Profile: Clare Botsford’s businessman father had gambled on the grain exchange and was bankrupted when the Depression struck. He moved his large family to the decrepit Edmonton “Cold Water Flats” building for people on social assistance. The children tried to help their destitute families by picking up wood boxes and turning them into kindling for sale. Botsford was looking for boxes downtown on December 20, 1932, the day when 12,000 Hunger Marchers assembled in Market Square. She viewed in horror as police clubbed participants. That experience and later job experiences where employers sexually harassed desperate female staff radicalized Botsford. She and her husband moved to the USA, but returned to Canada when his work injury and her ill health left them without means to acquire health insurance. Returning to Canada, they joined the fight for medicare in Saskatchewan in 1962. When she returned to Edmonton, she became active in the NDP and later in life in the Seniors’ Action and Liaison Team. Her Depression experiences made her a lifelong socialist activist.
Keywords: Child labour; Cold Water Flats; Great Depression; Hunger March, Edmonton, 1932; Medicare; NDP; Sexual harassment; Social Assistance.
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See also: Women and Work