Reverberating effects of the 1910's on Canadian History. Today's Canada is a product of the multitude of important events of its past. Similar to anything, it's history is what defines it. Many of these events were major events that helped Canada develop and move forward as a country, such as the Winnipeg general strike, the persons case, and the influenza epidemic. All these events can still be felt in today's society, and affect our everyday lives.
Unions today illustrate the effect of the Winnipeg general strike through high levels of organization and a high member count. This event occurred from May 15th- June 25th of 1919. it was considered one of the best known general strikes, in all of Canada, which had massive unemployment and inflation rates. The success of the Russian Revolution in 1917, and rising Revolutionary Industrial Unionism all contributed to the postwar labour unrest that fuelled the landmark strike.
On March of 1919 western labour leader met in Calgary, to discuss the creation of One Big Union. In Winnipeg on the 15th of May, when negotiations broke down between management and labour in the building and metal trades, the Winnipeg Trades and Labor Council (WTLC) called a general strike, which put the principle of collective bargaining, and better wages and working conditions at risk for the working population. Within a couple hours over 30,000 people left their jobs. This resulted in all of Winnipeg's factories closing down, the retail market collapsing and all the trains to be stopped.
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The federal government decided to step in to resolve the problem, seeing that it might spread to other cities and cause confrontation. Citizens were ordered to return to work or else they would be dismissed, if they refused all British-born immigrants would be deported. On June 21st, the Royal Canadian Mountain Police, charged into a crowd of strikers which resulted in one death and 30 casualties, known as "Bloody Saturday". The strikers all later decided to go back to work on June 25th 1919. This strike left a legacy of bitterness and controversy among organized labour groups across Canada, which resulted in increased unionism and militancy.
The Persons Case was a constitutional ruling that established the right for women to be appointed to the Senate. The case was initiated by the Famous Five, which was a group of prominent women activists, that included Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Irene Parlby, Louise McKinney and Emily Murphy. In 1928, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that women were not "persons" according to the British North America Act and therefore they were ineligible for appointment to the Senate.
However, the women appealed to the Privy Council of England, which in 1929 reversed the Court's decision. The Persons Case opened the Senate to women, enabling them to work for change in both the House of Commons and the Upper House. The legal recognition of women as "persons" meant that women could no longer be denied rights based on a narrow interpretation of the law. By 1927, most Canadian women were able to vote in federal elections and provincial elections except Québec who joined in 1940. This event really helped Canada and, allows women in our time to be treated equally and have the same opportunities that men have.
The Spanish influenza epidemic which occurred in 1918, uniquely lethal in attacking young, healthy bodies, killed at least 20 million people worldwide, including an estimated 50,000 Canadians. The flu was spread through bodily fluids and moved quickly through the population. The flu presented itself through fatigue and cough, but quickly attacked the body, creating mucous build-up in the lungs that could not be expelled. Victims of the flu could be dead within a day of contracting the illness.
Canada's flu dead included soldiers who had survived the fighting overseas only to succumb to illness once in Canada and thousands of family members who welcomed them home but perished soon after their arrival. The loss of so many Canadians had a profound social and economic impact on a country that had already suffered 60,000 war dead. The combined death toll significantly reduced the workforce. It left thousands of families without a primary wage earner and orphaned thousands of children. In attempting to stop the spread of the disease, many local governments shut down non-essential services. Provinces imposed quarantines and protective masks were required in public places. The epidemic led directly to the formation of the federal Department of Health in 1919.
In conclusion the events between 1910-1920, affected and still affects Canada to this day, with our everyday lives at work, with equal pay, and safe work environments. For women and their right to vote, and legally be considered a "person" and the right to be appointed as Senate. As well as Canada as a whole, with the influenza epidemic, that affected 50,000 Canadians, and left many in despair. These events lead to the formation of organized associations, and right all of which still exist in Canada today.
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