When

While the history of the Winnipeg General Strike has an established start and end date, the conflict itself did not occur in a vacuum. The seeds were sown well before workers walked off their jobs at 11 am on the morning of Thursday, May 15, 1919. The effects were felt well after strikers returned to work on June 26, 1919. The following timeline provides a listing of key events before, during, and after the strike. 

Click on the dates below for timeline information. Click on the images to expand them.

1872 - 1917

1918

1919

The Events of Bloody Saturday as Retold by Nick Zalozetsky

In 1982, Nick Zalozetsky was interviewed by Peter Warren on a CJOB radio program, “Where are they now?”, and provided his recollections of Bloody Saturday. At the time of the strike, Nick Zalozetsky was a twenty-four year old office manager for the Ukrainian Voice. Out of curiosity, and in sympathy with the strikers, Mr. Zalozetsky walked down Main Street on June 21 to observe the silent parade. Pushing his way through the crowd down Main street between Logan Avenue and James or Rupert Avenues, he stopped in front of City Hall. From here, Zalozetsky witnessed Mayor Gray reading the Riot Act, and the Royal Northwest Mounted Police arrive on the scene. From here, Mr. Zalozetsky nearly lost his life:

All of a sudden, there were shouts, shrieks, whistles…

I jumped over the iron fence onto the lawn in front of City Hall…

It was at that moment that my hat, which was fairly tight on my head, fell off. I wondered what happened. There was no wind, no one near. I picked the hat up and I noticed a small hole, and turning it around, there was another, bigger hole. Then I realized what had happened.

A bullet had gone right through Mr. Zalozetsky’s hat. He believed that by jumping over the fence onto the grounds of City Hall to get out of harm’s way, a Special Policeman had mistaken this gesture as an attempt to storm City Hall.

1920

1921 - 1932

June 14, 1872

The Trades and Union Act is passed by the Federal Government, legalizing unions.

1883

The Trades and Labor Congress of Canada is created.

1889

The Royal Commission on the Relations of Labor and Capital is established. Recommendations made by the commission to improve working conditions are disregarded by the Federal Government.

1892

Canada's Criminal Code is updated so that picketing  is no longer legally protected.

July 23, 1894

Prime Minister Thompson decrees that Labour Day is a national holiday.

1900

The Federal Department of Labour is created.

1901

In Britain, it is ruled in the Taff Vale Railway case that employers can sue strikers for damages regarding lost profits.

1903

The Building Trades Council is formed.


The Builders' Exchange is formed

February 16, 1905

At a meeting of the Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council, a proposal to build a Labor Hall is put forward and received with great enthusiasm.

March 29 - April 7, 1906

Winnipeg street railway workers go on strike, demanding better wages and conditions.

Violence breaks out when the Winnipeg Electric Railway Company's private security forces begin to attack strikers and onlookers alike, including the Mayor.

July 28, 1914

The First World War begins.


August 4, 1914

Canada joins the First World War.


August 18, 1914

The first internment camp for so-called "enemy aliens" is established in Ontario. More internment camps would be opened across Canada throughout the war.


October 3, 1914

The first group of Canadian soldiers go overseas.

January 28, 1916

Manitoba becomes the first province granting women the right to vote and hold office.

March 5, 1917

The Women's Labor League is organized in the James Street Labor Temple to provide support and better conditions for working women. Helen Armstrong and Mrs. A.W. Puttee are elected president and vice-president respectively.


May 18, 1917

Prime Minister Borden announces conscription.


July 27, 1917

The Winnipeg Citizens' Alliance is formed, made up of business leaders and modeled after the organization of the same name in Minneapolis, which was known for its heavy handedness when dealing with labour. The Winnipeg-based organization was formed following a dinner at the Royal Alexandra Hotel, organized by the Winnipeg Builders' Exchange.


September 9, 1917

The Liberty Temple, a Jewish labour temple, formally opens.

Late April 1918

The Metal Trades Council is formed with R.B. Russell as its secretary.

May 2, 1918

City of Winnipeg Electrical employees go out on strike over disagreements relating to a pay increase. The City threatens to dismiss the workers and sympathy strikes begin.


Letter to Alderman Heaps about the formation of the Special Committee on strike settlement. COWA. Council Communications (file 11507)
Letter to Alderman Heaps about the formation of the Special Committee on strike settlement. COWA. Council Communications (file 11507)

May 9, 1918
Council organizes a Special Committee on Strike Settlement to negotiate with the strikers.


May 13, 1918

Having reached a tentative deal with the strikers, the Special Committee presents its report to Council.

Alderman F.O. Fowler convinces a slim majority of Council to amend the agreement to forbid City employees from unionizing or striking in the future.


May 14, 1918

In response to the new law, city firefighters walk off the job and the ongoing strike intensifies. A general strike is threatened.


May 16, 1918

A meeting of business owners and employers meet to discuss the strike and organize the Citizens’ Committee of One Hundred to help negotiate between the City and the strikers.


May 17, 1918

The Citizens' Committee of One Hundred is formed.


May 24, 1918

A settlement is reached, abolishing the ban on strike action. In exchange, firefighters agree that they will give sixty days’ notice prior to any strike action, that they will only strike over grievances deemed serious, and that officers will not be eligible to be part of the union.

June [?], 1918

The Metal Trades Council sends a draft agreement to 45 shops demanding higher wages and better conditions. Vulcan Iron Works, Manitoba Bridge and Iron Works, and Dominion Bridge Co. refuse to negotiate and a strike is threatened.


June 23, 1918

Reverend William Ivens gives his last service at McDougall church. The topic of his last sermon is "What True Patriotism Is". He intends to give sermons at the James Street Labor Temple in the following week, hoping to gain interest to create a Labor Church in Winnipeg (Winnipeg Tribune, June 24, 1918).


June 26, 1918

Justice T.G. Mathers is appointed to lead a Royal Commission to investigate disputes in the metal trades industry. He is joined by Alderman George Fisher and F.G. Tipping, president of the Trades and Labor Council.

July 7, 1918

A committee is formed to create a permanent Labor Church in Winnipeg.


July 22, 1918

Frustrated with the Mathers Commission, the Metal Trades Council calls a strike while the commission is still underway.

August 2, 1918

Justice Mathers submits his report, which identifies recognition of the Metal Trades Council as the most significant issue dividing metal workers and their employers. It also critiques the Metal Trades Council's wage demands as too high and its decision to strike while the commission was underway.


August 8, 1918

Justice Mathers' report goes public and R.B. Russell gives a speech to the Trades and Labor Council condemning the report and TLC president F.G. Tipping for being part of it.


August 15, 1918

Spurred on by R.B. Russell and the Metal Trades Council, The Trades and Labor Council calls a general, but it fails to materialize.

September 5, 1918

F.G. Tipping is voted out of his position as president of the Trades and Labor Council by a vote of 49 to 10. He tenders his resignation two weeks later.


September 30, 1918

A westbound train of returned soldiers comes through Winnipeg, bringing with it the first 23 Manitoba cases of Spanish Influenza. The soldiers are sent to the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire Hospital, which is quarantined following their arrival. The epidemic will continue throughout the strike and later create delays in the strike trials when a jury member falls ill.

October 6, 1918

The first two deaths linked to the Spanish Flu occur in Manitoba when Private E. Murray and Private W. Barney, both from Québec, die at the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire Hospital in Manitoba.


October 11, 1918

The Federal Government passes Order-in-Council P.C. 2525, forbidding the use of strikes and lockouts in industrial disputes.


October 21, 1918

A strike vote by street railway workers, printers, culinary workers, and police in Winnipeg is taken to determine whether fifty unions representing over 20,000 employees are prepared to walk out on October 24 if the Federal Government does not withdraw its order-in-council preventing freight handlers in Calgary from striking.


October 22, 1918

An agreement is reached with Calgary freight workers, averting a general strike in Winnipeg.

November 11, 1918

An Armistice with Germany is reached.


November 19, 1918

Following a widespread condemnation by labour leaders and an armistice with Germany, Order-in-Council P.C. 2525, passed on October 21, 1918, is rescinded.

December 12(?) 1918

The Trades and Labor Council votes that only a majority is required to call a general strike.


Mid-December, 1918

James Winning is elected president of the Trades and Labor Council, defeating R.B. Russell. E. Robinson retains his position as secretary, defeating R.J. Johns.


December 22, 1918

A meeting of the Socialist Party of Canada is held at the Walker Theatre. John Queen, a City Alderman and future strike leader, acts as chairman. Coincidentally, C.P. Walker, the owner of the theatre, loses his son George Walker that same evening, as a result of the Spanish Flu.

January 18, 1919

The Paris Peace Conference begins in France to establish the terms to formally end the First World War. Prime Minister Robert Borden and Dominion Minister of Justice Charles Doherty both attend the conference, which carries into May and June, and consequently, both must delegate business relating to the Winnipeg General Strike to other ministers, including Acting Minister of Justice Arthur Meighen.


January 19, 1919

The Socialist Party of Canada organizes a meeting at the Majestic Theatre (363 Portage). The meeting is attended by many future strike leaders, including George Armstrong, R.B. Russell, and R.J. Johns.


January 26, 1919

The Socialist Party of Canada organizes another afternoon meeting at the Majestic Theatre.

A group of veterans start a two-day riot, carrying into January 27, targeting establishments owned or staffed by "enemy aliens" after they hear about a gathering where socialists plan to mourn the deaths of German socialists Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. Establishments downtown and in Elmwood, including the Austro-Hungarian Society Club Rooms, the Edelweiss Brewery, the German Club, the Oriental Hotel, and the Ling Bro. Restaurant are vandalized. By the end of the riot, thirty people were injured and 21 buildings were damaged, causing approximately $25,000-$30,000 in damages. The rioters sought out immigrants as they marched, pulling some out of street cars. Those who could not produce citizenship papers were beaten and those who could were forced to kiss the Union Jack flag.

February 14, 1919

The Ukrainian Labor Temple officially opens on McGregor street, at Pritchard avenue.

March 13, 1919: Verbatim report of Calgary Labor Conference. Winnipeg Tribune, April 5, 1919. UML.

March 13, 1919
The Western Labor Conference is held in Calgary during which many labour leaders agree to support the One Big Union (OBU), which is intended to act as a single union for all workers across Canada.


March 15, 1919

Labour leaders make a statement predicting that a general strike of labour unions in Winnipeg will occur in the spring.


March, 1919

Premier Norris' government passes a bill to create an Industrial Disputes Commission to investigate labour disputes. It has the power to force arbitration and limit strike activity and is made up of a neutral chair, two representatives from employers and two from labour. It is unpopular with both labour and employers, and the Trades and Labor Council boycotts the commission by refusing to send delegates.

Early April

Chief Justice T.G. Mathers is appointed to lead a Royal Commission into industrial relations in Canada.

The Manitoba Fair Wage Board does not create a new wage schedule for 1919-1920, leaving the Building Trades Council and the Builders' Exchange to negotiate with each other directly.


April 24, 1919

The metal and building trades in Winnipeg make wage demands to their employers and seek union recognition.

The building trades employees demand a 20 cent raise for all employees.

The metal trades employers refuse to recognize the Metal Trades Council.

Approximately 100 civic employees in Brandon, Manitoba, go out on strike.


April 25, 1919

Teamsters in Brandon, Manitoba, walk off on sympathetic strike at 11 am.


April 28, 1919

The Builders' Exchange offers far less than what the Building Trades Council has asked for, threatening to no longer recognize the Building Trade Council.


April 30, 1919

The Building Trades Council votes to strike.

The Metal Trades Council votes to strike after one final attempt to negotiate with employers.

May 1, 1919

Building trades employees walk off the job as their strike begins.

The Metal Trades Council is rejected by employers once again.


May 2, 1919

Metal trades workers go on strike.


May 6, 1919

The Winnipeg Trades and Labor council meets to discuss the possibility of a general strike and poll local unions.


May 10-13, 1919

The Mathers Commission holds hearings in Winnipeg. Employers such as T.R. Deacon make statements, but, with the exception of William Ivens, the Trades and Labor Council does not participate.

May 13, 1919

Mayor Gray and Premier Norris meet with members of the building and metal trades unions and their employers in an attempt to prevent a general sympathetic strike.

The ballot results from the May 6 polls are announced at a meeting of the Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council and, although response was low, the votes are in favour of the One Big Union and a general strike.


May 15, 1919

At 7:00 am, telephone operators – mostly women, known as the “hello girls” – are the first workers to walk off the job on a sympathetic strike.

"When the Strike broke out at Eaton’s, May 15, 1919”. History Stone fonds. UMASC.At 11 am, somewhere between 25,000 and 35,000 workers walk off the job as the General Strike officially begins.

 

 

Image Source: "When the strike broke out at Eaton's, May 15, 1919." History Stone fonds. UMASC.


May 16, 1919

Under pressure from the Strike Committee, newspaper typographers and pressers across the city leave their posts, as do postal workers, telephone operators, and linemen.

William Ivens addresses a crowd at Victoria Park.


May 17, 1919

Based on a request by the Strike Committee, a meeting with City Council is held to discuss essential services in the City of Winnipeg. The creation of cards authorizing essential services to continue throughout the strike, by permission of the Strike Committee, is proposed.


May 19, 1919

First issue of the Winnipeg Citizen, May 19, 1919. UML.The first issue of the Winnipeg Citizen is published and distributed by the Citizens’ Committee of One Thousand.

Image source: The first issue of the Winnipeg Citizen, May 19, 1919. UML.

 

 

 

 

 


May 20, 1919

A special session of Council is called in an attempt to negotiate. No minutes are taken.

Acting Minister of Justice, Arthur Meighen, and Minister of Labour, Gideon Robertson leave Ottawa by train to assess the situation in Winnipeg.


May 21, 1919

The Executive of the Central Strike Committee is nominated.

The Citizens’ Committee of One Thousand intercepts Meighen and Robertson in Fort William (Thunder Bay) and convince them of their account of the strike.


May 22, 1919

Arthur Meighen and Gideon Robertson arrive in Winnipeg and meet with the Citizens’ Committee of One Thousand in their headquarters at the Board of Trade Building. Word reaches the Strike Committee, who respond by sending strikers to picket outside the building.

Order of the Sleeping Car Porters votes overwhelmingly in favour of joining the General Strike.


May 23, 1919

An informal Council meeting is held in which the Citizens and Strike Committees are brought to the table. Both sides agree to form a ten person committee to resolve the strike but no further progress is made.

Federal Ministers Gideon Robertson and Arthur Meighen give postal workers an ultimatum to return to work by Monday, May 26, and sign an oath severing ties with the Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council. Employees who do not comply will be dismissed.


May 24, 1919

In the wake of the postal workers' ultimatum, postmaster P.C. McIntyre places 100 volunteers on duty to sort mail on the Saturday before the ultimatum takes effect.

The Winnipeg Tribune, along with other newspaper dailies resume printing following the walk out of their stereotypers and pressmen.


May 26, 1919

Winnipeg Tribune, May 26, 1919. UML.

Meighen appoints A.J. Andrews of the Citizens’ Committee of One Thousand to be the Federal Justice Department’s representative in Winnipeg.

An official Council meeting takes place in which it is determined that all civic employees must sign a loyalty pledge (called the "Slave Pact"), or be dismissed.

Very few striking Federal postal workers and provincial telephone workers return to work following ultimatums issued by their employers.


May 28, 1919

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers present Mayor Gray and Premier Norris with an offer to mediate the strike.

City Council asks the Provincial Government to enact legislation to make sympathetic strikes illegal and collective bargaining compulsory.


May 29, 1919

The Iron Masters are open to allowing the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers to mediate the strike with the striking metal trades workers.

Police are given an ultimatum by the Police Commission to sign loyalty oaths or be dismissed.


May 30, 1919

Oath of Allegiance signed by Police Officers. Winnipeg Police Museum.

2,000 pro-strike veterans march to the Manitoba Legislative Building, demanding Premier Norris ensure collective bargaining rights.

The striking metal trades workers accept the offer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers to mediate the strike with the Iron Masters.

Helen Armstrong (President of the Women's Labor League), Arthur Riley (manager of the Canada Bread Company) and Frank Winters plead not guilty to charges of being disorderly due to a disturbance they caused two weeks prior at the Canada Bread Company plant.

At 1 pm, only three police officers have signed the loyalty oath. The Police Commission projected that at least 50 officers would have signed by this time.

Returned soldiers declare that if the City does not rescind its ultimatum to police officers, there will be serious consequences.


May 31, 1919

10,000 pro-strike veterans march to the Manitoba Legislative Building, once again demanding the right to collective bargaining.

 

June 1, 1919

A meeting of the Labor Church in Victoria Park is attended by 7,000 to 9,000 people, during which over $1,000 is collected for the Labor Café to support women strikers.

Returned soldiers march to the Manitoba Legislative Building in support of the strike.


June 2, 1919

Approximately 3,000 to 5,000 returned soldiers and strike sympathizers march to the Manitoba Legislative Building demanding that the Norris government resign unless it enacts legislation for compulsory collective bargaining. Premier Norris states that no legislation can be promised unless the strike is called off first. Upon their return from the Manitoba Legislative Building, the crowd hisses at the Board of Trade Building as they pass it. (Winnipeg Tribune, June 2, 1919).


June 3, 1919

On their way from a meeting with Premier Norris to St. Boniface City Hall, pro-strike veterans pass the headquarters of the Citizens' Committee. WCPI A0018-527. UWA.

Veterans on strike march in front of the Citizens’ Committee of One Thousand headquarters (in the Board of Trade Building), following a meeting with Premier Norris.

Anti-alien advertisements by the Citizens’ Committee of One Thousand begin to appear in media sources throughout Winnipeg.


June 4, 1919

The City of Winnipeg establishes the Special Food Committee to deliver bread and milk in the absence of workers who went out on strike.

Mayor Gray issues a statement declaring that anyone who interferes with milk and bread depots or public utilities will face prosecution.

Anti-strike veterans demonstrate at Broadway and Kennedy.

Pro-strike veterans march into Fort Rouge but are turned away by police near the Osborne Street Bridge. The parade turns back and marches to the Labor Temple.


June 5, 1919

Thousands of pro-strike war veterans lead a parade down Wellington Crescent, a neighborhood where many of the Citizens’ Committee of One Thousand members live.

Strike sympathizers march down Broadway Avenue onto Main Street.

Mayor Gray announces that that if disorder continues, he may read the Riot Act and demand the end of street parades.

When the police arrest a Dominion operative, Mayor Gray rushes to try and stop the arrest, but is hounded by a group of strikers who either assault the Mayor or attempt to protect the police from him, depending on which paper reports it.


June 6, 1919

An amendment to the Immigration Act is introduced by the Canadian Government. The amendment allows for individuals born outside of Canada to be deported and removes their right to a trial  if they are accused of sedition.

At 10 am, a meeting of returned soldiers is held at Victoria Park.

Mayor Gray states that Winnipeg's strike situation is now critical: "I want to be able to say that we smashed anarchy here in western Canada without the use of military force!" (Winnipeg Tribune, June 6, 1919).

Captain F.G. Thompson, unable to convince the Great War Veterans' Association to abandon its neutral stance in favour of an anti-strike one, forms the Loyalist Returned Soldiers Association.

At 3:30 pm the "Retail Clerks" play against "The Rest" in a benefit football match to support the Relief Fund (Western Labor News, June 6, 1919).


June 7, 1919

In the midst of a tour through Western Canada, J.S. Woodsworth arrives in Winnipeg and gives an address at a meeting of the Labor Church in Victoria Park.


June 9, 1919

Nearly the entire police force is dismissed by the Police Commission.

Crescent Creamery issues an order to its employees, in an advertisement printed in the Winnipeg Tribune, demanding the return of all milk drivers to work by 3 pm on June 10. Otherwise, striking employees will be replaced, with priority given to returned soldiers.


June 10, 1919

Approximately 200 Special Policemen with wagon spokes and baseball bats advance on Portage Avenue. Winnipeg Tribune fonds, June 10, 1919. UMASC.
Approximately 200 Special Policemen with wagon spokes and baseball bats advance on Portage Avenue. Winnipeg Tribune fonds, June 10, 1919. UMASC.

Ex-Constable Lovett addresses a crowd of strikers in Victoria park at a morning meeting.

When strikers and strike sympathizers gather near Portage and Main, Special Police take to the streets armed with wagon spokes and chair legs rumored to have been provided by the J.H. Ashdown Hardware Company.

Police Chief Donald McPherson is dismissed and replaced with Acting Chief Chris H. Newton.

At 9 pm, machine guns arrive in Winnipeg through the Canadian Pacific Railway. They were sent to Winnipeg to be used if needed against strikers and those sympathetic to the strike.


June 11, 1919

At 1 am, an armored car arrives in Winnipeg through the Canadian Pacific Railway to be used by the military as needed during the strike.

Special Policeman Thomas Sandall Morrison is shot in the leg. The next day, the Winnipeg Tribune reports that Morrison was shot “while defending himself against a crowd of aliens” (Winnipeg Tribune, June 12, 1919). The Winnipeg Citizen also publishes an article on the events, though neither source specifies that officer Morrison was shot by another Special Police accidentally.

A barber shop opens in the basement of the Labor Temple with 50% of the proceeds going to the strike fund.


June 12, 1919

The "Soldiers' Parliament" hosts a meeting for women strikers in Victoria Park where J.S. Woodsworth and R.E. Bray address the crowd. Though over 2,000 people are in attendance, the crowd is made up of mostly men. Women were invited to sit in "seats of honor near the central platform." (Western Labor News)

William A. Pritchard – having just arrived in Winnipeg – and George Armstrong speak at Victoria Park at an afternoon meeting.

At 2 pm, the "Employees of Local 435" take on the Canadian Government Railways Dining Car Department during a baseball game at Wesley College.


June 13, 1919

Roger Bray addresses a crowd at a meeting in Victoria Park, possibly a group of returned soldiers who met at the park at 10 am that morning.

At 2:30 pm, a mass meeting for the striking branches of the printing trades is held at the Travellers' Building.

At 8 pm, laundry workers meet in room 12 of the Labor Temple.

At 8 pm, a concert is held at the Queens Theatre in support of the strikers.


June 14, 1919

At 10 am, a mass meeting of Railway Workers of the Federated C.N.R., C.G.R., and C.P.R. Trades is held at the Labor Temple to take a strike vote.

At 3 pm, Ford factory employees meet at the Labor Temple.

Newsboys on strike request that strikers cancel their subscriptions to Winnipeg newspaper dailies. During the strike, they will only distribute Western Labor News.


June 15, 1919

J.S. Woodsworth, W.A. Pritchard – both from Vancouver – and Reverend A.E. Smith of Brandon speak at the Labor Church.

June 17, 1919

Strike leaders are arrested. Winnipeg Tribune, June 17, 1919. UML.

In the early hours of the morning, the RNWMP arrest and jail several strike leaders, including leaders Bray, Russell, Ivens, Queen, Heaps and Armstrong. A warrant for Pritchard and Johns, who are out of province, is also issued.

Solomon Almazoff, Max Charitonoff, Samuel Blumenberg, and Oscar Schoppelrei are arrested. Mike Verenczuk is mistaken for Boris Devyatkin and arrested.

The James Street Labor Temple, Ukrainian Labor Temple, and the Liberty Temple are raided following the arrests of the strike leaders. Literature deemed to be “seditious” is confiscated by authorities.

The Brandon Trades and Labor Council protest the arrests of the strike leaders at a mass meeting.


June 18, 1919

Strike leaders arrested on June 17 are threatened with deportation, as all, with the exception of George Armstrong, were born outside of Canada and may be deported without trial based on the June 6 amendment to the Immigration Act.

At 10 am, the Policemen's union holds a meeting at the Labor Temple.


June 19, 1919

W. A. Pritchard is arrested in Calgary on his way back to Vancouver from Winnipeg.

At a meeting attended by approximately seventy women in Wellwood’s Box Factory, the Working Women of Elmwood decide, to start a branch of the Women’s Labor League in their neighbourhood.

A dance is hosted by the North End Strike Committee, with music provided for free by Dave Gusin's Jazz Boys.


June 20, 1919

Armstrong, Bray, Heaps, Ivens, Queens and Russell are released on bail at 2 am, after paying $2,000 each.

The Returned Soldiers Committee calls a meeting at Market Square where they decide to hold a silent parade the following day.


June 21, 1919

Returned soldiers F.H. Dunn, J. Farnell, and J.A. Martin meet with Minister Robertson, Mayor Gray, Commissioner Perry (RNWMP), and A.J. Andrews. The returned soldiers request permission to organize a silent parade later that day. They further ask that streetcars do not operate during the strike. Both requests are denied. The returned soldiers state that the parade will go on as planned.

Bloody Saturday

The following timeline of Bloody Saturday attempts to detail how the events unfolded in chronological order. However, different accounts from that day provide different versions of the events and consequently, this should not be considered to be an official summary of events.

Around 1:45 pm, a crowd of returned soldiers, along with strike sympathizers and onlookers, including men, women, and children, start to gather around City Hall. Mayor Gray requests the assistance of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police when plans for the silent parade go forward.

Between 1:45 pm and 2:30 pm, a streetcar, operated by strikebreakers, attempts to pass through the crowd.

Around 2:30 pm, the Mounties arrive, riding through the crowd, north on Main Street (first charge). The crowd lets them through.

Riot Act owned by Mayor Gray, possibly used during Bloody Saturday. Charles F. Gray Family fonds (2017.85_03.04_015). UCASC.
Riot Act owned by Mayor Gray, possibly used during Bloody Saturday. Charles F. Gray Family fonds (2017.85_03.04_015). UCASC.

Around 2:35 pm, the crowd rushes the streetcar and attempts to overturn it. Mayor Gray reads the Riot Act shortly after. Some accounts state that the Mayor read the riot act on more than one occasion as his voice did not carry into the crowd. The Mounties return south on Main Street, passing through the crowd (second charge). The crowd begins to throw missiles while the RNWMP swing their bats. The Mounties come back north (third charge), and, with revolvers drawn, abruptly turn left onto William Avenue, charging the crowd. Shots are fired. Dozens are injured, including Steve Szczerbanowicz, who is shot in the legs and is taken to the Winnipeg General Hospital. Mayor Gray leaves the scene by car to call upon the militia at Fort Osborne Barracks.

Mounties ride around Market Square, coming back to Main Street. Shots are fired again. Mike Sokolowski is shot in the heart and killed instantly.

The streetcar is set on fire. Various accounts state that it was set ablaze by either men, women, or teenagers.

Around 3 pm, Special Police arrive on the scene.

Around 3:40 pm, Special Police trap fleeing strikers and sympathizers running into an alley between Market and James avenues. A 10 minute fight begins in what would then be known as Hell’s Alley.

After 3:45 pm, Special Police patrol the streets, guarding firemen who were putting out the streetcar fire. The militia – who bring with them machine guns and bayonets – also patrol the streets, with Mayor Gray riding along as Chief Magistrate to ensure Winnipeggers that their city is not under Martial Law.

By 6 pm, the streets were calm but patrols were still active on Main Street throughout the evening.


June 23, 1919

A.J. Andrews sends a letter to the Winnipeg Print and Engraving Co. informing them that they are no longer to publish the Western Labor News.

J.S. Woodsworth is arrested for seditious libel. Fred Dixon takes over as editor of Western Labor News following his arrest.

Steve Szczerbanowicz dies as the result an infection – gangrene – caused by the injuries he obtained on Bloody Saturday.

Forty-four people arrested on June 21 are released on $1,000 bail. Among these men is Adolph Berrol, who is accused of setting the streetcar on fire.

City Council approves for $75,000 to be given to the Special Police, according to an article published in The Enlightener on June 26, 1919.


June 24, 1919

Helen Armstrong is arrested and held in connection to disturbances related to the strike.

The Western Star announces the start of a defence fund to raise money for those who were arrested within the last week. An account for the fund is set-up at the Home Bank of Canada.


June 25, 1919

The strike is called off for the following day.

A.J. Andrews issues a warrant for the arrest of Fred Dixon.


June 26, 1919

At 11 am, strikers return to work.

The Citizens' Committee of One Thousand holds a meeting to determine whether the organization will continue or disband.


June 27, 1919

Fred Dixon turns himself in to police following a warrant for his arrest.

W.A. Pritchard and Helen Armstrong are released on bail.

A concert is held in S.O.E. Hall in Weston to support the Weston and Brooklands strikers.
The Attorney-General's department permits the police to serve warrants to injured rioters when they are released from the Winnipeg General Hospital.


June 28, 1919

Fred Dixon and J.S. Woodsworth are released on bail.


June 30, 1919

The building trades workers reach a settlement with the Builders' Exchange. Workers receive higher wages than initially offered, but the Building Trades Council is not recognized.

Early July

Most metal trades workers return to work, receiving a reduction in hours from 55 hours a week to 50 hours at the same pay, but the Metal Trades Council is not recognized.


July 1, 1919

The Mathers Report is tabled in the House of Commons. It determines that unemployment, high cost of living, poor conditions, and lack of collective bargaining rights are the cause of current labour unrest.


July 2, 1919

Special Police are officially demobilized at noon. The total amount the City spent on Special Police, including maintenance, salaries, and supplies, is $209,665.09.


July 3, 1919

Armstrong, Bray, Heaps, Ivens, Queen, Johns, Pritchard, and Russell appear in court before Police Magistrate Sir. Hugh J. MacDonald, the son of former Prime Minister John A. MacDonald, to discuss remand and conditions of bail.


July 4, 1919

Hugh Amos Robson is appointed as the commissioner to investigate the Winnipeg General Strike and report on its causes and effects.


July 11, 1919

In the midst of a tour to raise money for the defence fund created to support strikers who were arrested, R.E. Bray and William Ivens arrive in Ottawa. Their trip also includes stops in Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, and Montreal.


July 14, 1919

Immigration hearings of Samuel Blumenberg, Solomon Almazoff, Max Charitonoff, and Oscar Schoppelrei begin.


July 18, 1919

Oscar Schoppelrei is ordered deported to the United States.


July 21, 1919

Preliminary hearings begin for R.B. Russell, R.J. Johns, William Ivens, R.E. Bray, A.A. Heaps, John Queen, William Pritchard, and George Armstrong.


July 23, 1919

John Farnell, chairman of the Returned Soldier Strikers Committee, is arrested on Portage Avenue.


July 24, 1919

John Farnell pleads not guilty to a charge of seditious utterance for speeches made at Victoria Park and Market Square.


July 28, 1919

At a preliminary hearing, Mayor Gray testifies that the Strike Committee controlled the City following the June 10 riot.

August 5, 1919

While awaiting trial, R.B. Russell is appointed secretary-treasurer for the Winnipeg Labor Council.


August 12, 1919

Samuel Blumenberg is ordered deported.


August 13, 1919

Justice Nobel rules that the cases against R.B. Russell, R.E. Bray, R.J. Johns, George Armstrong, W.A. Pritchard, A.A. Heaps, and John Queen will go to trial.


August 14, 1919

Max Charitonoff is ordered deported. He will later successfully appeal the decision.


August 16, 1919

Solomon Almazoff is acquitted.


August 20, 1919

A mass meeting of 7,800 Winnipeggers is held at the Board of Trade Building to create the Citizens' League, which was meant to "give permanence to the work of Committee of One Thousand" (Manitoba Free Press, August 18, 1919).


August 24, 1919

Approximately 5,000 people gather at the Board of Trade building for a meeting of the Labor Church denouncing the refusal of bail to the arrested strike leaders and the Immigration Act.


August 30, 1919

The City of Winnipeg receives a petition from residents of Ward 5 asking for the release of Aldermen Heaps and Queen, as their imprisonment has left the Ward with no representation on City Council.

November 25, 1919

R.B. Russell’s trial begins.

December 9, 1919

Spectators attending the R.B. Russell trial are removed from the court by Captain C.F. Wheeler, after they make "derogatory remarks" about Justice Metcalfe and prosecutor A.J. Andrews. One man further booed the prosecution and their witnesses and said "hear, hear" while the defence spoke. (Winnipeg Tribune, December 9, 1919).


December 24, 1919

The jury in R.B. Russell’s trial returns a guilty verdict. Russell is permitted to spend Christmas with his family and will be sentenced the following Saturday.


December 25, 1919

Prior to his sentencing, R.B. Russell hosts a Christmas dinner party attended by George and Helen Armstrong, John Queen, A.A. Heaps, and their families.


December 27, 1919

R.B. Russell is sentenced to two years in prison. He will serve approximately 50 weeks of this sentence before being released on probation.

William Staples is arrested for attending a demonstration in protest of Russell's conviction and leading three cheers for Russell.


December 28, 1919

At a meeting of the Labor Church, William Ivens states that R.B. Russell "was tried by a poisoned jury, a poisoned judge, and given a poisoned sentence" (Winnipeg Tribune, February 10, 1920).

January 1920

The Winnipeg Employers' Association, organized by former members of the Citizens' Committee of One Thousand, is formed.


January 13, 1920

In the appeal court, defence lawyers for R.B. Russell – Robert Cassidy and E.J. McMurray – state that Judge Metcalfe's statements during the R.B. Russell trial prejudiced the jury in the case.


January 18, 1920

A resolution passes at a labor convention in the Strand Theatre proposing to ask all labor unions across Canada and the British Isles to go on strike to force the release of R.B. Russell and the strike leaders.


January 19, 1920

The Manitoba Court of Appeal unanimously decides to refuse R.B. Russell's application for a new trial.


January 20, 1920

On his 39th birthday, Fred Dixon begins his trial. He defends himself against prosecutors Hugh Phillips, Archie Campbell and Joe Thorson and faces Judge Alexander Galt.

The trial for the seven remaining strike leaders – George Armstrong, William Ivens, A.A. Heaps, W.A. Pritchard, R.J. Johns, R.E. Bray, and John Queen – begins.


January 22, 1920

W.A. Pritchard, John Queen, A.A. Heaps and William Ivens request a change of judge, believing Justice Metcalfe to be biased.


January 23, 1920

In day four of the seven strike leaders' trial, A.A. Heaps announces that he intends to enter a motion for disbarment of prosecutors A.J. Andrews, Isaac Pitblado, J.B. Coyne, Travers Sweatman and S.L. Goldstine, due to their professional misconduct.

 

February 3, 1920

During the trial of Fred Dixon, the prosecution states that minutes of the General Strike Committee revealed a plan to make false orders from Eaton's during the strike, in an attempt to inundate the store which was losing staff to the strike. Though prosecutors cannot prove that the plan went forward, they state the aim was to overwhelm the remaining staff in an effort to convince them to strike.


February 10, 1920

Deputy Attorney-General John Allen makes an application before the court for an order calling on William Ivens to address why he should not be held in contempt of court for stating, on December 28, 1919, that R.B. Russell was tried and convicted by a poisoned judge and jury.


February 12, 1920

The trial against returned soldier John Farnell for uttering seditious words begins.


February 14, 1920

Fred Dixon’s trial ends and the jury deliberates. Eleven of twelve jurors vote for acquittal by the end of the day.

During his cross-examination of Mayor Gray, R.A. Bonnar, defence counsel for the seven strike leaders, walks out of court after several disagreements with the witness and Justice Metcalfe.

In the trial of the seven strike leaders, Corporal Campbell of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police states that the Mounties were forced to use their guns to restore order on Bloody Saturday, but further states that after the riots, he picked up shells that were not consistent with those of the RNWMP's .45 caliber revolvers.


February 15, 1920

The last remaining undecided juror in the Dixon trial votes for acquittal.


February 16, 1920

Jury finds Dixon not guilty. Winnipeg Tribune, February 16, 1920. UML.
Jury finds Dixon not guilty. Winnipeg Tribune, February 16, 1920. UML.

The jury returns its verdict and Fred Dixon is found not guilty on all three counts. The trial sets a precedent in Manitoba's legal history, as Dixon did not call any witnesses and his case solely rested on his address to the jury.

The case against J.S. Woodsworth for seditious libel, scheduled to start at 10:30 am, is dropped immediately following the Dixon verdict. Due to the similar nature of Dixon and Woodsworth's charges, the prosecution accepts Dixon's verdict for both cases. Woodsworth still faces a charge of seditious utterances, which will be dropped later in the Spring.


February 17, 1920

A ten minute recess is called by Justice Metcalfe so that defence lawyer R.A. Bonnar can have some "time to cool off", prompted by a charge by Bonnar that Metcalfe was trying to intimidate him (Winnipeg Tribune, February 17, 1920).

 

 


February 18, 1920

The trials of the seven strike leaders faces some delays as Ivens appears in the full court of the King's Bench to address a contempt of court charge.

Returned soldier John Farnell is found guilty of seditious utterance.


February 25, 1920

Defence lawyer R.A. Bonnar suggests in court that the Royal Northwest Mounted Police burned literature they seized during the strike in an incinerator in Elmwood.

 

March 2, 1920

The last witnesses of the prosecution – RNWMP officers Constable John McQueen and Sergeant Kenneth Wynn – conclude their testimonies.

John Queen and A.A. Heaps announce that they are retaining W.H. Trueman to represent them.


March 3, 1920

Defence lawyer R.A. Bonnar states that he will not call witnesses in order to speed up the trial.


March 7, 1920

The charges against J.S. Woodsworth of speaking seditious utterances are dropped.


March 9, 1920

Juror contracts Spanish Flu. Winnipeg Tribune, March 10, 1920. UML.
Juror contracts Spanish Flu. Winnipeg Tribune, March 10, 1920. UML.

The strike trial is postponed until the following Saturday, as juror James Jack contracts influenza and is admitted to the Winnipeg General Hospital. Due to the delay, the remaining jurors spend time "getting a fill of movies and vaudeville, and between shows keep the bailiffs busy finding 'snappy' novels for their entertainment' (Winnipeg Tribune, March 11, 1920).


March 12, 1920

Charges against Dr. S.J. Johannesson, the editor of an Icelandic paper who was accused of making comments about the strike trial that were considered to be contemptuous, are dismissed.

 


March 13, 1920

Juror George Morrison falls ill during the strike trials. As Winnipeg was still recovering from the 1918 influenza epidemic, a physician is brought in to ensure the juror did not contract the Spanish Flu.


March 15, 1920

A.J. Andrews concludes his address to the jury, referring to the Strike Committee as an "autocratic soviet government" and comparing William Ivens to Kaiser Wilhelm (Winnipeg Tribune, March 16, 1920).


March 16, 1920

Defence lawyer W.H. Trueman begins his address to the jury. He faces harsh comments from Justice Metcalfe, who remarks that Trueman is trying to sway the jury into becoming socialists. After several interjections, Trueman tells Justice Metcalfe that he objects to his interruptions. Justice Metcalfe responds: "Unless you proceed you may be sorry" (Winnipeg Tribune, March 16, 1920).


March 17, 1920

Walter Trueman, the lawyer representing Heaps and Johns, quits during his address to the jury, stating that "he was being denied the 'inalienable rights of counsel for the defense'" after Justice Metcalfe denies his request to read an entry about socialism from the Encyclopedia Britannica. Following his resignation, John Queen begins his defence.


March 18, 1920

John Queen, in his address to the jury, states that Andrews and the Citizens' Committee of One Thousand, not the Strike Committee, controlled the city during the Winnipeg General Strike and further accuses his prosecutor Andrews of having a personal interest in convicting him.


Winnipeg Tribune, March 20, 1920. UML.

March 20, 1920

Fourteen hours into his address in court, William Ivens is dismissed due to exhaustion.


March 23, 1920

William Ivens returns to court, following his March 20 dismissal, to read the last six hours of his address. In total, he speaks to the jury for twenty hours.

William Pritchard begins his defence at trial, in which he addresses the jury for sixteen hours over the course of two days.


March 24, 1920

William Pritchard concludes his address at trial.


March 26, 1920

Judge Metcalfe delivers his charge from 8 pm to 12:45 am and dismisses the jury.


March 27, 1920

At 11 am, the jury reports that they are unable to reach a verdict. Foreman D. Bruce asks whether Justice Metcalfe can give the jury anything to guide their deliberations. They return to the jury room with 1,010 exhibits and a copy of the indictment.

At 2 pm (or sometime shortly after), the jury for the seven strike leaders accused of seditious conspiracy and committing a common nuisance return and deliver the following verdicts:

George Armstrong: Guilty on all counts

R.E. Bray: Guilty of committing a common nuisance

A.A. Heaps: Acquitted of all charges

William Ivens: Guilty on all counts

R.J. Johns: Guilty on all counts

W.A. Pritchard: Guilty on all counts

John Queen: Guilty on all counts

William Ivens would later claim that the jury foreman was cut off by Justice Metcalfe when he began to request a lesser sentence, possibly time served.

The six men charged are remanded until April 6, pending sentencing.

 

April 1, 1920

300 men and women working in One Big Union's Tailor unit go on strike, requesting a 44 hour work week and a 40% pay increase. This event is described as the first labor dispute to reach a walk-out stage since the General Strike of the previous Spring.


April 5, 1920

Following their April 1 walk-out, tailors return to work, after being offered a 20% pay increase and a 44 hour week.

The Workers' Defense Committee calls on labour organizations across Canada to hold protest parades on May 1 to support the convicted strike leaders.


April 6, 1920

Justice Metcalfe sentences William Ivens, R.J. Johns, W.A. Pritchard, John Queen and George Armstrong to one year in prison, and R.E. Bray is sentenced to six months.


April 11, 1920

In a letter to the Workers' Defense Committee read at their convention at the Columbia Theatre, secretary of the Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council, Ernest Robinson, states that the strike leaders would not have been convicted had there not been "dissension in the ranks of labor" (Winnipeg Tribune, April 12, 1920).


April 14, 1920

Following a claim from the United States Department of Justice that a U.S. railway strike was being helped by Canadian influences, One Big Union representatives in Winnipeg deny any involvement.


April 23, 1920

Ivens is granted a 2-day parole to see his dying infant son and attend the funeral.

June 8, 1920

Written acceptances of their nominations as provincial election candidates are obtained from John Queen and William Ivens while they serve their prison sentences.


June 9, 1920

Minister of Labour Gideon Robertson is quoted in a statement as saying: "I am strongly of the opinion that Winnipeg strike leaders will never be released upon the recommendations or demands of the defense committee. If clemency is subsequently extended to any of these men, it will not be because of any demands made by those who promoted or participated in the defiance of authority of the federal government and the courts" (Winnipeg Tribune, June 9, 1920).


June 15, 1920

At a meeting of the Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council, a committee is appointed to begin planning Labor day sports events for September 6, an event that had not been held since 1914.


June 29, 1920

William Ivens, George Armstrong and John Queen are elected to the Manitoba Legislature while still serving their sentences. The campaigns of R.B. Russell and R.J. Johns – who are also incarcerated – are unsuccessful, while Fred Dixon, who was acquitted a few months prior to the election, is successful in gaining a seat for the Dominion Labor Party.

September 17, 1920

Roger Bray is the first strike leader to be released from prison at 5 pm.

November 30, 1920

Adolph Berrol, who was sentenced to 23 months in prison for setting the streetcar on fire on Bloody Saturday, is released early for good conduct after serving 12 months and 17 days in prison (Winnipeg Tribune, December 1, 1920).

December 11, 1920

R.B. Russell is released on parole after serving approximately 50 weeks in prison. The news of his release prompts rumours that the other strike leaders may be released early in the New Year, having already had their sentences reduced by 3 days per month for good behaviour.


December 13, 1920

The Canadian Workers' Defence League receives a cheque for $300 from the Vancouver Defence Committee to support the families of jailed strike leaders.


December 27, 1920

R.B. Russell attends a meeting of the Canadian Workers' Defense League at the Board of Trade building on the one-year anniversary of his sentencing. The meeting is attended by approximately 5,000 people. Alderman Heaps and MLA W.D. Bayley speak at the meeting presided by Fred Dixon.

February 28, 1921

George Armstrong, William Ivens, W.A. Pritchard, R.J. Johns, and John Queen are released from prison at midnight.


March 1, 1921

A gathering at the Board of Trade Building takes place to welcome back the jailed strike leaders.


December 6, 1921

J.S. Woodsworth wins a seat in the House of Commons as a Labour representative for Winnipeg North Centre. E.J. Murray, defense lawyer during the strike trials, also wins a seat as a Liberal representative for Winnipeg North.

July 31, 1922

The City of Winnipeg passes By-law #10589, which gives striking employees who were re-hired credit towards their pension for their services prior to the strike.

October 29, 1925

A.A. Heaps is elected as an MP for the Labor Party, representing Winnipeg North.

March 31, 1927

The Old Age Pension Act is assented by the Canadian Government. A.A. Heaps and J.S. Woodsworth helped introduce this first pension plan in Canada.

September 2, 1930

The Slave Pact is rescinded.

August 1, 1932

The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) is formed. The party will later elect its first leader: J.S. Woodsworth. In 1961, the CCF will reorganize as the New Democratic Party.