Registration Now Open for the May 26 – 28, 2017 Conference

Echoes of the 1917 Russian Revolution: Decades of Radicalism and Red Scares in the Labour Movements of the Pacific Northwest
May 26 – 28

Early Bird Registration Now Open

Presented in collaboration with the BC Labour Heritage Centre

The PNLHA and BC LHC welcome trade unionists, students, academics and others interested in labour history and worker’s heritage to this conference.


The Nest – 6133 University Blvd Vancouver, BC Canada (University of British Columbia campus)

2017 Conference Program (PDF color)
2017 Conference Program (PDF b/w)

Registration Details:
Register online with PayPal or
download instructions for registration by mail with check.

Hotel Accommodations:
Registrants are responsible for booking your own accommodation. A limited block of rooms has been secured at the Ponderosa Suites – 2017 W. Mall. This is a new student residence 5 minutes walk from the conference site. (Shuttle for those requiring).

There are 2 options, both offer daily housekeeping:

A) Ponderosa Studio Suite: double bed, full kitchen, private bath @ $120.00 per room/night + 13% taxes; or

B) Ponderosa Premium Single: a single bed within a 4-bedroom unit with 2 full bathrooms, kitchen, dining and sitting area @ $56.00 per person/night + 13% taxes

Make reservations by APRIL 25th directly with UBC Accommodations. Indicate you are with the “PNLHA Labour History Conference” for the reduced rate.

Tel (604) 822-1000 | Toll Free 1-888-822-1030 | Fax (604) 822-1001

Subject to availability, these rates are extended 3 days before and 3 days after the conference for those wishing an extended stay in Vancouver. Cancellation charges will apply.

Note: Parking is an additional $16/day or $35/wk.  Transit express bus to downtown 20 minutes.

Questions? Email or call Joey Hartman at 778-870-0703

2017 PNLHA Conference – Call for Papers

Echoes of the 1917 Russian Revolution; Decades of Radicalism and Red Scares in the Labour Movements of the Pacific NorthwestCFP

May 26 – 28, 2017
Labour History Conference
Vancouver, British Columbia

Sponsors: Pacific Northwest Labour History Association & BC Labour Heritage Centre

The Russian Revolution was one of the most significant events of its decade. As described in Oregonian John Reed’s book, there were events leading to and flowing from those “Ten Days That Shook the World” in October 1917.

In Canada and the US, many 20170453269_95b7cbaa22_oworkers saw an opportunity for class war, believing that socialism could overcome capitalism as the dominant political reality. In the Pacific Northwest, new forms of industrial organizing were bolstered by aspirations of a new world order, and the labour movement briefly swelled with enthusiastic members who were eager to be part of the change.

Communists and socialists developed as key leaders in the labour movement, and in organizing the unemployed and disenfranchised. General strikes in Vancouver, Seattle, and Winnipeg, the OBU, On-to-Ottawa Trek, and jobless sit-down strikes, and new unions of woodworkers, miners, shipyard workers, and fishers were all communist and socialist-led.

21835627452_062d9964f9_oBut capitalism held firm and enjoyed the resources and political clout of the wealthy. Activists were tagged as Bolsheviks and foreign-born agitators risked deportation for their activism.

The cold-war politics lasted decades, with “red-led” unions subject to purges and disbandment. Many individuals suffered personal consequences, including losing their livelihood.

This conference will explore the impacts and lasting influences of this history on contemporary labour.

Continue reading

BC Labour Heritage Centre launches online map


Helen’s Café mural in Kitimat, BC, depicts the role the workers in building the northern community.

The British Columbia Labour Heritage Centre has developed a new online map of places associated with the history of working people in BC that includes information from 143 locations so far.

The map features plaques remembering workers killed on the job, geographic location names, recognition of individuals who championed the rights of working people and the union movement, says a BCLHC call for new additions. “Each point contains photos, locations, descriptions, and further links for people to learn more of our shared past, and new sites are added every week.”

Go to to view what is said to be the first such inventory in BC. If you know of a dedication, memorial, or commemoration to any working person or people that is not included in the map, contact

Miners’ Memorial Weekend in BC

MMW_logo_2015PNLHA members who attended the 2014 conference in Cumberland, BC, will recall the excellent music and presentations on Miners Memorial Weekend. This year the annual celebration of workers and their families is set for June 16-18, 2016, and you’re invited.

The event pays tribute “to those injured and killed while at work, those who have fought to improve the safety and quality of life of workers everywhere, and the history of resistance and activism from workers and their families,” says BC PNLHA VP Brian Carleton.

Some of the highlights: a screening of the newly released documentary Goodwin’s Way, an oral history workshop, a book reading by Richard Somerset Mackie, a plaque dedication in honor of organizer Joe Naylor, a presentation of Ginger Goodwin: A Worker’s Friend by graphic novelist Laura Ellyn, the ceremony at Goodwin’s graveside, and the community supper with guest speakers and performers.

To register for the Oral History Workshop, or to find out more about participation in the Listening Booth oral history project, click here. For more, go to Search ‘31st Annual Miners Memorial Weekend’ on Facebook for on-going updates.


Remembering BC working people

lhc-021-1024x446-compressorThe British Columbia Labour Heritage Centre is inviting people to participate in its latest project, “Remembering Working People: Plaques Around the Province Project.”

Project goals: identify and catalogue existing memorials and install a new series of cast bronze plaques documenting events, actions, episodes, movements, experiences, groups, individuals or places that have not been recognized to date.

“This is an exciting project that will increase public awareness of the history of working people in British Columbia in a permanent way,” LHC chair Ken Novakowski said.

The LHC is reaching out to as many labour and community groups as possible to fulfill these goals. The focus is on BC regions outside the urban centers and anyone can submit a nomination.

View the project website: . Contact project manager Donna Sacuta: .


BC film depicts worker history

These Were the Reasons DVD coverB.C. filmmaker Howie Smith’s 28-minute documentary, These Were the Reasons, provides an event-by-event glimpse at “the struggle of working people of B.C. to win basic union rights.”

Smith offers “a window into a century of union history.” Using interviews with workers, social activists, and trade unionists recorded over the past 40 years, Reasons unfolds that history “as told by those who lived it.”

Historic photographs and film footage depict the fight for equity and social justice, peace protests, winning the 40-hour week, and child labor. Interview subjects comment on labor martyr Ginger Goodwin, the On to Ottawa Trek, health care workers’ struggle against government attacks, and teachers “standing up for learning conditions.”

The film is designed as a teaching tool that connects B.C. workers’ history with today’s issues. To order DVDs, contact Smith at .

New book by PNLHA songsters

Rika Ruebsaat %26 Jon Bartlett MED

Rika Ruebsaat and Jon Bartlett perform at Princeton traditional music festival.

In the winter of 1932–33 Mounties charged into picket lines in Princeton, B.C., the Ku Klux Klan issued threats, and legendary labor organizer Arthur “Slim” Evans was bundled onto the next train out of town.

That’s the historical backdrop of a new book called Soviet Princeton by PNLHA regulars Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat. They were most recently seen and heard at our Seattle conference on May 1-3, 2015, where they led us in songs by Wobbly Joe Hill.

The book promises to take us back to the days when “Princeton’s few thousand citizens saw much of the human drama of the Great Depression play out right in their own lives over the course of just a few months.”

NSB cover tempSoviet Princeton adds a fascinating sidebar to Canadian left-labor history in that two years after the Princeton strike Evans led the 1935 On to Ottawa Trek to protest Depression-era homelessness and deplorable conditions in the relief camps of the day.

The book will be available in October 2015. You can order your copy at NewStar Books at or 604-738-9429. Cost is $18 USD and $19 CDN for the 160-page volume with 12 black and white illustrations.

New film on BC labor martyr Ginger Goodwin

Ginger+Goodwin+Way+Sign+CUA new documentary film takes us back to the early 1900s in the coal mining regions of Vancouver Is. where labor martyr Ginger Goodwin spent his last days before being shot and killed by a special police constable.

Goodwin’s Way revisits that labor history through a modern-day lens focused on the struggle to keep Goodwin’s memory alive. Here’s a brief synopsis from .

“When highway signs commemorating folk hero Ginger Goodwin disappear, the documentary Goodwin’s Way finds the nearby Cumberland, B.C., at a crossroads with its history.

“Goodwin, a rebellious labour activist, was slain by police under mysterious circumstances almost a century ago, yet his name still elicits wounds that date back to the town’s coal mining past.

“Residents weave an oral tapestry of fact and myth – some remember Goodwin as a criminal, while many others admire the ideals of equality and self-determination he fought for.  Those ideals have long been overshadowed by Cumberland’s dependency on a resource economy, which are chronicled from boom times to bust.

“Now, as young families set their sights on building a sustainable generation, a new proposal for a coal mine threatens to make history repeat itself. Amidst an effort to oppose the project, residents young and old reconnect with Ginger Goodwin’s legacy – his ‘way’.

Goodwin’s Way straddles the dividing line between historical and current-event documentary genres to tell the story of a community fighting for autonomy over its past, and its future.”

See the film trailer at .

Vancouver labor celebrates 125th year


Joey Hartma, VDLC president and PNLHA BC treasurer

On November 21, 2014, Vancouver, BC, trade unionists will celebrate the Vancouver and District Labour Council’s 125th anniversary. On November 21, 1889, a group of trade unionists met in the Sullivan Hall on Cordova Street in Vancouver where they agreed to form the Trades and Labor Council of Vancouver to address “matters pertaining to the welfare of workingmen.” Fifteen days later the council was officially launched and has continued to this day as one of Canada’s oldest labour organizations. The celebration will be held from 5 pm to 8 pm at the Maritime Labour Centre Conference Room, 1880 Triumph St. (at Victoria Dr.) in Vancouver. The PNLHA’s Joey Hartman is president of the VDLC.

BC labor history book project launched

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LHC’s Ken Novakowski (left) and author Andy Neufeld

A coalition of labor organizations in British Columbia launched a labor history book project on October 21 that promises to “provide a broad overview of BC labour history,” according to a poster produced for the event.

The coalition consists of the Labour Heritage Centre, the BC Federation of Labour and the Morgan Centre for Labour Studies at Simon Fraser University. The three provincial organizations share the goal of having the book cover the role of the union movement and working people in building the west coast province.

LHC president Ken Novakowski praised the project’s main financial backer, the Community Savings Credit Union, which is providing $200,000 to fund the book to be published by Harbour Publishing. The CSCU has long been seen as labor’s credit union.

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PNLHA member David Yorke with historic pins

Author Andy Neufeld, a PNLHA member, told the gathering of about 50 labor and community leaders that the book would cover a wide range of events and issues and it would do so with a strong eye on diversity and gender.

Neufeld, who will be working closely with LHC research Robin Folvik, a regular at PHLHA conferences, also said there would be plenty of photographs, illustrations and innovative graphic elements to make the book readable and appealing to all audiences. It will be a fun, colorful and accurate portrayal that will highlight the many struggles of the province’s workers but would not shy away from examining its flaws, he said.

Not since the Canadian centennial year 1967 has there been such an ambitious labor history publishing project. As Neufeld pointed out, it has been almost 50 years since the BC Fed published No Power Greater by the late labor historian Paul Phillips.

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Poster commemorating the kick-off of the book project

Also present at the launch party was BC Fed president Jim Sinclair, who recently announced that he is stepping down after 15 years at the helm of the province’s biggest labour body.

The two candidates who have come forward as candidates for Sinclair’s job – BC Fed secretary-treasurer Irene Lanzinger, a former president of the BC Teachers’ Federation and Canadian Labour Congress Pacific region director Amber Hockin, a former CLC health and safety representative – were also at the launch party. The federation election occurs in November.

PNLHA member David Yorke was also on hand with his impressive collection of labor pins dating to the 19th century.

Work is to begin immediately on the new book.