• WWI veterans returned to find jobs were gone or very low paying
  • One Big Union (OBU) formed to represent all workers
  • Employers create a militia
  • 24 000 workers went on strike; later increased to 35 000


  • Workers demanded a pay increase and that employers negotiate with unions
  • Employers organized a militia force of 5000
  • Immigration Act changed by House of Commons to allow deportation of anyone not born in Canada
  • “Bloody Saturday” – thousands participated in a silent protest march; violence developed when mayor read the “Riot Act” ordering the militia and police to charge the crowd; 2 killed and several injured; union leaders were arrested


  • 1918-1919 series of strikes across Canada
  • Largest in Winnipeg


  • 6 weeks in May-June of 1919


  • Wages only increased 18% during war years while prices increased 80%
  • Returning soldiers jobless – resented those who stayed home during the war
  • Influenced by Russian Revolution (communist threat)
  • Employers were afraid to deal with unions because of what happened in Russia

How is this important? (Historical Significance)

  • The largest strike in Canadian history (largest number of people on strike)
  • Caused relations between labor groups (unions) and government to be difficult; many of the strike leaders went on to form their own political parties to work for workers’ rights; the Conservative party traditionally shunned by labor groups
  • Proved the power of the people to rise up to enact change – the growing divide between rich and poor was not acceptable to many Canadians
  • Discrimination against immigrants made legal by House of Commons amendment to Immigration Act
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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