Winnipeg General Strike

May 15, 2017

Streetcar overturned by strikers in Winnipeg

Streetcar overturned by strikers in Winnipeg, June 21, 1919, L. B. Foote. Archives of Manitoba, N2762

May 15, 1919

On May 15, 1919, some thirty thousand Winnipeg workers — angry about high inflation, dismal working conditions and minimal labour rights — joined a building-trades strike already in progress. Supported by the police force and ten thousand returning veterans, they shut down the city. Sympathy strikes were called in Brandon, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Regina, Vancouver, New Westminster and Victoria, and as many as twenty other towns. Winnipeg police officers who took part were fired, and the federal government threatened to deport foreign-born unionists. On June 21, the Royal North West Mounted Police used force against strikers on what became known as “Bloody Saturday.” Though the strike was crushed in June, it inspired workers to organize unions and to continue to fight for collective bargaining rights nationwide.

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