Michael Dupuis has written two books on the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Victoria man pens novel on historic labour strike

Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 brought Western Canadian labour leaders together to demand rights

A Victoria contributes to Canadian history records with the release of his second book about the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.

Michael Dupuis is a retired history teacher and historian who’s been interested in the strike since 1973, when he did his masters thesis on the subject at the University of Ottawa.

The Winnipeg General Strike saw nearly 30,000 men and women walk off the job to demand higher wages, improved working conditions, a 44-hour work week and collective bargaining rights. The strike brought leaders together from across Western Canada, and while their efforts would ultimately fail at the time, Dupuis said it was a turning point in the country for labour and middle class rights.

“I realized this strike was a real good example of employers who had everything – they had money, they had power – and the workers were second class, a resource that was exploited,” he said. “The strike lasted six weeks. They held out.”

His latest non-fiction book titled, The Winnipeg General Strike – Ordinary Men And Women Under Extraordinary Circumstances, is a follow-up to his first book on the same subject. Published in 2014, Winnipeg’s General Strike – Reports from the Front Lines, focused heavily on journalists’ accounts of the event.

RELATED: Labour Day celebrated to remember workers’ rights

He said the powerful members of Canadian society – which often included the press – painted the workers as radicals and communists.

“There was a lot of fear of them.”

When asked how the impacts of the strike have lasted, Dupuis said the workers turned to political action.

They elected MLAs and mayors who supported their rights and some of the leaders in the labour movement formed a political party called the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), which in 1973 became the New Democratic Party.

RELATED: Canadian labour leader Bob White dead, instrumental in creating CAW

“Collective bargaining became more common after that too,” he said, although there was a period of negative ramifications for business and workers in Winnipeg.

Dupuis is headed to Winnipeg in May for the 100th anniversary of the strike. He was invited by the provincial government to do some few talks and promote his book.

“Once one of these big things loses legs, it kind of drops off the radar. I have a feeling the same thing will happen after the 100th anniversary of the strike,” he said. “I’m really honoured to have been invited. And the major force behind the commemorative activities is the labour movement.”

Since his second book was released in December, it has sold nearly 1,100 copies. The Winnipeg General Strike – Ordinary Men And Women Under Extraordinary Circumstances can be purchased at Munro’s Books and the Indigo at Mayfair Shopping Centre.

Dupuis has also done consulting work for historical movies and CBC television programs on subjects such as the Halifax Explosion and the Titanic.

RELATED: Victoria author pens biography on Emily Carr’s monkey, Woo



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Double lung transplant gives West Shore man second chance

Co-owner of West Shore Barber Shop grateful for every minute of the 16 years transplant has provided

Hallmark movie filming in Oak Bay

Shooting for ‘Sunshine’ continues into June across Greater Victoria

City says traffic pattern on Bay Street Bridge will stay as is until October

Commuters began facing long waits on Tuesday morning after the east-bound lane was closed

Home where Proctor murder took place removed from Langford’s Affordable Housing Program

Langford woman almost purchased home, decided against it after hearing history

PHOTOS: Victoria youth continue to gather for climate action

Local students participated in a global movement calling for climate action

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Volunteers already rescuing fry from drying creekbeds around Cowichan Lake

It’s early but already salmon fry are being left high and dry

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72 and living in North Delta, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterrey, Calif.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

Most Read