1919: The Winnipeg General Strike

Throughout Europe, the end of the First World War brought in its wake disillusion, civil unrest and even revolution. As Daniel Francis explains here, it was the same story in Canada in 1919.

At the end of the First World War peace did not come to Canada. Four years of conflict abroad had exacerbated all sorts of social tensions at home. The cost of living had risen about 75 per cent during the war, while wages fell far behind. Returned soldiers swelled the ranks of the unemployed. Relations between Anglo-Canadians and immigrants from Europe who had crowded into the country in the pre-war years were souring; the traditional antagonism between French and English Canadians had deepened with the introduction of conscription. Government and business leaders responded poorly to the discord. The federal election of 1917 had been the most corrupt in Canadian history. The suffrage was openly manipulated to ensure that the party in power would remain there and ethnic tensions were intentionally inflamed. While working people struggled to make smaller incomes go further, prominent industrialists were allowed to collect windfall profits selling food and munitions to the Allied armies.

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