On today’s episode, we’re discussing the Winnipeg General Strike’s depiction in the 2019 film Stand!
Stand! is a Canadian musical about two Romeo and Juliet-like recent immigrants whose families disapprove of their relationship due to their different backgrounds. The two of them become involved in the Winnipeg General Strike during their love story. This movie is not so easy to find; I accessed it through my local library, so check there, but you can also check this link for links to streaming services that have it: https://stand-movie.com/about/.
For those who don’t know, the Winnipeg General Strike was a major strike in 1919 that essentially shut down the city’s economy. At the time, Winnipeg was Canada’s third-largest city and a vital industrial hub in the nation’s economy. Over 30,000 workers joined the strike, which was about one-sixth of the city’s population at the time. The strike lasted six weeks before ultimately failing when Winnipeg’s mayor called on the North-West Mounted Police to break it. Though the strike did not succeed in any immediate improvements to the lives of workers—in fact, many suffered consequences for participating in the strike—it is remembered as an important event in the history of labour and capitalism in Canada.
On today’s podcast, we talk about how Stand! depicts the history of the strike, labour, relations between different ethnic groups, and much more. To discuss all this with me, I’m joined by Nick Fast. Nick is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Toronto whose research focuses on the history of labour and capitalism in North America, with a focus on Winnipeg.
For those who’d like to learn more about the history of anti-immigrant bigotry in Canada’s labour movement, read David Goutor’s Guarding the Gates: The Canadian Labour Movement and Immigration, 1872-1934 (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007). For those interested in the history of the legal status of labour movements, read Judy Fudge and Eric Tucker’s Labour Before the Law: The Regulation of Workers’ Collective Action in Canada, 1900-1948 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004).
Podcast logo is made by https://www.instagram.com/nethkaria; intro and outro music is from “Mystery,” recorded in 1919 by Paul Biese and his Novelty Orchestra. Follow the show on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/offcampushistory/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/offcampushistory)! You can also email the show at offcampushistory[at]gmail.com.