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The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919

            After the First World War, the economy in Canada was very fragile1. Workers in both public and private jobs were frustrated with poor working conditions that they had faced. The Canadian public were angered due to inflation of 10 percent in 19192 in Canada. The unemployment rate had also skyrocketed, which meant that returning WW1 soldiers did not have any jobs to return to. The people of Winnipeg had had enough, so on May 15th of 1919, public and private workers worked together to reduce most services in the city. The city had no mail services, taxis, newspapers, restaurants, and retail stores. Surprisingly, even the police and firefighting forces had joined the strike3. For 6 weeks, the City of Winnipeg was crippled. But what really caused the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919? A wide variety of factors influenced workers to stand up to the government. The main factors included workers wanting better working conditions and wages, negotiations between management and unions not going exactly as planned, and returning soldiers not getting their old jobs back. .
             In the early decades of the 1900s, working conditions were not very safe. In Canada during the 1900s, the Canadian Pacific Railway was being expanded upon due to a flood of immigrants to the Prairies4. This meant that that a large portion of the jobs in the province of Manitoba were involved with the railroad. The Prairie climate was brutal, and the workers were often injured due to falling rocks caused by misuse of explosives around mountains5. Due to the type of the job, the workers were not usually able to return home every night. Instead, they had to sleep in unsanitary tents and overcrowded bunkhouses. The company that controlled the workers, however, deducted money from the workers' paychecks for staying overnight and blanket and bed rentals. This meant that they were not making as much money as their families needed. There were also many new jobs in factories because of the popularity of new inventions.

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