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Labour at the Lakehead: Ethnicity,…

Labour at the Lakehead: Ethnicity, Socialism, and Politics, 1900-35

by Michel S. Beaulieu

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0774820020, Paperback)

In the early twentieth century, politicians and policy makers
singled out Port Arthur and Fort William (present-day Thunder Bay) as
breeding grounds for revolution, as places where new immigrants
suffered harsh conditions in dockyards, lumber mills, and railway
yards, much to the benefit of radical labour organizations.

This intensely engaging history reasserts Northwestern
Ontario’s rightful reputation as a birthplace of leftism in
Canada by exposing the conditions that gave rise to an array of
left-wing organizations, including the Communist Party, the One Big
Union, and the Industrial Workers of the World. Yet, as Michel Beaulieu
shows, the circumstances and actions of Lakehead labour, especially
those related to ideology, ethnicity, and personality were complex;
they simultaneously empowered and fettered workers in their struggles
against the shackles of capitalism. Cultural ties helped bring
left-wing ideas to Canada but, as each group developed a distinctive
vocabulary of socialism, Anglo-Celtic workers defended their privileges
against Finns, Ukrainians, and Italians. At the Lakehead, ethnic
difference often outweighed class solidarity – at the cost
of a stronger labour movement for Canada.

An original account of working-class politics at the beginning of
“Canada’s century,” Labour at the Lakehead
reveals that ethnic differences often outweighed class
allegiances – at the cost of greater solidarity for
Canada’s left.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:00 -0400)

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