Canada's History

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.

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