During the First World War, while Canadian soldiers overseas were fighting valiantly for their country, the men and women at home, who furnished them with machines, vehicles, clothing and food, were doing the same. These workers expected their sacrifice to bring about a better world — not just overseas but in Canada as well, and they were desperately disappointed when the situation at home remained unchanged. Their frustration found expression in a series of strikes held across the country between 1917 and 1920.

"If this European war does not dislocate the spine of capitalism ... it will certainly give it a jolt. It is beyond reason that ... men ... will return to civil life without first having many of their previous ideas knocked out of them by ... the war. It is inconceivable that they should return to their previous walks of life and find conditions ... far worse than before the war, and expect them to tamely submit to those harsher circumstances of life."

B.C. Federationist, March 13, 1917

Motor buses/railway strike 1917
Reading of a speech made by Thomas Willis before the 
Royal Commission on Industrial Relations.  Quoted in 
The English Canadian Labour Press and the Great War. Save and Serve
"God did not work wonders to feed and clothe a few worthless parasites with the riches of an empire, to fill up their cups out of the tears of orphans and widows, or of mothers robbed of their sons. God did not intend that so universal a blessing big enough for us all should be directed underground in to the obscure, narrow channel of a few private purses, leaving so many loyal, suffering people to sigh and mourn over this destitute condition in the day of public joy."

Labor News, 6 December 1918

(Excerpts from: "The English Canadian Labour Press and the Great War," Vincent Rendell Porter (M.A. thesis, Memorial University, 1981)).

Link to the Social Progress Gallery