Time of Turmoil
April 24, 1919
Metal and building trades unions present requests for wage increases and a forty-four- hour work week to the Winnipeg Builders’ Exchange.
May 1, 1919
Unions represented by the Building Trades Council go on strike after three fruitless months of negotiations.
May 2, 1919
The Metal Trades Council calls for a strike of its members at three large workplaces.
May 11, 1919
Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council (WTLC) members start voting on whether to walk out in sympathy.
May 13, 1919
Before all ballots are cast, the WTLC announces that there is a majority in favour of a general strike.
May 15, 1919
The general strike begins. Thousands of unorganized workers join those who are unionized.
May 16, 1919
The Citizens’ Committee of 1,000 forms to oppose the strike.
May 22, 1919
Arthur Meighen, acting federal minister of justice, and Senator Gideon Robertson, federal minister of labour, arrive in Winnipeg.
May 25, 1919
Robertson threatens postal workers with firing unless they return to work. Five thousand strikers meet in Victoria Park to reject this ultimatum and others.
May 29, 1919
The city police chief notifies officers that they have until 1pm the next afternoon to sign a pledge not to participate in the strike. They refuse but vow to uphold the law.
June 1, 1919
Ten thousand First World War veterans march to the Manitoba legislature in support of the strike.
June 9, 1919
Virtually all Winnipeg police officers are fired. The Citizens’ Committee begins recruiting replacements, known as “specials,” to enforce order.
June 16-17, 1919
Mounted police arrest ten purported strike leaders and take them to Stony Mountain penitentiary north of the city, resulting in a flood of protest across Canada.
June 21, 1919
The specials and mounted police attack participants in a silent parade called to protest the arrests. “Bloody Saturday” ends in one death and scores of injuries. A second man dies later.
June 26, 1919
At 11am in the morning, the Winnipeg General Strike ends. Hundreds of people involved in the strike will be arrested over the coming days.