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Champagne and Meatballs

Athabasca University Press and Canadian Committee on Labour History | Working Canadians: Books from the CCLH


Active for over forty years with the Communist Party of Canada, Bert Whyte was a journalist, an underground party organizer and soldier during World War II, and a press correspondent in Beijing and Moscow. But any notion of him as a Communist party hack would be mistaken. Whyte never let leftist ideology get in the way of a great yarn. In Champagne and Meatballs — a memoir written not long before his death in Moscow in 1984 — we meet a cigar-smoking rogue who was at least as happy at a pool hall as at a political meeting. His stories of bumming across Canada in the 1930s, of combat and camaraderie at the front lines in World War II, and of surviving as a dissident in troubled times make for compelling reading.

The manuscript of Champagne and Meatballs was brought to light and edited by historian Larry Hannant, who has written a fascinating and thought-provoking introduction to the text. Brash, irreverent, informative, and entertaining, Whyte's tale is history and biography accompanied by a wink of his eye.

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Active for over forty years with the Communist Party of Canada, Bert Whyte was a journalist, an underground party organizer and soldier during World War II, and a press correspondent in Beijing and Moscow.

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Larry Hannant is a Canadian historian specializing in twentieth-century political dissent. He is the author of The Infernal Machine: Investigating the Loyalty of Canada's Citizens and the editor of The Politics of Passion: Norman Bethune's Writing and Art, which won the Robert S. Kenny Prize in Left/Labour Studies. He also researched and co-wrote a feature-length documentary film on the Doukhobors, The Spirit Wrestlers, which was broadcast on History Television in 2002. He currently teaches at Camosun College and the University of Victoria.

 
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Cover zur kostenlosen eBook-Leseprobe von »Union Power«

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Union Power

Athabasca University Press and Canadian Committee on Labour History | Working Canadians: Books from the CCLH


From factory workers in Welland to retail workers in St. Catharines, from hospitality workers in Niagara Falls to migrant farm workers in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Union Power showcases the role of working people in the Niagara region. Charting the development of the region’s labour movement from the early nineteenth century to the present, Patrias and Savage illustrate how workers from this highly diversified economy struggled to improve their lives both inside and outside the workplace. Including extensive quotations from interviews, archival sources, and local newspapers, the story unfolds, in part, through the voices of the people themselves: the workers who fought for unions, the community members who supported them, and the employers who opposed them.

Early industrial development and the appalling working conditions of the often vulnerable common labourer prompted a movement toward worker protection. Patrias and Savage argue that union power – power not built on profit, status, or prestige – relies on the twin concepts of struggle and solidarity: the solidarity of the shared interests of the working class and the struggle to achieve common goals. Union Power traces the evidence of these twin concepts through the history of the Niagara region’s labour movement.

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"[Union Power and Working People in Alberta] provide an excellent look into the history of labour in Canada and how it has changed over time. Most notably each is an important addition to the struggle to keep labour history in the public eye."

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"A rich and compelling book that highlights the important role unions played in Canada’s Niagara region in both historical and contemporary periods. . . . The quality and quantity of original archival and oral history research is impressive."

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Carmela Patrias is a professor in the Department of History at Brock University. Her publications include: Patriots and Proletarians: Politicizing Hungarian Immigrants in Canada, Discounted Labour: Women Workers in Canada, 1870–1939, co-authored with Ruth Frager, and Jobs and Justice: Fighting Discrimination in Wartime Canada, 1939–1945.

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Larry Savage is associate professor of labour studies and political science and director of the Jobs and Justice Research Unit at Brock University.

 
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Working People in Alberta

Finkel, Alvin (Hrsg.) | Athabasca University Press and Canadian Committee on Labour History | Working Canadians: Books from the CCLH


Working People in Alberta traces the history of labour in Alberta from the period of First Nations occupation to the present. Drawing on over two hundred interviews with labour leaders, activists, and ordinary working people, as well as on archival records, the volume gives voice to the people who have toiled in Alberta over the centuries. In so doing, it seeks to counter the view of Alberta as a one-class, one-party, one-ideology province, in which distinctions between those who work and those who own are irrelevant. Workers from across the generations tell another tale, of an ongoing collective struggle to improve their economic and social circumstances in the face of a dominant, exploitative elite. Their stories are set within a sequential analysis of provincial politics and economics, supplemented by chapters on women and the labour movement and on minority workers of colour and their quest for social justice.

Published on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Alberta Federation of Labour, Working People in Alberta contrasts the stories of workers who were union members and those who were not. In its depictions of union organizing drives, strikes, and working-class life in cities and towns, this lavishly illustrated volume creates a composite portrait of the men and women who have worked to build and sustain the province of Alberta.

With contributions by Jason Foster, Winston Gereluk, Jennifer Kelly and Dan Cui, James Muir, Joan Schiebelbein, Jim Selby, and Eric Strikwerda

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“… Three chapters stand out. Joan Scheibelbein’s provided an easy-to-grasp general history of the role of women in the Alberta workplace over the past 100 years. Jennifer Kelly and Dan Cui’s discussion of minority workers broadened my knowledge of this forgotten sector. Finkel’s concluding chapter explains how Alberta suffers from the highest worker fatality rate in Canada even while its laws remain consistently anti-labour”

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“Working People in Alberta sheds light on the western end of working-class Canada and situates Alberta workers in a national context.... Finkel and the eight other contributors cover the headline-grabbing events from this history, but also strive to include the often voiceless members of the working class using direct quotes from First Nations workers, immigrant workers (particularly Ukrainians), and women workers.”

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“Beautifully designed and illustrated, Working People in Alberta is a model of public history that meets the needs of labour activists and working people for an informed knowledge of provincial history. ... In times like these, history can be read with a purpose, and Working People in Alberta succeeds in achieving its goals. Union activists and their allies in all provinces will find this an instructive history, for this is a celebration not of any particular labour organization but of the vision of a more just distribution of our social and economic wealth that is shared by workers across Canada.”

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"[Union Power and Working People in Alberta] provide an excellent look into the history of labour in Canada and how it has changed over time. Most notably each is an important addition to the struggle to keep labour history in the public eye."

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Alvin Finkel is professor of Canadian history at Athabasca University, where he has taught since 1978. Best known as the co-author (with Margaret Conrad) of the two-volume History of the Canadian Peoples, his main areas of research and teaching are the history of social policy, labour history, and Western Canadian history.

 
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The Wages of Relief

Athabasca University Press and Canadian Committee on Labour History | Working Canadians: Books from the CCLH


In the early part of the Dirty Thirties, the Canadian prairie city was a relatively safe haven. Having faced recession before the Great War and then again in the early 1920s, municipalities already had relief apparatuses in place to deal with poverty and unemployment. Until 1933, responsibilty for the care of the urban poor remained with local governments, but when the farms failed that year, and the Depression deepened, western Canadian cities suffered tremendously. Recognizing the severity of the crisis, the national government intervened. Evolving federal programs and policies took over responsibility for the delivery of relief to the single unemployed, while the government simultaneously withdrew financing for all public works projects.

Setting municipal relief administrations of the 1930s within a wider literature on welfare and urban poor relief, Strikwerda highlights the legacy on which relief policymakers relied in determining policy directions, as well as the experiences of the individuals and families who depended on relief for their survival. Focusing on three prairie cities—Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg—Strikwerda argues that municipal officials used their power to set policy to address what they perceived to be the most serious threats to the social order stemming from the economic crisis. By analyzing the differing ways in which local relief programs treated married and single men, he also explores important gendered dynamics at work in the response of city administrators to the social and economic upheaval of the Depression. Probing the mindset of local elites struggling in extraordinary circumstances, The Wages of Relief describes the enduring impact of the policy changes made in the 1930s in the direction of a broad, national approach to unemployment—an approach that ushered in Canada’s modern welfare system.

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“In this accessible, clearly written, and convincingly argued book, Eric Strikwerda offers a carefully researched and nuanced take on the history of the Great Depression. […] Choosing to place prairie cities at the centre of this history of urban unemployment offers a refreshing take on the history of the Depression in the West, which is overwhelmingly remembered as a story of drought-ridden farms rather than industrializing and expanding cities and economies tightly linked to agricultural production. […] Strikwerda’s careful and sensitive differentiation between unmarried and married men adds a layer of complexity to the larger category of masculinity and contributes to the historical and theoretical literature on the regulation, politicization, and control of male bodies in an urban, capitalist, and industrial society.”

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“Strikwerda employs both solid scholarship and an engaging style... The Wages of Relief provides insight into the origins of some of our current social systems and the strains that can be placed on cities during times of economic distress.”

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“Strikwerda unwinds his fascinating tale about the federal government’s slow encroachment on municipal relief machinery. […] It is a well-constructed argument. [The Wages of Relief] would be well-suited to a course on the Depression in Canada given its many threads, thorough research, pleasant writing, and the unresolved debate at its conclusion.”

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Eric Strikwerda teaches Canadian history at the University of Alberta and labour studies/industrial relations at Athabasca University.

 
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Provincial Solidarities

Athabasca University Press and Canadian Committee on Labour History | Working Canadians: Books from the CCLH


Established in 1913, the New Brunswick Federation of Labour is the second oldest provincial federation of labour in Canada. Its history began in early campaigns for workers’ compensation and union recognition and continues today in the latest battles to defend social standards, secure employment, and union rights. Active initially in the port city of Saint John and the railway centre of Moncton, the federation soon expanded to include workers in the mines and mills of the north, taking up the causes of public employees and women workers and confronting the realities of life and work in a bilingual society.

A pioneering study, written in clear and forceful prose, this is the untold story of provincial labour solidarities that succeeded in overcoming divisions and defeats to raise the status of working men and women within New Brunswick society. Drawing on archives, newspapers, and workers’ own descriptions of their experiences, Frank makes an original contribution to our understanding of the political, economic, and social development of the province. In so doing, he helps meet the need for an informed public awareness of the history of workers and unions in all parts of Canada.

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“Both instructive and engaging, Provincial Solidarities is a welcome addition to the field, where all too often the experiences of Atlantic Canadian workers take a backseat to those in the industrial heartland, or to the so-called 'radicals' of Western Canada.”

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“One of this book's strengths, quite apart from its thoroughness and research, is the way it has succeeded in contextualizing this umbrella organization into the fabric of social history, so we can see both the changing issues with each passing era, and the themes that continually recur.”

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“Frank convincingly demonstrates that the Federation’s influence rested on the necessary, ongoing task of building and rebuilding solidarity among workers and working-class organizations. . . . Provincial Solidarities demonstrates that the labour movement’s achievements have come from sustained collective action. As labour’s accomplishments continue to come under heavy attack, Frank has made an important contribution: he shows how the past teaches us the critical importance of solidarity in tackling the challenges facing working people today.”

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“Frank makes it apparent that the federation has always struggled to secure its footing in a province where full-time, permanent employment has long been a contentious issue. As such, it had, of necessity, to swing between pragmatism and a more militant orientation. Nevertheless, Provincial Solidarities demonstrates that the workers of the province took their responsibilities seriously as concerned and conscientious citizens, most notably with respect to the economic and environmental health of New Brunswick. The book, an important one for New Brunswick, will be of interest to historians, sociologists, and political scientists, and it is well suited for undergraduate courses on labour, economic, and political issues. That the book was released in the province’s two official languages makes it doubly significant for the people whose history it recounts.”

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“David Frank offers a wide compendium of federation struggles to improve labor laws in this Atlantic Canada province. Of particular importance were the many attempts to address workplace health and safety and workers’ compensation. What broadens the scope of this history, however, is Frank’s attention to the role of women and minorities who worked to build the federation and to fight the hard fights that are part of New Brunswick labor’s history. This veteran labor historian displays an insightful ability to address the strong points in that history and to resist avoiding the flaws.”

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“Frank’s portrait of the federation is sympathetic and positive, but it is no mere celebration of past achievements. The book offers a carefully reasoned reminder of the contribution of unions and their central organizations. The provincial context necessarily takes priority, but readers are given the opportunity to observe where the New Brunswick story resembles and differs from patterns in other provinces. We are left wishing for similar historical accounts of other provincial federations and the labour histories they reflect.”

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David Frank teaches Canadian history at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. A former editor of the journal of Atlantic regional history, Acadiensis, he has published numerous studies in Canadian history, including Labour Landmarks in New Brunswick / Lieux historiques ouvriers au Nouveau-Brunswick (with Nicole Lang). His classic study of Cape Breton coal miners, J. B. McLachlan: A Biography, received several historical and literary awards, including the Dartmouth Book Award (Non-Fiction) and the John W. Dafoe Book Prize.

 
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Solidarités provinciales

Athabasca University Press and Canadian Committee on Labour History | Working Canadians: Books from the CCLH


La Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Nouveau-Brunswick, fondée en 1913, est la deuxième plus ancienne fédération provinciale du travail au Canada. Son histoire remonte aux premières campagnes en faveur de l’indemnisation des accidents du travail et de la reconnaissance syndicale, et elle se poursuit dans les plus récentes luttes visant à défendre les normes sociales et à protéger les emplois et les droits syndicaux. La Fédération a vu le jour dans la ville portuaire de Saint John et le centre ferroviaire de Moncton, puis elle s’est étendue aux travailleurs des mines et des usines du nord de la province, soutenant la cause des employés du secteur public et des travailleuses, reflétant les réalités de la vie et du travail dans une société bilingue. Puisant dans les archives, les journaux et les expériences des travailleurs et des travailleuses, voici l’histoire inédite de solidarités syndicales provinciales qui ont surmonté les divisions et les revers afin de rehausser le statut des travailleurs et des travailleuses dans la société néo-brunswickoise. Par cette étude pionnière rédigée dans un style clair et puissant, Frank apporte une contribution originale à la compréhension de l’évolution politique, économique et sociale de la province, et il aide à combler le besoin d’éclairer la connaissance que le public a de l’histoire des travailleurs et des syndicats de toutes les régions du Canada.

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« De toute évidence, l’histoire de la FTTNB offre un excellent prétexte à l’examen plus approfondi de l’histoire du syndicalisme néo-brunswickois, mais également des enjeux plus larges touchant à la fois le politique, l’économique et le social sur le plan provincial. L’ouvrage de David Frank s’avère donc méritoire. Il s’agit d’un effort essentiel qui déborde largement les cadres initiaux de son objet : en effet, au lieu d’une histoire stricte de la FTTNB, Frank nous offre plutôt une histoire partielle, ouvrière et syndicale, de l’histoire du Nouveau-Brunswick au XXe siècle. »

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« Avec Solidarités provinciales, le professeur David Frank du Département d’histoire de la University of New Brunswick propose un ouvrage original, retraçant cent ans d’histoire du Nouveau- Brunswick, du point de vue des travailleurs et travailleuses de cette province. Ce type d’histoire sociale est encore trop rare, particulièrement en ce qui a trait au Nouveau-Brunswick et au mouvement syndical. Le ton adopté par Frank se veut descriptif, non-théorique et dépourvu de jargon académique. Il participe d’un projet éducatif populaire dans une province qui a rarement accordé un traitement juste et équitable au mouvement syndical. Il convient ici de donner une mention spéciale à l’impeccable traduction française de Réjean Ouellette. »

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« Un tel ouvrage de synthèse demeurait inexistant pour le Nouveau-Brunswick et fait toujours défaut dans l'historiographie syndicale et du travail d'une majorité de provinces canadiennes. L'ouvrage Solidarités provinciales s'adresse à un public large et interpelle à la fois les lecteurs et lectrices universitaires, les salarié-e-s et les militants et militantes syndicaux. À travers une histoire claire et concise de la FTTNB, David Frank nous permet de mieux saisir les principaux enjeux sociaux, économiques et politiques qui marquent l'histoire contemporaine du Nouveau-Brunswick. »

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« Ce livre vient ajouter une pièce majeure à l’histoire du mouvement ouvrier au Canada L’auteur, grand spécialiste de l’histoire canadienne à la University of New-Brunswick, nous fait bénéficier de ses importantes connaissances du mouvement ouvrier canadien en général ainsi que de celui du Nouveau-Brunswick en particulier. Tout au long de son récit, il fournit une analyse comparative fort pertinente de ce qui se produit ailleurs dans l’ensemble du Canada au cours des mêmes périodes. C’est d’ailleurs cette analyse comparative qui permet à l’auteur de faire ressortir le caractère « distinct » de la FTTNB par rapport aux autres fédérations provinciales. »

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David Frank est professeur d’histoire canadienne à la University of New Brunswick à Fredericton. Ancien directeur d’Acadiensis : revue d’histoire de la region atlantique, il a publié de nombreuses études en histoire canadienne, dont Labour Landmarks in New Brunswick / Lieux historiques ouvriers au Nouveau-Brunswick (avec Nicole Lang). Son étude classique sur les mineurs de charbon du Cap-Breton, J.B. McLachlan: A Biography, lui a valu plusieurs prix d’histoire et littéraires, dont le Prix Livre Dartmouth (études et essais) et le prix John W. Dafoe.

 
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