1919 Winnipeg General Strike

Join your brothers and sisters on May 25, 2019 to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the the General Strike that shook the world. Parade and afternoon concert at Memorial Park

Download 1919 Newsletter here:

First Issue
Second Issue

2019 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Winnipeg General
Strike, a crucially important event in the history of our labour
movement and our country. For over six weeks, Winnipeg
was the site of one of the longest general strikes in Canadian
history, which would have a profound impact on the
development of the modern labour movement and Canadian
politics for decades to come.
Winnipeg in 1919 was a city rife with class conflict. Factories
were shutting down, and many soldiers returning from World
War One were unable to find decent work. Working families
resented the huge profits made during the war at the expense
of workers and soldiers. Inflation was out of control and the
working class was unable to keep up. The cost of living had
risen 64 per cent since 1913. Workers demanded the right
to collective bargaining and a decent, living wage – rights we
continue to defend today.
Over the course of the six weeks-long strike, business and
industry ground to a halt, with the central strike committee
coordinating only essential services (like milk deliveries).
Many peaceful protests and marches were held, even in
the face of violence carried out by the so-called ‘specials’,
replacement police officers hired by the Citizens’ Committee
of 1000 (Winnipeg’s business elite) and provided with wagon
spokes as weapons to use against the strikers, after the regular
city police force stood in solidarity with other striking workers.
The aftermath of the strike saw the institution of a minimum
wage, improved workplace health and safety laws,
employment standards, and eventually many of the labour
rights we have today. It was also a catalyst for strengthened
labour-oriented political parties, first with the Canadian
Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and then with the New
Democratic Party (NDP).
Today, Manitoba’s labour movement is hard at work preparing
to celebrate the legacy of the Winnipeg General Strike
100 years on. Over the coming months, we will be holding
many special events and presenting many commemorative
projects to celebrate this special anniversary. Winnipeg will
also host a large number of union conferences in 2019, as
labour organizations across the country mark this important
That is why we have developed this guide, to help conference
organizers and attendees plan out their stays in Winnipeg this
We cannot stress enough how overwhelming the support
for the centennial celebration has been from the labour
movement here in Manitoba and across Canada. Without the
dedication of all of the unions recognized on the back page of
this newsletter, none of these events would happen.
We have developed this newsletter to provide important
information about the events and legacy pieces that will
mark the exciting year ahead, but also to provide readers will
intriguing content to bring the history and importance of the
strike alive. We hope that you continue to turn to the pages
of upcoming newsletters to find out more information about
the exciting things that are in the works for 2019 here in
In solidarity,
Kevin Rebeck and Basia Sokal
Co-chairs of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike Centennial