On the Line: Stories of BC Workers

BC Labour Heritage Centre

Canadian labour history storytelling podcast, produced by volunteers & staff of the BC Labour Heritage Centre on unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) territories. Hosted by labour reporter & author Rod Mickleburgh. read less
HistoryHistory

Episodes

Ep 26: Lenkurt Electric - Turning the Tide
01-05-2024
Ep 26: Lenkurt Electric - Turning the Tide
A 1966 wildcat strike* by 400 mostly women members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) at Lenkurt Electric in Burnaby, BC was a turning point for the province's labour movement. This was a time when courts and police routinely jailed and fined union members during labour disputes, and Canadian members of international unions were demanding more autonomy. The story of the Lenkurt Electric strike is described by Ian McDonald, whose book "The Red Baron of IBEW Local 213: Les McDonald, Union Politics, and the 1966 Wildcat Strike at Lenkurt Electric" will be published in 2024. As a bonus, Bill Hood and The Gram Partisans debut their original song "Lenkurt Electric: Turning the Tide".*wildcat strike: A wildcat strike is a strike that is started by a group of workers without the approval of their union.Music:Theme song: "Hold the Fort” (traditional) - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Episode song: "Lenkurt Electric: Turning the Tide", written and performed by Bill Hood and the Gram Partisans, 2024.Sources:McDonald, Ian. Interview by Patricia Wejr, March 2024.Succamore, Jess. Interview by Sean Griffin and Ian McDonald, 24 February 2018. https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/oral-history/jess-succamore/McDonald, Ian. Red Baron of IBEW Local 213: Les McDonald, union politics, and the 1966 wildcat strike at Lenkurt Electric. AU PRESS, 2024. Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Ep. 25: A Struggle Too Long: Paul Robeson Sings at Peace Arch Park
25-02-2024
Ep. 25: A Struggle Too Long: Paul Robeson Sings at Peace Arch Park
This episode features two larger than life historical figures: Harvey Murphy, regional director of the International Union of Mine Mill and Smelter Workers Union and Paul Robeson, Black American superstar known around the world for his powerful singing voice and a fearless crusader for peace, universal justice and an end to racial discrimination in the United States. This was the cold war era, and the US government had Robeson pegged as a dangerous radical. Prevented from entering Canada to attend the union’s convention in Vancouver, Murphy arranged for a massive concert at Peace Arch Park, about 50 km south of the city. Some 25,000 people came to hear Robeson — standing on the back of a flatbed truck on the US side of the border — perform for the cheering throng in Canada. Host, Rod Mickleburgh, interviews historian Ron Verzuh who has researched and written about the Peace Arch Concert. We also hear the voices of Harvey Murphy and Paul Robeson recorded at the border in 1952.Sources: Verzuh, Ron. Interview. Conducted by Rod Mickleburgh, 7 February 2023. Paul Robeson. "The Peace Arch Concerts." Folk Era Records (1988).Theme song: "Hold the Fort” (traditional) - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. See also:Verzuh, Ron. (2012). Mine-Mill's Peace Arch Concerts: How a "Red" Union and a Famous Singer-Activist Fought for Peace and Social Justice during the Cold War. BC Studies, 61. Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Ep. 24: Tatsuro Buck Suzuki: Community advocate, union activist, environmentalist
05-02-2024
Ep. 24: Tatsuro Buck Suzuki: Community advocate, union activist, environmentalist
We celebrate the life of Tatsuro 'Buck' Suzuki, who spent his life advocating for the West Coast fishing community, first as a young liaison between Japanese Canadians and an industry dominated by Whites, then as a strong trade unionist, and finally, as an early environmental activist, fighting to protect salmon habitat.  Included are recordings of Buck Suzuki  made by the City of Richmond Archives in the 1970s, a few years before he died. We also spoke with Lorene Oikawa. Her father was Buck's cousin, yet she called him 'Uncle Buck'.  Oikawa has carried on his legacy of trade unionism and social activism.For more information:  T. Buck Suzuki FoundationHost: Rod MickleburghResearch and writing: Patricia Wejr Technical wizard: John MabbottSources:Suzuki, Buck. Interview. City of Richmond Archives. April 26, 1973. Suzuki, Buck. Interview. City of Richmond Archives. January 15, 1976.  Music:Theme song: "Hold the Fort” (traditional) - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992.Hewison, George. "Song of the Sockeye." George Hewison, 1982.Hewison, George. "I Don't Want Your Millions Mister"  by Jim Garland (1938), performed by George Hewison and The Rank 'N File Band. "Wonderful tribute to Buck. I recall meeting Buck for the first time at a UFAWU Convention, where my Dad was a delegate and considered Buck, not only a Union Brother, but a good friend. I was about 10 years old and knew a little bit about his legendary story. He was the small boat vice-president of the UFAWU for many years. As Vice President, as the podcast points out, Buck stepped in when Homer and Steve went to jail, but Buck's heroism went well beyond holding office. The 1967 strike and the courts had drained our treasury and we were broke. So Buck got on a plane for Rivers' Inlet and related the union's financial woes to the fleet, and they, mainly fishermen of Japanese ancestry, responded. Buck came back with about $50,000 in CASH to tide the Union over until income started to flow in from regular dues. Buck always spoke softly and eloquently, if not passionately, a true labour giant. Thank you so much to the entire team for telling his story."--George Hewison."In 1981, the UFAWU created the T Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation to take on the work of protecting fish habitat. Buck Suzuki was a union activist. He joined the UFAWU in May 1949 and was instrumental in the fight to bring Japanese-Canadian fishermen back into the industry after WWII. Buck Suzuki was an active fisherman who served 11 terms as Vice-President of the Union and Acting President in 1967-68. He cared deeply about the environment and led the fight to protect the Fraser estuary against industrial pollution. T Buck died in 1977 and was made a Life Member of the Union" -- UFAWU/Unifor FacebookTweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 22:  Darshan Singh Sangha: A Human Spirit that Transcended Boundaries
19-09-2023
Episode 22: Darshan Singh Sangha: A Human Spirit that Transcended Boundaries
This episode chronicles the exploits of someone who made a huge contribution to the early organizing efforts of the International Woodworkers of America and campaigned relentlessly for justice for South Asians like himself during the 1940s. That man is Darshan Singh Sangha. Yet few British Columbians outside the province's large South Asian community know anything about him. It's a captivating story that stretches from the Punjab where he was born, to Canada and then back to India. The episode includes a rare CBC Radio news report from the IWA's 1946 March on Victoria.Host: Rod Mickleburgh Voice of Darshan Singh Sangha: Harinder MahilResearch and writing: Patricia Wejr and Donna SacutaTechnical wizard: John Mabbott Sources:Andrew Neufeld and Andrew Parnaby. “The IWA in Canada: The Life and Times of an Industrial Union.”  IWA Canada, 2000.Donna Sacuta, Bailey Garden and Anushay Malik. "Union Zindabad! South Asian Canadian Labour History in British Columbia." South Asian Studies Institute, University of the Fraser Valley, 2022.Sadhu Binning and Sukhwant Hundal. "Ten Years of Darshan in Canada" in Darshan: A Book on Darshan's Life and Contribution, ed. H. Daudharia (Darshan Singh Sangha 'Canadian' Heritage Foundation, 2004."Strikers at Park Rally Appeal for Victoria Citizens' Support." Times Colonist, 17 May 1946, 2.Sukhwant Hundal's Podcast.  Episode 21: "A Tribute to Darshan Singh Canadian-Oct. 12-1986" Accessed August 10, 2023, https://shows.acast.com/sukhwant-hundals-podcast/episodes/a-tribute-to-darshan-singh-canadian-oct-12-1986News Commentary - Laurie Dillabough and Jim Nesbitt about the International Woodworkers of America and the workers strike on Victoria, B.C. 1946-06-14. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio: Vancouver. ISN 199793. Credit: CBC Licensing.Music: Theme song: "Hold the Fort"  (traditional) - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. "There is Power in a Union"  by Billy Bragg (1986)."IWA Marching Song" by Joe Glazer (1977).Indian Tabla & Veena Music Track - Copyright Free Music via YouTube.Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 21: Construction Unions, the False Creek Rumble and Expo 86
04-07-2023
Episode 21: Construction Unions, the False Creek Rumble and Expo 86
We look at the valiant efforts during the 1980s by B.C.'s unionized building trades to fight off the anti-union Social Credit government determined to break their hold on major construction projects in the province.  It all came to a head in the run-up to Vancouver's World's Fair—Expo 86—and the building of the fair itself.Cheered on by fanatical anti-union contractors, the provincial government wanted to open the door to non-union contractors who bid on and won major projects that previously would have been built using union labour.  Through the voices of union leaders of the day, this episode traces the politics behind the battle that gave the non-union construction sector a toehold which it never relinquished.  This episode includes recordings with retired Building Trades Union executives Gary Kroeker, Bill Zander and Roy Gautier.Host: Rod Mickleburgh Voice of newspaper editorial: Lucie McNeillResearch and writing: Patricia Wejr and Donna SacutaTechnical wizard: John Mabbott Sources:Kroeker, Gary. Interview by Jim Sinclair, May 3, 2017. BC Labour Heritage Centre, https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/oral-history/gary-kroeker/Zander, Bill. Interview by Sean Griffin and Dan Keeton, June 6, 2016. BC Labour Heritage Centre, https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/oral-history/bill-zander/ “Webster! Full Episode January 27, 1984.” YouTube, uploaded by Royal B.C. Museum, 19 May 2016, Copyright: BC Archives, Credit: Jack Webster and BCTV, https://youtu.be/HoVS8aBTzyo “Webster! Full Episode March 19, 1984.” YouTube, uploaded by Royal B.C. Museum, 21 January 2019, Copyright: BC Archives, Credit: Jack Webster and BCTV, https://youtu.be/jtC9zXeQl-A “Webster! Full Episode March 3, 1986.” YouTube, uploaded by Royal B.C. Museum, 29 September 2016, Copyright: BC Archives, Credit: Jack Webster and BCTV, https://youtu.be/L2vJ1OL7pFgMusic:Theme song: "Hold the Fort"  (traditional) - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. "I Don't Want Your Millions Mister"  by Jim Garland (1938), performed by George Hewison and The Rank 'N File Band."Billy and the Socreds" by D.O.A."The Workers Song" by Ed Pickford (1981), performed by The Longest Johns."False Creek Change"  by  Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft (2009), performed by Said the Whale. Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 20: Grit and Working-Class Solidarity: B.C. Workers Respond to the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike
05-04-2023
Episode 20: Grit and Working-Class Solidarity: B.C. Workers Respond to the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike
This episode highlights a remarkable but relatively unknown chapter of working-class solidarity. While waves of sympathy strikes to support the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike took place across Canada, the most pronounced of these was in Vancouver, B.C. Even after workers returned to their jobs, 325 women telephone operators stayed out for another two weeks.This was a time of unsurpassed working-class consciousness and resistance, the likes of which Canada had not seen before, nor since.You will hear from Vancouver's legendary firebrand socialist William Pritchard who spent a year in Manitoba's Stoney Mountain Penitentiary for making speeches during the strike.You'll also hear from seaman Jimmy O'Donnell who arrived in port unaware that a strike was underway, and joined it in the final days, losing his job as a result.SOURCES:Bernard, Elaine. "Last Back: Folklore and the Telephone Operators in the 1919 Vancouver General Strike" in Barbara K. Latham and Roberta J. Pazdo, eds., Not Just Pin Money: Selected Essays on the History of Women's Work in British Columbia (Victoria: Camosun College, 1984). William Pritchard. RG6 Brandon University fonds, Ken Hanly Collection (1974) https://archives.brandonu.ca/en/permalink/descriptions4067Jimmy O'Donnell. Boag Foundation Tapes, BC Labour Heritage Centre Archives.MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort"  (traditional) - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. “Strike!” By Danny Schur and Rick Chafe. http://www.strikemusical.com/home/music/ accessed April 2023"Where the Fraser River Flows" by Joe Hill (1912),  performed by Phil Thomas"Rebel Girl" by Joe Hill (1915), performed by Hazel DickensVoice of newspaper editorial: Lucie McNeillYour affable host: Rod MickleburghResearch and writing: Patricia Wejr and Donna SacutaTechnical wizard: John MabbottMore Resources:The 1919 Prince Rupert General StrikeB.C. Sympathy Strikes in 1919Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 19: Union Maids in Action - The 1918 Steam Laundry Strike
31-01-2023
Episode 19: Union Maids in Action - The 1918 Steam Laundry Strike
A five-month long strike in 1918-1919 by Vancouver laundry workers, most of whom were women, is told through the words of one of its leaders. Ellen Goode began working in a steam laundry at 15, toiling over 10 hours a day, sometimes 60 hours a week. She and her fellow workers formed a union in 1918. In September 1918 they went on strike.  Supported by the rest of the union movement in Vancouver, they gave as good as they got, going after strikebreakers and doing whatever else was necessary to prevail. Workers ended their strike in early January 1919. But that wasn't the end of union support for the laundry workers. Eighty strikers—60 women and 20 men—were not rehired by the vindictive laundry companies. The union movement provided financial assistance to all those blacklisted until they found work. This is truly an extraordinary example of union solidarity and an illustration of just how much the formidable laundry workers had touched union hearts.  Nicol, Janet Mary. “Girl Strikers” and the 1918 Vancouver Steam Laundries Dispute, BC Studies no. 203, 53-81 Autumn 2019. Ellen Goode interview, Sara Diamond fonds, Women’s Labour History Project, VIVO Media Arts Centre retrieved at http://archive.vivomediaarts.com/ellen-barber/#1541915730445-ba5d9b8e-af6eMusic:"Union Maid" (words by Woody Guthrie) modernized and sung by Peggy Seeger with Jack Warshaw retrieved at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CCOx1hqrKI"Union Woman", (music and lyrics by Peggy Seeger) from Different Therefore Equal Folkways Records FS 8561 1979Episode image: "Girls working at mangle in Bonanno Laundry, 12 Foster Wharf. All are 15 years old and go to continuation school." Location: Boston, Massachusetts / Lewis W. Hine, published 1917. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-05196See also: BC Teachers' Federation (2020, September 26). Classroom Resources: The 1918 Vancouver Steam Laundries Strike. TeachBC. Retrieved January 31, 2022, from https://www.bctf.ca/classroom-resources/details/the-1918-vancouver-steam-laundries-strike RESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh. Production by John Mabbott. Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 18: How Many Deaths Will It Take? Remembering the Canadian Farmworkers Union
25-11-2022
Episode 18: How Many Deaths Will It Take? Remembering the Canadian Farmworkers Union
This is the inspiring tale of a group of dedicated individuals who took up the cause of BC’s Fraser Valley Farmworkers who toiled in dreadful, unregulated conditions in the 1970s and ‘80s. It is a saga with death and violence and courageous union organizing. Drawing upon interviews from the University of the Fraser Valley’s South Asian Institute Union Zindabad! Project, led by the BC Labour Heritage Centre, we hear from those who saw the many wrongs taking place in the fertile fields and vowed to do something about it. It was a social movement as much as a unionizing drive and a meaningful story to this day. Raj Chouhan. Interview by Dr. Anushay Malik and Bailey Garden. Union Zindabad! Oral Histories. https://vimeo.com/647845189/cd079d62d4Sarwan Boal. Interview by Dr. Anushay Malik, Donna Sacuta and Bailey Garden. Union Zindabad! Oral Histories. https://vimeo.com/647864515/77bddc099fPaul Gill. Interview by Dr. Anushay Malik. Union Zindabad! Oral Histories. https://vimeo.com/647886074/b1d321eea2Harji Sangra. Interview by Dr. Anushay Malik. Union Zindabad! Oral Histories. https://vimeo.com/647925942/55a2bb3e2bPaul Binning. Interview by Dr. Anushay Malik. Union  Zindabad! Oral Histories. https://vimeo.com/647891048/1d6bb7438eHarinder Mahil. Interview by  Dr. Anushay Malik. Union  Zindabad! Oral Histories.  https://vimeo.com/647930201MUSIC and Cesar Chavez: A Time to Rise. Directed by Anand Patwardhan and Jim Monro, 1981. National Film Board. Used with permission.Donna Sacuta, et al. “Union Zindabad! - Labour History Research - South Asian Canadian Legacy Project (SACLP).” South Asian Canadian Legacy Project, University of the Fraser Valley, South Asian Studies Institute, 23 June 2022, https://saclp.southasiancanadianheritage.ca/union-zindabad-labour-history/. RESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh. Production by John Mabbott. Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 17: Asbestos - A Lethal Legacy
20-09-2022
Episode 17: Asbestos - A Lethal Legacy
This episode looks at the grim toll taken by exposure to carcinogenic fibres of asbestos.  Because it often takes decades for diseases such as mesothelioma  - a cancer caused by asbestos exposure - to develop, its legacy is ongoing.  We’ve known about these dangers for decades, yet the widespread use of asbestos continued long after its lethal properties were beyond dispute. It routinely found its way into a startling range of construction materials and, ironically, safety products. In September 2022, the BC Labour Heritage Centre officially dedicated a remarkable memorial to the victims of asbestos.  The Asbestos Memorial is located on the Vancouver waterfront as part of the Vancouver Convention Centre's Art Program with a commanding view of Burrard Inlet, where workers once loaded asbestos onto cargo ships.Lee Loftus, a third-generation member of the Insulators Union Local 118 talks about his role in raising awareness and understanding the risks of asbestos exposure. Tracy Ford, co-founder of the Asbestos-Related Research, Education & Advocacy Fund (AREA), recalls how the disease caught up with her father.Dave Pritchett, a longshoreman who worked at the Cassiar Asbestos dock in North Vancouver, explains how he and fellow longshore workers were on the front lines of handling asbestos. Linda Brace, widow of a smelter worker in Trail BC, recounts Cominco's response to her husband's death from mesothelioma at the age of 53. FEATURED MUSIC:   Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond. "More Than a Paycheck" written by Ysaye Barnwell and performed by Solidarity Notes Labour Choir, from the CD "A New World for Our Heirs"."Sit Down" written by Maurice Sugar and performed by Manhattan Chorus.Tracy Ford, "A History of Asbestos in BC", BC Labour Heritage Centre and WorkSafeBC, 2015. https://youtu.be/uEOgZt2y1_IDave Pritchett, Oral History interview, BC Labour Heritage Centre, 2018.Linda Brace, "Asbestos - The Silent Killer", United Steelworkers Local 480, 2008. https://youtu.be/H9IkIr3Jm5YRESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh. Production by John Mabbott. Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 16: The Union Archive That Almost Didn't Make It
05-07-2022
Episode 16: The Union Archive That Almost Didn't Make It
In 2019, former members of the International Woodworkers of America (IWA) along with community historians opened the IWA Archive in Lake Cowichan BC.  Located at the Kaatza Station Museum, the IWA Archive is near the home of the first IWA local in the province. The Museum also houses the fabulous Wilmer Gold Photo Collection. The founding convention of the IWA took place in Tacoma Washington in 1937. Its first President was Harold Pritchett from British Columbia, who was also the first Canadian to lead an international union. John Mountain, Al Lundgren, Pat Foster and Terry Inglis tell the story of how the collection began, was almost lost, and with the help of Archivist Henry John, continue to preserve the records of what was once BC's largest and most powerful union. Bikram (Vic) Berar, whose father Jaswant Singh was an interpreter for South Asian lumber workers and also a Local 1-80 Vice President, explains how important the IWA and the Archive is to his family.FEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond. "Talking IWA" written and performed by Joe Glazer, 1977.Hjalmer Bergren (12:32-12:52)  and Ernie Dalskog (13:17-13:27), "These Were the Reasons": Stories of Union Organizing in BC, BC Overtime, 2011. https://youtu.be/NFwpDcBUPlw RESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh. Production by John Mabbott. Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 15: Smelter Wars
09-05-2022
Episode 15: Smelter Wars
The workers at the lead-zinc smelter in Trail, British Columbia have a long history of overcoming formidable obstacles to unionization. Contentious politics, a company union and two World Wars are some of the issues discussed in this episode.  We talk to Ron Verzuh whose new book Smelter Wars: A Rebellious Red Trade Union Fights for its Life in Wartime Western Canada  (University of Toronto Press, 2022) has just been published. We also listen to archived interviews with two men who worked in the smelter in the early 1900s and remembered Ginger Goodwin who led a strike there in 1917.Originally members of the Western Federation of Miners, who became the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, the workers at the Trail Smelter (Cominco) are now represented by United Steelworkers Local 480.FEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond. “Ode to the Union Smelterman” (1907), author unknown. Performed by Jeff Burrows. RESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh. Production by John Mabbott. Andrew Waldie interview, RECORDED: 1975-12-18 by Howie Smith. ©Royal BC MuseumEd Provost interview, RECORDED: 1975-12-20 by Howie Smith. ©Royal BC MuseumCominco History – Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre retrieved at https://www.rosslandmuseum.ca/comincoTweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 14: The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
03-03-2022
Episode 14: The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
As Black History Month comes to a close, On the Line marks the occasion with a fascinating look back at the history of train sleeping car porters, almost all of whom were Black. It's a story that has only recently started to be told, and combines the history of Black employment in Canada, unionization and the fight for dignity and equality.  We examine those long lost days mostly through the voice of Warren Williams, whose Uncle Lee was in the forefront of the drive to organize Sleeping Car Porters in Canada. Warren is the current President of CUPE Local 15 (Vancouver), one of the biggest CUPE locals in Canada.Listen to Warren's full interview here: https://vimeo.com/793211236FEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond."Too Too Train Blues" - Performed by Big Bill Broozy"Midnight Train" - Performed by Oscar PetersonRESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh. Our thanks to Warren Williams for sharing his family's story as part of the BC Labour Heritage Centre Oral History Project in Feb. 2021, an interview which the clips in this episode are featured from.Learn more:https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/frank-collins-union-leader-black-activist-1940s-vancouver/Travis Tomchuk. Black sleeping car porters: The struggle for Black labour rights on Canada’s railways. Retrieved from https://humanrights.ca/story/sleeping-car-portersTweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 13: Relief Camps of the Great Depression
08-02-2022
Episode 13: Relief Camps of the Great Depression
Featuring archival audio interviews and labour songs of the time, this episode examines the so-called "Dirty Thirties" or "The Great Depression" and the forced labour relief camps the Federal Government of Canada set up in response. We include a special focus on a little known relief camp that was a mere hop, skip and a jump from downtown Vancouver, BC, in North Vancouver. This is the story of the Blair Rifle Range and other relief camps in B.C.Learn more: labourheritagecentre.ca/blair-rifle-range/FEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond."Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" Performed by Al Jolson, 1932. Written by lyricist Yip Harburg and composer Jay Gorney, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" was part of the 1932 musical revue Americana; the melody is based on a Russian-Jewish lullaby. "I Don't Want Your Diamonds Mister" & "Nine Pound Hammer" clips performed by Tom Hawken & his band. Part of the "These were the reasons..." film produced by Howie Smith and BC Overtime.RESEARCH:Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh. Thanks to Donna Sacuta, Exec. Director of the BC Labour Heritage Centre, for her research on the Blair Rifle Range and contribution to this episode.Building Andy's Range: The History of the Blair Rifle Range by Donna Sacuta. BC Labour Heritage Centre, 2017, rev. 2021.On the Line: A History of the BC Labour Movement by Rod Mickleburgh. BC Labour Heritage Society, Harbour Publishing, May 2018. Interview with Donna Sacuta conducted by Patricia Wejr on behalf of the BCLHC, 2022.Interview with Jean Shiels conducted by Sara Diamond, 1980s. Original Format: The VIVO Media Arts Centre. Crista Dahl Media Library & Archives. Sara Diamond fonds.Interview with Red Walsh conducted by Howie Smith, featured in “These were the reasons…” Stories of Union Organizing in British Columbia (2011) Produced by Howie Smith and BC Overtime, this documentary is about the struggle of working people in BC to win basic union rights. Copyright.Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 12: The Battle of Blubber Bay, BC, 1938
08-12-2021
Episode 12: The Battle of Blubber Bay, BC, 1938
An epic confrontation just before WWII between mine workers fighting for justice and an arrogant company with authorities in their hip pocket. This is the story that has come to be known as The Battle of Blubber Bay.Once a whaling station on Texada Island, Blubber Bay, British Columbia was home to an enormous open-pit limestone mine on the north end of the island. Starting just after the turn of the century, workers - many of them Chinese - had toiled away in the 250-ft deep pit. An obstinate mine manager and a wage cut motivated them to join the International Woodworkers of America (IWA). On June 2, 1938, two-thirds of the company's 156-strong workforce walked off the job as a last-ditch effort by the IWA to try and secure a foothold in BC. The battle that followed was legendary.FEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond."Blubber Bay Boogie" - Wesley Wheelwright, [Weeley Wright] from the record Songs of BC, 1958."IWA Marching Song" - Joe Glazer, Songs for Woodworkers, "Forty Years of Progress 1937-1977". 1977.BACKGROUND MUSIC:"Angel Tooth" - Zander, Blue Dot Sessions URL: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Blue_Dot_Sessions/Zander/Angel_ToothVOICEOVERS: "Rookie Police Officer" & "Vancouver Sun Reporter"  voiced by John MabbottRESEARCH:Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh.Hak, Gordon Hugh, Capital and Labour in the British Columbia Forest Industry, 1934-74, (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007)Neufeld, Andrew and Andrew Parnaby, The IWA in Canada: The Life and Times of an Industrial Union, (Vancouver: New Star Books/IWA Canada, 2000)Parnaby, Andy. “‘We’ll hang all policemen from a sour apple tree!’: Class, Law, and the Politics of State Power in the Blubber Bay Strike of 1938–39.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1995.Parnaby, Andrew, “What’s Law Got to do With it? The IWA and the Politics of State Power in British Columbia, 1935-1939,” Labour/Le Travail, 44 (Fall 1999), 9-45.Phillips, Paul A., No Power Greater: A Century of Labour in British Columbia, (Vancouver: BC Federation of Labour, 1967)Russwurm, Lani. Blubber Bay Strike (1938 – 1939). BC Labour Heritage Centre Archives.Stanton, John, Never Say Die!: The Life and Times of a Pioneer Labour Lawyer, (Vancouver: Steel Rail Publishing, 1987)Wejr, Patricia and Howie Smith, Fighting for Labour: Four Decades of Work in British Columbia, 1910 – 1950 (Victoria, BC: Sound Heritage, 1978) Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 11: Chinese Farmers of "Celery City", Armstrong BC
04-10-2021
Episode 11: Chinese Farmers of "Celery City", Armstrong BC
The small community of Armstrong, BC, just north of Vernon in the province's Interior, was once "the Celery Capital of Canada". Armstrong's early agricultural success owes much to the hard working Chinese immigrants who cultivated the city's fertile bottomlands. As many as 500 Chinese labourers lived in huts and bunkhouses in Chinatown in the winter, growing crops including celery, cabbage, lettuce and potatoes to be shipped across Canada. They faced restrictive immigration laws, a prohibitive head tax and were prevented from owning land; despite these obstacles, Chinese "market gardens" and their workers were an integral part of British Columbia's labour history. This is their story. A bronze plaque dedicated to the Chinese Farmers of "Celery City" was installed in 2016 by the BC Labour Heritage Centre and the City of Armstrong. FEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond."Celery Stalks at Midnight" Performed by Doris Day & Les Brown and his Orchestra, February 6. 1941.BACKGROUND MUSIC:Three Folk Songs - Williams Chinese Music EnsembleTraditional Chinese Folk Music at Beijing's Temple of Heaven - Unknown Artist VOICEOVERS: "Mary Jong" voiced by Yee Chung Dai"Ben Lee" voiced by Wyng Chow"Captain Cate" voiced by John MabbottARCHIVAL CLIPS: Clips from "Armstrong Roots" Interview with Howe Lee by Burnaby Village Museum researcher Denise Fong. An interview with retired Col. Howe Lee about his family's produce business in Armstrong, B.C. (Filmed and produced in 2019 for the CCHSBC 2019 Celebration Dinner). Available on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuaqUvQ9oVIFull interview archived with Heritage Burnaby: https://search.heritageburnaby.ca/permalink/museumsoundrecording10266RESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh. Oral history interviews with Denise Fong, Burnaby Village Museum researcher, available online: heritageburnaby.caPeter Critchley, The Chinese in Armstrong Okanagan Historical Society 63rd Report, 1999Niels C. Kristensen, Armstrong, the “Celery City” Okanagan Historical Society 49th Report, 1985Johnny Serra, Armstrong Packing Houses Okanagan Historical Society 28th Report, 1964Michael Kluckner, Vanishing British Columbia UBC Press, 2005Chinese Market Gardens at Musqueam Reserve #2 retrieved at https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=21261&pid=0#.XuqsLxoprLQ.emailSarah Ling, Elder Larry Grant featured by UBC Chinese Canadian Stories Project, April 27, 2012 retrieved athttps://indigenous.ubc.ca/2012/04/27/elder-larry-grant-featured-by-ubc-chinese-canadian-stories-project/ Arlene Chan Chinese Immigration Act The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2017, retrieved athttps://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/chinese-immigration-actMary Leah De Zwart, Armstrong, BC – Celery City No More, 2016 retrieved at https://www.bcfoodhistory.ca/armstrong-bc-celery-cTweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 10: 'Pins & Needles' - A 1930's Garment Workers' Musical
23-08-2021
Episode 10: 'Pins & Needles' - A 1930's Garment Workers' Musical
After a brief summer break, On the Line is back with more BC labour history! In September 1938, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) brought their theatrical musical hit “Pins and Needles” to Vancouver, BC, where it played to glowing reviews. Among the audience were trades union members of all kinds and noted labour artist Fraser Wilson.The cast were all ILGWU members from New York garment factories, or as The Province newspaper reviewer called them “just plain, simple, common, ordinary everyday men and women who work hard for their living.” This is their story.Learn more: https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/pins-and-needles/FEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond.Songs from the "Pins and Needles" musical featured from Internet Archive: Digital Library under Creative Commons license  https://archive.org/"One Big Union for Two" - performed by Cab Calloway and his Orchestra; by Harold J. Rome"Sing Me a Song with Social Significance" - performed by Nita Carol and Alan Holt; by Harold J. Rome"Doing the Reactionary" - performed by the Hudson-Delange Orchestra and Mary McHugh; by Harold J. RomeVOICEOVERS: "Netty" voiced by Lucie McNeill"Newspaper quotes 1 & 2" voiced by John MabbottRESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh. Concept based on research by Donna Sacuta, BCLHC Executive Director.https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/pins-and-needles/Cornell University Library: International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union "Pins and Needles" Additional Scrapbooks Collection Number: 6036/031"Pins and Needles": A White House Command PerformanceAuthor(s): Harry Merton GoldmanSource: Educational Theatre Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Mar., 1978), pp. 90-101Published by: Johns Hopkins University PressStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3206256Patricia Hews Everett-Kabut, UBC Doctor of Philosophy Thesis, 2016: THE COOPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH FEDERATION AND AMATEUR THEATRICALS IN 1930’S VANCOUVER, BCThe Library of Congress In the Muse Performing Arts Blog by Melissa Capozio Jones: “Sing Me a Song with Social Significance”: Harold Rome and the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, Jan. 2021Vancouver Sun, Sept. 1938. via Newspapers.comThe Province, Sept. 1938 via Newspapers.comThe New York Times, 1978: TAILOR‐MADE HIT OF THE 30'S by Tom PrideauxTweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 9: Indigenous Longshoremen & the I.W.W.
29-06-2021
Episode 9: Indigenous Longshoremen & the I.W.W.
This edition of On the Line takes note of Indigenous History Month in June with a different aspect of BC's Indigenous history: one that is  not very well known. We examine the contribution of Indigenous workers to the port of Vancouver, particularly in the first half of the 20th century, largely through the voices of those who worked the waterfront - and it's a union story, too. In 1906, the independent Lumber Handlers Union was established as local 526 of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.), with most of the 50 or 60 members being Indigenous. This is their story.Learn more: https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/bows/ FEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond."There is Power in a Union" written by Joe Hill (I.W.W.), performed by Joe Glazer & Bill Friedland, 1954, "Songs of the Wobblies" LP Record.INTERVIEWS: Clips from the ILWU Canada Podcast "The Docker" episode 33. Full episode: https://thedockerpodcast.libsyn.com/ep33-first-nations-history-on-vancouvers-waterfrontDelbert Guerin interview is part of the (Re)Claiming the New Westminster Waterfront collection at the New Westminster Museum & Archives and Simon Fraser University. RESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh.Parnaby, Andrew. Citizen Docker : Making a New Deal on the Vancouver Waterfront, 1919-1939 / Andrew Parnaby. University of Toronto Press, 2008.ILWU Local 500 Pensioners. (1975) Man along the shore! : The story of the Vancouver waterfront : As told by longshoremen themselves : 1860's - 1975. College Printers.Rod Mickleburgh. (2018) On the Line: A History of the BC Labour Movement. BC Labour Heritage Society, Harbour Publishing.Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 8: Uniting Woodworkers Across Ethnic Divides
24-05-2021
Episode 8: Uniting Woodworkers Across Ethnic Divides
May is Asian Heritage Month; last month was Sikh Heritage Month. Both groups are justly celebrated for their contributions to the fabric of BC. At the same time, they also suffered many years of exploitation and discrimination, much of it in the workplace. For many reasons, including the racist policies of many unions, they were very hard to organize - but one union, the International Woodworkers of America (IWA), met the challenge head-on. This is the story of three remarkable Asian organizers - Roy Mah, Darshan Singh Sangha and Joe Miyazawa - specifically hired by the IWA in the midst of World War Two to break down racial barriers and bring woodworkers of all races into the union.Learn more: https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ethnicdivides/FEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond. "The Greenhorn Song" & "Way Up the Ucletaw"  performed by Jon Bartlett/Rika Ruebsaat from The Young Man in Canada (2008) From the singing of Ed Dalby, Campbell River, 1959, with the first stanza by Phil Thomas. Ucletaw is the Yuculta Rapids, up the coast from Vancouver. Loggers supplied their own blankets. Pitchbacks are Douglas fir, so called because the bottom of the tree collects pitch. The early loggers stood on springboards, often several meters above the ground, so they could chop above the pitch. The song is preceded by the sounds of a two-man saw at work and shouts of timber! and down the hill! drawn from Robert Swanson's aural archives.  More information can be found below or at www.jonandrika.org "The Greenchain Song" from Now It's Called Princeton (2008) performed by Rika Ruebsaat.INTERVIEWS: Clips from Roy Mah interview by Paul Yee, Feb. 26, 1987. City of Vancouver Archives AM1523-S3-: 2008-010.4287Clip in Punjabi of Darshan Singh Sangha interview by Dr. Hari Sharma, March 11 ,1985. Part of The Indo-Canadian Oral History Collection, Simon Fraser University Archives. F-77-1-0-0-0-18Clips of interviews with Harinder Mahil & Dilbagh Johal. Part of a series of Co-op radio reel-to-reel tapes, produced by the Boag Foundation, donated to the BC Labour Heritage Centre in 2019 by Allen Seager.Clips from Joe Miyazawa interview conducted by the National Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre, 1994. Part of the Japanese Canadian Oral History Collection, Simon Fraser University Archives.  1994.80.10 (PART 1)RESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Bailey Garden & Rod Mickleburgh.Andrew Neufeld and Andrew Parnaby. (2000). The IWA in Canada : the life and times of an industrial union. Vancouver : IWA Canada/New Star Books.Harjit Daudharia, ed. (2004). Darshan. Darshan Singh Sangha ‘Canadian’ Heritage Foundation.Rod Mickleburgh. (2018) On the Line: A History of the BC Labour Movement. BC Labour Heritage Society, Harbour Publishing. “Interview with Harold Pritchett, Founding President of the International Woodworkers of America” by John Mountain, Digging into History, 2.8 (August, 2020)Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!
Episode 7: Bea Zucco's Fight for Silicosis Compensation
07-04-2021
Episode 7: Bea Zucco's Fight for Silicosis Compensation
April 28th marks Canada's annual Day of Mourning. Of course, industrial accidents are not the only risk workers face; occupational diseases, brought on by hazardous workplace conditions, have also claimed a terrible toll. One of the worst has been silicosis, a coating of the lungs by deadly silica dust inhaled by generations of hard-rock miners. To mark this month's Day of Mourning, we bring you the story of Bea Zucco: a third generation pioneer from Grand Forks, BC and a miner's wife. Ordinary in so many ways, and yet absolutely extraordinary in her determination to see justice prevail and secure a WCB pension for her silicosis-stricken husband. This is her story.Learn more: labourheritagecentre.ca/zuccoFEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond."Silicosis is Killin' Me" - First recorded by Pinewood Tom, a pseudonym for Joshua White, February 26, 1936, on Conqueror #8673."Cold, Cold Heart" - Written and performed by Hank Williams.INTERVIEWS:Clips of Bea Zucco are from a recording conducted by Les Johnson on behalf of the Boundary Historical Society. It was one of a series of "Living Books" events that took place early in 2013, hosted by gallery 2, the art gallery in Grand Forks BC. VOICEOVERS:"1950's Bea" - Lucie MacNeil"WCB/journalist" - John MabbottRESEARCH:Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr and Rod Mickleburgh.Tweet us @bc_lhc Follow us https://www.facebook.com/LabourHistoryInBC/ Browse https://www.labourheritagecentre.ca/ Send your feedback info@labourheritagecentre.caThanks for listening!