnipeg and beyond. This site focuses on the architecture of the conflict, and the stories of Winnipeg's early twentieth century architecture and social uprising.
December 22 1918
Socialist Party of Canada holds famous mass rally at Walker Theatre.
February 14 1918
Ukrainian Labor Temple celebrates its grand opening.
Twenty-four Winnipeg unions represented at an organizing convention for One Big Union in Calgary. Intense internal political conflict within Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council (WTLC) over radicals’ push for industrial unionism and greater militancy.
May 1-2 1919
Building Trades and Metal Trades councils strike over union recognition, wages, working conditions.
May 6 1919
WTLC announces vote of all union members will be held on whether to launch a sympathetic general strike to support striking building and metal trades councils.
May 13 1919
WTLC announces at James Street Labor Temple that members voted overwhelming in favour of a sympathetic general strike. Strike Committee of 300 members selected.
May 15 1919
Union members and unorganized workers – women and men, Canadians and immigrants – join in massive strike action. City closed down.
May 16 1919
City's business elites create the anti-strike Citizens' Committee. General Ketchen, allied with Citizens’ Committee, orders 5,000 soldiers in the city back to their barracks.
May 22 1919
Federal cabinet ministers, accompanied by members of the Citizens’ Committee, arrive in Winnipeg. They ignore the Strike Committee.
May 23 1919
Large group of veterans vote to support strike. Others support Citizens’ Committee.
May 25 1919
Federal and provincial governments order strikers back to work and to sign anti-union pledge. They threaten to fire those who refuse to do so. Mass meeting at Victoria Park rejects both ultimatums.
May 30 1919
Helen Armstrong arrested in confrontation for supporting bakery workers. She is arrested more times than anyone else during the strike and put in jail.
June 1 1919
Thousands of returned veterans supporting the strike march to Manitoba Legislature.
June 2 & 6 1919
Women of Weston and Brooklands neighbourhoods lead crowds and prevent delivery wagons without “By Permission of the Strike Committee” signs – driven by non-strikers – from entering their neighbourhoods.
June 3 1919
Winnipeg newspapers print Citizens’ Committee advertisements demanding the deportation of “alien” workers. Winnipeg strikers gathering support from labour organizations across Canada.
June 5 1919
Thousands of pro-strike veterans march across Winnipeg and along Wellington Crescent. This taking of the strike to Crescentwood, the home of the elites, alarms Citizens’ Committee supporters. Mayor bans further marches.
June 6 1919
Federal government introduces amendments to Immigration Act to deport any person not born in Canada accused of sedition. British citizens may also now be deported.
June 7 1919
JS Woodsworth, Methodist minister and committed social reformer, returns to Winnipeg from Vancouver. Speaks at a Labor Church meeting of 10,000 at Victoria Park.
June 9 1919
Police ordered to sign anti-strike pledge. They refuse and are fired. Citizens’ Committee recruits “Special Police.” (Specials) to replace them.
June 10 1919
Specials on horseback chased from corner of Portage and Main by a large crowd of strikers and supporters.
June 12 1919
“Ladies Day” mass rally held in Victoria Park.
June 14 1919
Thousands attend soldiers’ parliament meeting in Victoria Park.
June 16-17 1919
In the night, police raid homes of strike leaders and arrest them. Others are arrested over the following days. Ukrainian Labor Temple and (Jewish) Liberty Temple are raided. Hundreds of police surround and raid James Street Labor Temple.
June 18 1919
Arrests of strike leaders protested across the country.
June 21 1919
Bloody Saturday: Six strike leaders released on bail, but the European “aliens” held for deportation hearings remain imprisoned. Crowds gather in front of city hall in support of veterans’ silent parade to protest arrests. Crowds and police clash. Two dead, many injured. Armed military units patrol downtown streets with machine guns.
June 23 1919
Determined strikers rally in Victoria Park. Police close the park and military troops are ordered back onto streets.
June 25 1919
With two supporters dead, many others assaulted, leaders arrested and workers “reduced to a state of terror,” the WLTC calls off strike (Masters, p. 110).