When the Great Depression hit in the early 1930s, many Canadians experienced difficult times. Single unemployed men, often not eligible for financial or relief support within their communities, were among the worst off. The only option for many of these men was to join "Bennett's relief camps," which were designed in large part to keep them out of trouble, and were considered by its workers to be no better than "slave camps." Conditions were so deplorable that, in 1935, a group of men rallied themselves and set out on an "On-to-Ottawa Trek," which culminated, in Regina, in blood and brutality rather than better working conditions.

Sung to the tune of Home on the Range

And we're on the tramp
From Bennett's slave camp,
Our demands before him we will place
We will soon be there
And we want no hot air
And he won't get no thirty days grace

Excerpt from: "We Were the Salt of the Earth!": The On-To-Ottawa Trek and the Regina Riot, Victor Howard (Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, 1985).

Just wherever they could hit him, they were hitting him on the head, and anywhere they could - arms and everything, and, well he was kind of smothered there with blood, you couldn't tell who he was. . . you could see he was a man. . . And I walked towards them. . . and I saw one of them that I knew,. . .a sergeant, Tommy Logan, and I said to him, "What are you doing here, are you trying to kill him.

Jacob Brunner before the Regina Riot Inquiry Commission, as quoted in Howard.

Link to the Social Progress Gallery