Winnipeg General Strike
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.
Each day for 150 days leading up to the opening of the Canadian History Hall, we’re presenting one moment among the many that have shaped our country. Discover more of Canada’s significant historical events in the new Canadian History Hall, opening July 1, 2017.