Estevan Strike and Riot, 1931
R-A318 to R-A327, R-A357, R-A433 to R-A435
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Summaries of interviews
Interviews conducted in 1973 under the "Towards a New Past Programme" of the Cultural Activities Branch of the Department of Culture and Youth. In the 1920s and early in the 1930s, mining coal in southern Saskatchewan was a gruelling and highly underpaid job. These interviews are an attempt to document the story of the Estevan strike and riot which occurred in the fall of 1931 when miners were finally able to organize to improve working conditions and wages. As with most controversial issues, accounts of what actually happened vary from person to person. Among those who were interviewed are six miners, one city policeman, a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman, a city councillor, a bystander who was wounded during the riot and a miner's wife. Together, the miners provide a clear picture of the conditions under which they worked and lived, early attempts to organize and the response they received from their employers. They speak of events leading up to the strike of mine workers in the Estevan area, the support they received and the antagonism that developed against them. The riot is described from their point of view, from the perspective of the police involved and also that of bystanders. Several of these accounts were used in the Towards A New Past publication Toil and Trouble: An Oral History of Industrial Unrest in the Estevan-Bienfait Coalfields. It was used successfully in a number of schools across the province to supplement the Social Studies curriculum. This would be an important resource for anyone studying early mining conditions and the union organization of mine workers in the 1920s and 1930s.
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