WAISER, Bill




Author Tags: Labour

The despair and marginalization of underpaid and underfed unemployed men in 54 so-called relief camps in the B.C. Interior during the Depression spurred the Communist organizer Arthur 'Slim' Evans to mobilize protesters, identified as strikers, in April of 1935. Congregrating in Vancouver, they seized control of the library and museum, 'snake-danced' through the Hudson's Bay Company department store, and eventually decided to head en masse to confront the R.B. Bennett federal government. On June 3, 1935, Evans and more than 800 'On-to-Ottawa' trekkers boarded a CPR freight to go east. Bill Waiser's chronicle of those times, All Hell Can't Stop Us: The On-To-Ottawa Trek and Regina Riot (Fifth House, 2003) chiefly outlines the so-called riot in Regina where the RCMP had a training depot. Alleging the protesters were part of a Communist conspiracy to overthrow the government, R.B. Bennett had the RCMP forcibly disband the protestors and end the trek with brute force. Much of downtown Regina was damaged and there were two deaths: trekker Nick Schaak and Regina policeman Charles Millar. Waiser quotes one of the trekkers, Harry Linsley, who recalled years later, "All we ever wanted was work and wages." [See also Slim Evans, A.M. Stephen entries]

[BCBW 2005]