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At Work: Historical Images of Labour in Saskatchewan

At Work: Historical Images of
Labour in Saskatchewan

University of Saskatchewan


Linked titles have been digitized and are available through this site. Most of the listed titles are held at the University of Saskatchewan Library and may be consulted there or requested through Interlibrary Loan.

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Backhouse, Constance
Colour-Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canada, 1900-1950.
Toronto: Published for the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History by University of Toronto Press, 1999.

One of the cases of legal discrimination examined is the unsuccessful attempt of a Chinese restauranteur to be exempted from a civic ordinance prohibiting the employment of white women by Asians in Regina.

Barna, Laszlo
Working: Images of Canadian Labour, 1900-2000.
Toronto: Key Porter Books, 1999.

Working is a photographic record of Canadian labour in the twentieth Century. From turn-of-the-century pieceworkers to miners, strikers, fishers, factory workers, and the unemployed, the book is described by the publishers as “the literal face of labour – defiant, joyful, determined and full of hope.”

Brown, Lorne
When Freedom Was Lost: The Unemployed, the Agitator and the State.
Montréal: Black Rose Books, 1987.

An account of how governments responded or failed to respond to the massive unemployment occasioned by the Great Depression of the 1930s. Examines the drifting of the jobless across the country and the plight of many who found no option but low wage work in the welfare camps that were eventually established to control their movements.

Colligan-Yano, Fiona
The Story of Workers' Compensation in Saskatchewan.
Regina: Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board, c1997.

Workers’ compensation programs have been established to insure that workers and/or their dependents receive financial compensation for medical expenses and lost income if they are injured or killed on the job. Employers generally are charged assessment premiums which are used to provide compensation payments to injured workers regardless of fault.

Danysk, Cecilia
Hired Hands: Labour and the Development of Prairie Agriculture, 1880-1930.
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1995.

Endicott, Stephen
Bienfait: The Saskatchewan Miners' Struggle of '31.
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002.

An account of the failed attempt of coal miners in the Estevan area to improve their lot through the formation of a union with the aid of the Workers’ Unity League and its struggle for recognition through a bitter thirty-day strike.

Howard, Victor
“We Were the Salt of the Earth!": A Narrative of the On-to-Ottawa Trek and the Regina Riot.
Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina, 1985.

A detailed account of the strike of relief camp workers in 1935, and their attempted expedition to Ottawa, which was stopped by force during a bloody riot in Regina on July1 1935.

Lectures in Canadian Labour and Working-Class History / edited by W.J.C. Cherwinski and Gregory S. Kealey.
St. John's, Nlfd. Committee on Canadian Labour History, 1985.

Makahonuk, Glen
Class, State and Power: The Struggle for Trade Union Rights in Saskatchewan, 1905-1997.
Saskatoon: The Author, c1997.

Morton, Desmond
Working People: An Illustrated History of Canadian Labour.
Ottawa: Deneau Publishers, 1980.

Rollings-Magnusson, Sandra
Heavy Burdens on Small Shoulders. The Labour of Pioneer Children on the Canadian Prairies.
Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2009.

This book focuses on the work of children on prairie farms.

Saskatchewan. Dept. of Culture and Youth
Toil and Trouble: An Oral History of Industrial Unrest in the Estevan-Bienfait Coalfields.
Regina: Dept. of Culture and Youth, 1975.

This educational kit includes interviews with participants in one of Saskatchewan’s most bitter and controversial labour disputes. In the Fall of 1931 six hundred miners struck a group of 22 coal mining companies in the Estevan area. The unrest climaxed on September 29 when a riot began. Three miners were killed, 23 more suffered injuries, four bystanders were shot and eight policemen injured.

Saskatchewan. Royal Commission on the Coal Mining Industry in the Province of Saskatchewan, 1934
Regina: King’s Printer, 1935.

Includes an examination of the situation of the mine-workers, including their wages, hours of labour and living and working conditions.

Saskatchewan. Workers' Compensation Board
Workers' Compensation: a Canadian Success Story.
Regina: Workers' Compensation Board, 1998.

Taylor, Doug
For Dignity, Equality and Justice.
Regina: Saskatchewan Government Employees Union, 1984.

Waiser, Bill
All Hell Can't Stop Us: The On-to-Ottawa Trek and Regina Riot.
Calgary: Fifth House, 2003.

In early June 1935, one thousand relief camp strikers boarded freight trains in Vancouver to take their grievances directly to Ottawa. Their trek was forcibly stopped by authorities in Regina on July 1 1935, later known as “The Bloodiest Day of the Depression.”

Waiser, Bill
Park Prisoners: The Untold Story of Western Canada’s National Parks, 1915-1946.
Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1995.

This book explores the experiences of various groups of men confined to work at construction projects in Canadian national parks, including Prince Albert National Park, during the two World Wars and the Great Depression. These men included “enemy aliens”, employment relief workers, conscientious objectors, prisoners of war and Japanese Canadians removed from their British Columbia homes during the Second World War.

Warren, Jim and Carlisle, Kathleen
On the Side of the People: A History of Labour in Saskatchewan.
Regina: Coteau Books, 2005.

A generously illustrated introduction to the history of the province’s working class and its efforts to improve its situation through the organization of unions, collective bargaining and political lobbying.

Wright, Richard Thomas
In a Strange Land: A Pictorial Record of the Chinese in Canada, 1788-1923.
Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1988.

A profusely illustrated account of the lives of Chinese emigrants who were first sought and tolerated as a much needed labour force in development of the Canadian West. They were later excluded and discriminated against as economic conditions changed.

Wylie, Robin
A Guide to Primary Labour Sources Held by the Saskatchewan Archives Board.
Saskatoon: Dept. of History, University of Saskatchewan, 1988.

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Construction of Runways at Saskatoon Airport, 1947.


“The Estevan Story, 1931 to 1970,” Canadian Labour, Vol. 16, no. 1 (1971) 10-11, 16.

A comparison of the 1931 coal miners’ strike for improved wages and working conditions with a lengthy strike by hospital workers in the same city during 1969-70.

“Working on the Farm,” Canadian Dimension, Vol. 15, no. 5 (1981), 39-42.

An account of the condition of farm laborers in Saskatchewan and the attempts of the Canadian Farm-Workers Union to promote farm labour legislation.

Backhouse, Constance, “ The White Women's Labor Laws: Anti-Chinese Racism in Early Twentieth-Century Canada,” Law and History Review, Vol. 14, no. 2 (1996), 315-368.

This article includes an account of the unsuccessful appeal of a Chinese restaurant owner in Moose Jaw to the Supreme Court of Canada against a provincial statute that prohibited him from employing white women at his business. The act was not rescinded until 1931.

Banks, Cara, “Saskatchewan Working Women: Labour Movement Legacies,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 31, no. 2 (2006), 357-374.

Saskatchewan Working Women was organized in the 1970s by a group of feminist union women, to mobilize women and union leaders around issues such as affirmative action, day care, part- time work, maternity leave and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Bilson, Beth, “The Prairie Face of Labour.” Published in Perspectives of Saskatchewan edited by Jene M. Porter. Winnipeg, University of Manitoba Press, 2009, 197-214.

Bourgeault, Ron, “Aboriginal Labour in the North-West,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 31, no. 2 (2006), 273-304.

Concerns the employment of Métis in the fur trade.

Brennan, Patrick H., “'Thousands of Our Men Are Getting Practically Nothing at All to Do: Public Works Relief Programs in Regina and Saskatoon, 1929-1940,” Urban History Review / Revue d'histoire urbaine, Vol. 21, no.1 (1992), 33-45.

Brown, Lorne A., “Unemployed Struggles in Saskatchewan and Canada, 1930-1935,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 31, no.2 (2006), 193-216.

Brown, Lorne A., “Unemployment Relief Camps in Saskatchewan, 1933-1936,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 23, no. 3 (1970), 81-104.

An account of the establishment of work camps at Dundurn and other locations to remove single and homeless unemployed men from urban centres. It was hoped by officials that this would minimize the possibility of political agitation and upheaval.

Cherwinski, Joe, "Early Working-Class Life on the Prairies." Published in The Prairie West: Historical Readings edited by R. Douglas Francis and Howard Palmer. Edmonton: Pica Pica Press, 1992, 544-556.

Conway, J. F., “Labour and the CCF / NDP in Saskatchewan,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 31, no. 2 (2006), 389-426.

Crossman, Beverly, “Notes on a Life in the Labour Movement,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 31, no. 2 (2006), 331-335.

Crossman has served as executive director of both the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN), and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU).

Danysk, Cecilia, “Showing These Slaves Their Class Position: Barriers to Organizing Prairie Farm Workers,” Published in Building Beyond the Homestead edited by David C.Jones and Ian Macpherson. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1985, 161-177.

Endicott, Stephen, “Bienfait: Origins and Legacy of the Coal Miners' Strike of 1931,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 31, no. 2 (2006), 217-231.

An examination of the bitter coalmine strike at Estevan supported by the Workers’ Unity League (WUL).

Gallagher, Pat, “Government and the Public Sector in Saskatchewan,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 31, no. 2 (2006), 381-388.

Examines the changing relationships of public sector unions with their employers under a number of Saskatchewan governments.

Healy, Theresa, “Engendering Resistance: Women Respond to Relief in Saskatoon, 1930-1932,” Published in "Other" Voices: Historical Essays on Saskatchewan Women edited by David De Brou and Aileen Moffatt. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina, 1995, 94-115.

Hewitt, Steve, “September 1931: A Re-interpretation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Handling of the 1931 Estevan Strike and Riot,” Labour / Le Travail, Vol. 39 (1997), 159-178.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) role in a violent confrontation with striking miners in Estevan in 1931, that left three workers dead, is reexamined in light of recently unclassified RCMP documents. Hewitt argues that police incompetence and unpreparedness was as much to blame as the belief that the police were puppets of the coal mine owners.

Krempien, Brian and Murphy, Michael, “Three Miners Die in 1931 Union Fight,” Briarpatch, Vol. 9, no. 4 (1980), 36-37.

An account of the Estevan coalminers ‘strike of 1931.

Li, Peter S., “Chinese Immigrants on the Canadian Prairie, 1910-47,” Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology / Revue canadienne de sociologie et d'anthropologie, Vol. 19, no. 4 (1982), 527-540.

Li, Peter S., “ Constructing Immigrants' Work Worlds from Oral Testimonies,” Canadian Oral History Association Journal, Vol. 9, (1989), 91-12.

McCormack, A. Ross, “The Western Working-class Experience,” Published in Lectures in Canadian Labour and Working-Class History edited by W.J.C. Cherwinski. and Gregory S Kealey. St. John’s: Committee on Canadian Labour History, 1985, 115-126.

McCormack, A. Ross, “Wobblies and Blanketstiffs: The Constituency of the IWW in Western Canada,” Published in Lectures in Western Canadian Labour and Working Class History edited by W. J. C. Cherwinski and Gregory S. Kealy. St. John’s: Committee on Canadian Labour History, 1985, 101-114.

Makahonuk, Glen, “The 1948 Coal Miners' Strike: A Disappointing Lesson for Labour,” Briarpatch, Vol. 13, no. 2 (1984), 27-30.

An account of the unsuccessful strike led by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).

Makahonuk, Glen, “Class Conflict in Saskatoon during the 'Red Decade',” Briarpatch, Vol. 12, no. 4 (1983), 28-30.

Examination of the fear of class violence that led to the establishment of work camps in the 1930s.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Class Conflict in a Prairie City. The Saskatoon Working-class Response to Prairie Capitalism, 1906-1919,” Labour/Le Travail, no. 19 (Spring 1987), 89-124.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Craft Unionism and the 1912 Strike Wave,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 44, no. 2 (Spring 1992), 59-67.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Enough is Enough! The Lanigan Miners’ Strike, “Canadian Dimension, Vol. 20, no. 8 (1987), 22-23, 40.

Makahonuk, Glen, “The Estevan Strike and Riot of 1931,” Briarpatch, Vol. 26, no.4 (1997), 19-23.

Makahonuk, Glen, “In Union is Strength: The University of Saskatchewan Employee’s Union strike of 1974,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 48, no. 1 (1996), 30-43.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Labour in a Prairie City: The Saskatoon Working Class Experience and Response to Capitalism, 1906-1919,” Published in The Politics of Work in the West: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives edited by Harley D. Dickinson and Bob Russell. Saskatoon: Social Research Unit, Department of Sociology, University of Saskatchewan, 1985, 5-69.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Labour Relations and the Saskatchewan Coal Miners’ Strike of 1948-49,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 39, no. 1 (1986), 1-20.

Makahonuk, Glen, “The Labouring Class in Saskatchewan’s Economy, 1850 to 1912,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 46, no. 1 (Spring 1994), 22-34.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Masters and Servants: Labour Relations in the Saskatchewan Civil Service, 1905-1945,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 12, no. 1 (Fall 1987) 257-276.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Organized Labour and the CCF,” Briarpatch, Vol. 22, no.8 (1993), 29-32.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Out of Work: the Unemployment Crisis of 1913-1915 in Saskatoon,” Saskatoon History Review, No. 11 (1996), 25-34.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers. A Case Study in Saskatchewan Labourism, 1906-1919,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 10, no. 1 (1985) 189-204.

Makahonuk, Glen, “The Regina "May Day Strike" of 1910,” Briarpatch, 13, 7 (1984), 29-31.

Makahonuk, Glen, “The Regina Painters' Strike of 1912,” Saskatchewan History, vol. 35, no.3 (Autumn 1982), 108-120.

Makahonuk, Glen, “The Saskatchewan Coal Strikes of 1932: A Study in Class Relations,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 9, no. 1 (1984),79-99.

Makahonuk, Glen, “The Saskatoon Relief Camp Workers' Riot of May 8, 1933: An Expression of Class Conflict,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 37, no. 2 (1984), 55-72.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Trade Unions in the Saskatchewan Coal Industry 1907-1945,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 31, no. 2 (Spring 1978), 51-68.

An account of the Mine Workers’ Union of Canada, the Saskatchewan Coal Miners Union (SCMU) and the United Mine Workers of America.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Twixt Hammer and Anvil. The 1927 Saskatoon Smithy Workers' Strike,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 42, no. 2 (Spring 1989), 49-61.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Wage Labour in the Northwest Fur Trade Economy, 1760-1849,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 41, no. 1 (Winter 1988), 1-17.

Makahonuk, Glen, “Workers' Unity League: Shoulder to Shoulder in Struggle,” Briarpatch, Vol. 13, no. 8 (1984), 25-27.

Makahonuk, Glen, “The Working and Living Conditions of the Saskatchewan Deep Seam Coal Miners, 1930-1939,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 33, no. 2 (Spring 1980), 41-55.

McCuaig, Ian, and Sass, Bob, and Stobbe, Mark, “Labour Pains: The Birth of a New Industrial Relations Order in Saskatchewan, 1982-1990,” Published in Devine Rule in Saskatchewan: A Decade of Hope and Hardship edited by Lesley Biggs and Mark Stobbe. Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1991, 149-175.

An examination of the lots of both organized and unorganized workers during the governments of Conservative premier Grant Devine (1982-1991).

Pimlotte, Ralph, “Closing Relief Camps Sparks Riots,” Briarpatch, Vol. 12, no.1 (1983), 28-29.

Russell, Bob, “A Fair or a Minimum Wage? Women Workers, the State and the Origins of Wage Regulation in Western Canada,” Labour / Le Travail, Vol. 28 (1991), 59-88.

An investigation of the minimum wage and wage differentials between female and male workers in Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

St. Denis, Michael, “The Great Depression: Letters from the Relief Camps of Prince Albert National Park and Dundurn, Saskatchewan,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 28, no. 2 (2003), 235-237.

Smillie, Christine, “The Invisible Workforce: Women Workers in Saskatchewan from 1905 to World War II,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 39, no. 2 (1986), 62-79.

The article examines the concentration of female workers in domestic and personal service and the disparity in wages between male and female workers.

Smith, David, “Workers' Control and Saskatoon Workers, 1906-1913,” Saskatchewan History, Vol. 40, no. 3 (1987), 109-113.

An examination of the role of workers’ groups and unions during the initial boom in Saskatoon’s development. Highlights the relationship of the managements of the city’s two newspapers with the Saskatoon Typographical Union.

Stewart, Barbara, “The Regina Riot,” Labour History, Vol. 1, no. 4 (1978), 15-16.

Strikwerda, Eric, “ From Short-Term Emergency to Long-Term Crisis: Public Works Projects in Saskatoon, 1929-1932,” Prairie Forum, Vol. 26, no. 2 (2001), 169-186.

Thompson, John Herd, “Bringing in the Sheaves: The Harvest Excursionists, 1890-1929,”Canadian Historical Review, Vol. 59, no. 4 (1978), 467-489.

Waiser, Bill, “Victim No. 2,” The Beaver, Vol. 83, no. 4 (2003), 26-28.

An account of Nicklas (Nick) Schaack, a participant in the 1935 On-To-Ottawa Trek and the Regina Riot.

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University of Saskatchewan Horticulture Research, [ca. 195-?].


Brown, Lorne
The Bennett Government: Political Stability and the Politics of the Unemployed Relief Camps 1930-1935. PhD Thesis, Queen’s University, 1979.

Cherwinski, Walter Joseph Carl
The Formative Years of the Trade Union Movement in Saskatchewan 1905-1920. MA Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 1966.

Cherwinski, Walter Joseph Carl
Organized Labour in Saskatchewan, the TLC years, 1905-1945. PhD Thesis, University of Alberta, 1972.

Hanson, Stan
The Estevan Strike and Riot, 1931. MA Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 1971.

Lindsay, Robert A.
Co-operation and Conflict : the CCF and the Canadian Congress of Labour in Saskatchewan, 1944-1956. MA Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 1987.

Makahonuk, Glen
Labour Relations in the Saskatchewan Coal Mines During the 1930. MA Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 1976.

St. Denis, Michael
Camp 9: An Historical and Archaeological Investigation of a Depression Era Relief Camp in Prince Albert National Park. MA Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 2002.

Strikwerda, Eric
From Short term Emergency to Long-Term Crisis: Public Works Projects in Saskatoon, 1929-1932. MA Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 2000.

Warren, Jim W.
From Pluralism to Pluralism: the Political Experience of Organized Labour in Saskatchewan from 1900-1938. MA Thesis, University of Regina, 1985.

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Arthur Rose Dry Cleaners, [ca. 1915].

Digital Resources

All in a Day’s Work. Exploration of the history of New Brunswick’s people at work

Canadian Labour History Bibliography

Saskatchewan Department of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour

Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board

Saskatchewan Working Women (Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan)

Saskatoon and District Labour Council. 100 Years of Community Involvement.

Labour-Three Centuries of Working for Wages in Saskatchewan (Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan)

Labour and Politics (Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan)

Saskatoon Works: Vintage Images of Saskatoon Men and Women at Work

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Saskatchewan Wheat Pool Staff Office Scene, [ca. 192-?].


Black Wednesday, the Lanigan strike [video recording] / ECWU.
Toronto : Labour Video Communications, 1987.
Videocassette (18 min.)

A documentary examining the issues and events which took place during the strike in Lanigan, Saskatchewan in 1986. August 13 was called "Black Wednesday" by the members of Local 922 ECWU when a riot squad arrived to arrest 60 strikers, immediately after a court injunction had limited pickets to five at a time. Interviewed are striking workers, labour leaders, spousal support groups and religious leaders.

Cherwinski, Walter Joseph Carl
Early Working-Class Life on the Prairies.
Ottawa: National Museum of Man: National Film Board of Canada, [1985?]


Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?
Edgar Bergen ~ American ventriloquist, the voice of the dummy Charlie McCarthy (1903—1978)