Throughout 2019, ALHI will be posting vignettes regarding the Great Labour Revolt of 1919. Events commemorating this centennial will be held throughout the province later in 2019 with a focus on what the events of 1919 mean today for the strategies of working people to create better lives in a society where they still exercise little real control over their workplaces and communities.
This page is an archive of all of the vignettes, as well as some other resources.
1919: THE GREAT LABOUR REVOLT
An international uprising of workers followed World War I. The best known Canadian manifestation was the Winnipeg General Strike. Less known is that Alberta workers joined the 1919 uprising against capitalist exploitation and economic instability with two general strikes (Edmonton and Calgary) and a shutdown of the province’s large coal-mining sector. This video uses the workers’ words to tell the story of why they chose to revolt and call for a different power structure in which workers’ needs would outweigh capitalists’ unlimited demands for profits. We hear from miners, telephone operators, packinghouse workers, nurses, housewives, and organizers of restaurant workers, among others, about what life was like for working people and how they envisioned taking matters into their own hands to change everything. The voices you hear in this video are voices of both professional actors and amateurs knowledgable about the communities they are representing. But the words are the documented statements of workers of 1919. The workers in the video are composite characters whose words come from testimonies before such organizations as the Mathers Commission, a federal royal commission in 1919 established to study the causes of worker unrest in Canada.
The 1919 Workers’ Revolt In Calgary: a series of information panels about the 1919 strike in Calgary, developed by a team that included people from ALHI.
THE GREAT LABOUR REVOLT, 1919 – ALHI’S LATEST BOOKLET
“The Great Labour Revolt, 1919” is ALHI’s latest booklet. Written by historian Alvin Finkel, the president of the Alberta Labour History Institute, “The Great Labour Revolt, 1919” focuses on general strikes and the larger strike wave of 1919 in Alberta. it provides the first-person stories that explain why workers went on strike, placing the Alberta strikes in their national and international context. Download the book (in PDF) by clicking here.
A digital exhibit on the Winnipeg General Strike was launched on May 15, 2019. The completed exhibit is now available in its entirety at the following link: 1919strike.lib.umanitoba.ca