July 27 Ginger Goodwin Murdered

July 27, 2017

On this day in labor history, the year was 1918.

That was the day miner’s president Ginger Goodwin was shot dead in British Columbia.

His murder sparked Canada’s first general strike, in Vancouver the following week.

Goodwin had arrived in British Columbia 8 years earlier and found work in the Cumberland Mines on Vancouver Island.

He considered working conditions in the mines absolutely appalling and began advocating for safety and organizing miners.  He was soon blacklisted after participating in a two-year coal miner’s strike for recognition on the island.

He moved to Trail, British Columbia, where he emerged as a Socialist Party candidate in the 1916 elections.

He was also elected president of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, District 6, the vice-president of British Columbia’s Federation of Labor and the head of the local Trades and Labor Council.

He openly expressed his opposition to Canada’s entry into the war, stating that workers were now employed in killing each other.

He was found unfit for military duty after a medical exam.

That was, until he led a strike for the eight-hour day at Consolidated Mining & Smelting.

It was the world’s largest lead and zinc smelter and a key munitions producer during the war.

His status was quickly changed to make him eligible for conscription.

He fled to the Cumberland Hills, where he hid out for months to avoid the draft.

On this day, Goodwin was shot dead by a Dominion Police Special Constable.

He was brought back to Cumberland, where thousands turned out for his funeral in a mile long procession. 

The Vancouver labor movement was outraged by Goodwin’s murder and called a one-day general strike on August 2 to protest his killing.

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