Monday, 5 December 2011

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

December 6th marks the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women in Canada. Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, this day marks the anniversary of the murders in 1989 of 14 young female engineering students at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal for the simple reason that they were women. This event, known as the Montreal Massacre, has become a galvanizing moment for all Canadians to reflect on all forms of gender-based violence in our society and to take action for its elimination.

Violence and harassment against women in the workplace continues to be a serious labour issue in Canada. On November 12, 2005, nurse Lori Dupont was murdered by a co-worker during a shift at Windsor’s Hotel-Dieu Hospital after suffering months of on-the-job harassment and reluctance by hospital management and staff to confront her abuser.

Violence in the workplace, regardless of the gender of the victim or abuser, can take many forms and can include harassment from patients, customers and clients; harassment from managers, superiors, or co-workers; criminal acts such as theft or robberies committed in someone's workplace like a bank or store; and domestic abuse which can carry over into a victim's workplace.

In 2000, the Canada Labour Code was amended Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (SOR/86-304) to include Violence in the Workplace prevention.

On June 15, 2010, the Ontario government amended the Occupational Health and Safety Act to strengthen protections for workers from workplace violence and address workplace harassment.

At 10:00 am on December 6, delegates from the 9th Annual CEP National Women's Conference on a march from the Westin Hotel (downtown Ottawa) to Parliament Hill in recognition of Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

The event will feature:
• First Nations Drummers
• Nycole Turmel, Leader of the Official Opposition, NDP MP for Hull-Aylmer
• Maria Mourani, Bloc Québécois MP
• Wendy Cukier, President, Coalition for Gun Control
• Suzanne Laplante-Edward (mother of Anne-Marie Edward, École Polytechnique victim)
• Rose ceremony, roll call of École Polytechnique victims

Participation is open to all.

For more information on ways to prevent workplace violence check out the Canadian Labour Congress's website here, the Ontario Ministry of Labour website here, and the Department of Justice website here.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Call for Volunteers

Dear Members,

The Workers History Museum is very excited about a promising new partnership with the Ottawa City Archives.

The Museum will be provided with office space in the new Archives building on Woodroffe Avenue, and in exchange we are required to provide volunteers to provide 30 hours of staffing as part of the agreement with our two groups.

The volunteers would need to be able to make a weekly commitment to this staffing. After receiving an orientation to the Archives, their tasks would include staffing the Museum's desk and providing a voice for labour history in the Archives. The idea is to create a body of knowledge regarding Ottawa labour and working class history.

We require eight volunteers who can commit to working a four-hour block, as well as a list of names of individuals who would be interested in becoming substitute volunteers if it were required. The Archive is located at 100 Tallwood Drive (at the corner of Woodroffe) and is accessible by car and by the Transitway. The hours are Tuesday to Friday, 9-4, and during the winter months, are open Saturdays 10-5. More details about the Ottawa City Archives can be found here:

For more information or to volunteer, please email Sanna at, or call at 613-421-8677.

I hope to hear from many of you!


Sanna Guérin

WHM Archives Coordinator

Monday, 31 October 2011

WHM Celebrates Person's Day and Women's History Month

You could have heard a pin drop during the Winnipeg General Strike storytelling evening
by Ottawa storytellers Donna Stewart and Sherri Yasbani, at Carleton University’s Minto
Centre, October 18th. The audience of more than thirty people was captivated by the
realities of life in the early 1900s leading up to the 1919 strike.

Ruth Stewart-Verger, also a storyteller was there assisting as she was unable to talk due
to illness. Donna and Sherri told the story of Elizabeth Coulter and Helen Armstrong, two
women with very differing views whose families were involved in the Winnipeg Strike.
Our thanks to Sherri for stepping in at the last minute and doing an incredible job telling
Helen’s story.

What made this especially interesting is that Elizabeth was Donna’s grandmother, so it is
a personal recollection of events at the time.

The event to celebrate Person’s Day and Women’s History Month was co-sponsored
by Carleton University’s Centre for Public History and Department of History and the
Workers’ History Museum, and supported with a donation from the Public Service
Alliance of Canada’s Ottawa Regional Women’s Committee

We had a panel discussion afterwards with Donna Stewart, Barb Byers the Executive
Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress and Robyn Benson the PSAC’s
Regional Executive Vice-President for the Prairies. They spoke about the gains from the
strike to today and the struggles that everyone, not just women, face to keep these gains,
given the current government’s attitude towards human and social rights.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Announcing Our Third Panelist!

The WHM is pleased to announce our third panelist for the October 18th Storytelling event. Robyn Benson is the Regional Executive Vice President for the PSAC Prairie region. We are excited to have Robyn join us.

For more information about Robyn please click here. For more information about the other panelists and the story telling event, please click here.

We are looking forward to seeing you all on the 18th!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Women and the Winnipeg General Strike

From May 15 to June 28, 1919, the City of Winnipeg was engulfed in Canada's most famous strike. The Winnipeg General Strike emerged from a cauldron of social unrest including such ingredients as the deteriorating economic situation for workers, the return of unemployed WWI veterans, and the growing size of the labour movement. This led to an upsurge of support for the One Big Union, and the leadership they could provide. The influence of the still developing Russian revolution on the people of Winnipeg coupled with the growing "anti-alien" (and anti-Bolshevik) fury generated by business interests and governments created tension amongst opposing factions in the city. The people had had enough and were ready to strike.

On October 18th, the WHM will be hosting an interactive story telling event on the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 that promises to open the door to a much-neglected aspect of Canada's most famous trade union uprising.

Much has been written on the role of men in the fight for collective bargaining rights, against terrible working conditions and against the vicious attacks of the police, army and the "Citizens Committee of One Thousand". But very little has been written or otherwise published on the critical role played by women during this historic Canadian labour struggle.

The stories of Elizabeth Coulter and Helen Armstrong, and the panel discussion that follows, are steps towards righting this imbalance with their focus on Women in the Winnipeg General Strike.

Please join us on October 18th for the Storytelling event. Admission is $10.00 and all proceeds will go to the Workers' History Museum. The event will be held from 7:30 - 10:00 pm in room 5050 of the Minto Centre, located at Carleton University. For a map of the Campus, click Here.

This event has been co-sponsored by The Workers' History Museum and the Carleton Centre for Public History

Monday, 3 October 2011

Work: Missing in Action

The Ottawa Arts and Heritage Plan focuses on developing the cultural identity of Ottawa. It envisions Ottawa as a thriving centre for local cultural activity and develops a 20-year plan for realizing that vision.

In April 2011 the Worker's History Museum was one of many groups which submitted proposals to the City of Ottawa as part of the 20/20 renewal process. After consultation with various groups, city staff developed draft plan revisions. These are currently being discussed at open houses where the public is invited to comment on the proposed revisions

Unfortunately, there is nothing in the renewal proposal that deals with work or workers. In our opinion, work and workers are an essential part of Ottawa's art, culture, history and heritage. Whatever the reason it was omitted, work is such an important part of everyone's life, and it should not be ignored. Workplaces, working class culture, and the culture of those who work and their families should be included in the Ottawa Arts and Heritage Plan.

If you agree with the idea that Work is important, and should be included in the plan, please attend the last Open House and express your opinion on Wednesday, October 5th at the Richcraft Theatre, Shenkman Arts Centre, from 6:30 to 9pm

Monday, 26 September 2011

Join Us!

Please join us on October 18, 2011 for an interactive storytelling event on the Winnipeg General Strike.

Ruth Stewart-Verger and Donna Stewart from the Ottawa Storytellers will be portraying Elizabeth Coulter and Helen Armstrong from Winnipeg. Following the storytelling will be a panel discussion featuring Ruth Stewart-Verger from the Ottawa Storytellers who will be discussing the benefits that resulted from the strike, and Barb Byers from the Canada Labour Congress who will be discussing how the role of Canadian women has changed in the workplace.

The event will be held from 7:30 - 10:00 pm in room 5050 of the Minto Centre, located at Carleton University. For a map of the Campus, click here.

To find out more about the Ottawa Storytellers, visit their website at To learn more about Barb Byers, please follow the link here.

Admission is $10.00 and All proceeds will go to the Workers' History Museum.

This event has been co-sponsored by The Workers' History Museum and the Carleton Centre for Public History

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

We Have A Logo!

Have a look at the new official logo of the Workers History Museum which debuted for the first time on Colonel By Day.

The Workers History Museum would like to thank Eric Schallenberg who volunteered his time and talent to design the logo. Eric has been in the marketing and communications industry for over 15 years and has worked at some of the city's biggest agencies on several branding initiatives for clients ranging from the federal government to Carleton University, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the Museum of Civilization and the War Museum. In his own time, he does a lot of work for social and cultural organizations including the Mayworks Festival and the Writers Festival. He welcomes any and all interesting projects and can be reached at

We would also like to thank André Mersereau who is the Creative Director at Chapter One Studio and his associate Bronwyn Hammell for their outstanding designs on our promotional products and for donating the printing of the materials. In addition to producing a pamphlet and banner for the museum, they are also working on some design concepts for the WHM's upcoming website. Check out some of their work here.

It was a pleasure working with such a highly talented team of individuals and we look forward to future projects with them.

Monday, 15 August 2011

CUPW and the Fight for Workers' Rights

One significant example is the family leave campaign, which is being examined as part of a current Workers’ History Museum project. When CUPW included a demand for fully paid maternity leave in its 1977 bargaining proposals, the union ended up on strike, the government passed back to work legislation and CUPW President Jean-Claude Parrot was jailed. But the union persevered and in 1981, under Parrot’s leadership, the union became the first in the federal public sector to win paid maternity leave. Other employers and unions took notice and the fight for paid family leave spread throughout the country.

Fast-forward to the most recent negotiations between CUPW and their employer.

Canada Post offered current workers improved wages and the option of keeping their benefits and pensions. All they needed to do in return was agree to a lower starting salary, reduced benefits, and a defined contribution pension for future employees of Canada Post. Improved wages was one thing, but selling out the future generations of workers was not an option for CUPW. They started rotating strikes to get their message across without inconveniencing large numbers of the public. These actions had barely started when Canada Post shut down postal service completely with a nation-wide lockout.

The current conservative government forced through back to work legislation while imposing a wage settlement that was lower than the employer’s last offer, claiming to be supporting the interests of Canadians by restoring postal service. But when you remember that CUPW was locked out by their employer, a crown corporation, and then forced back to work by the federal government, the situation starts to look grim. The federal government, who should be lauding a group for fighting for the rights of future generations of Canadians, instead rewarded them with a wage decrease.

Does this seem odd to anyone?

For more information about the CUPW and the recient postal workers lockout please see Aalya Ahmad and Geoff Bickerton's well -written analysis at:

It’s worth a read.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Col By Day

Kids and parents typing together on an old typewriter, (did you know that the typewriter keyboard was the same as a computer? The kids were amazed at that fact).

Children happily painting images of what people do for “work”. And the public enjoying workers' tools of days gone by.

This was all part of our participation in Col By Day held at the Ottawa locks on August 1st long weekend. Several thousand citizens, and visitors to our fair city, enjoyed the best Ottawa
museums and heritage groups had to offer about the City's history.

This was also the day that we launched our new museum banner and leaflet. It was the first time we got to show off our new logo in public. We’re very proud of it and hope you like it as much as we do.

Thanks go to our volunteers on the day, Pat, Arthur, Erika, Barb, Virginia, Evert, Bob, Barry, and Ken.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Col. By Day

Just a reminder that the Workers' History Museum will be at Col. By Day! Col. By Day is on Monday August 1st this year. We have a table at the Bytown Museum, beside the locks of the Historic Rideau Canal. Stop by to say hello, ask us about our current projects, check out our new logo, and get to know us.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Meet Virginia and the Family Leave Project

Hello All,

Allow me to introduce Virginia. She is a graduate from the University of Ottawa and we are fortunate to have her as our Family Leave Project Researcher and Exhibit Developer for the summer. Virginia is hard at work looking into how different forms of paid leave, such as maternity leave and parental leave, came to exist in Canada. She is researching how unions across the country fought to have paid leave as part of their collective agreements, how the types of leave have changed since their establishment, and how far we could still go to ensure that parents are able to take the time to be parents to their children without fear of losing their jobs or the means to support their families.

For more information about the Family Leave Project, please email us at

Monday, 11 July 2011

Celebrate Working Class History

While on the internet we came across a bit of workers’ history on the Parks Canada’s website. Workers built Canada and played a significant role in shaping its history, laws, institutions, and social progress, yet their role is not always recognized by national institutions. So it’s always interesting when a government department like Parks Canada chooses to recognize our history. Check it out at

And on the subject of celebrating working class history, the Workers' History Museum will be outside the Bytown Museum on Col By Day on August 1st. So come down and say hello! We are eager to meet you and talk about the museum, our upcoming exhibition, and listen to your suggestions on what we can do better.

See you there!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

June Wrap-up

Hello All,

First I want to send out a huge thanks to everyone who reads this blog, and shared the blog with their friends via email, word of mouth, facebook, and twitter. Because of your support the blog had 358 views in June! So keep up the sharing and hopefully that number will go up in July.

Second, I want to let you know about our email addresses and what information should be directed to what address. The new addresses are linked and their uses are explained below.

1) - This is the generic email address for the Workers' History Museum. All general inquiries and information should be sent to this address.

2) - This is the email address for the Communications Committee. Any inquiries and information concerning the website (future website), blog, facebook and twitter accounts, newsletter, and promotional material about the museum should be sent to this address.

3) - This is the email address for the Exhibits and Education Committee. Any inquiries and information concerning exhibitions (both current and suggestions for future exhibits), public programming, walking tours, school programs, oral history programs, public information/promotional days (eg. Col. By Day, Heritage Day, Labour day, etc) should be sent to this address.

4) - This is the email address for the Fundraising and Membership Committee. Any inquiries about becoming a member of the museum, or about fundraising initiatives should be sent to this address.

That's it for now, and thanks again for your support!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Be a Follower, Sharer, and a Tweeter!

Hello All,

We've added some new features to the blog to make it easier for us to share news with you, and for you to share news with your friends. The following features are explained below.

The  Follow This Blog feature located on the right side of the main page allows for you be notified by email every time we post new content. Simply enter your email address in to the box and press Submit. You will receive a confirmation email to the account you provided with a link to confirm that yes, you do want to follow this blog.

The Share This feature, also located on the right side of the main page (below the Follow This Blog feature) allows you to post the blog address on your Facebook Wall or your Twitter Feed. Just click on the option you want and it will direct you to sign into your account and post the blog URL for all your friends and followers to see, read, and enjoy.

Let us know how the new features work for you by leaving us a comment after this post!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Thanks for Your Generosity

To the delegates, observers, staff and guests at the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) National Capital Region (NCR) Convention held from June 3 to 5, 2011

On behalf of the Worker's History Museum, we want to thank you for your generosity that you showed by participating in our fundraising at your convention. We also want to thank the Union of National Defence Employees for helping us out by raffling off two shirts. Through the efforts of everyone, we were able to raise $1,002.00 which will be most beneficial to us in our first year of operation.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Phil Ochs Documentary

Last night at the Mayfair Theatre there was a screening of the new documentary about Phil Ochs, There But For Fortune.  It was a fundraiser for the WHM, generously arranged by the Ottawa Folk Festival, RavenLaw, and the Ottawa Folklore Centre, and the place was pretty much full.

Phil Ochs, if you don't know, was an American singer-songwriter-activist in the 1960s and 70s.  He was one of the early and on-going voices against the Vietnam War and many of his songs - Draft Dodger's Rag, I Ain't Marching Anymore, to name two - reflect this.  His songs were earnest, irreverent, biting, and absurd.  He was far more politically active than, say, Dylan but perhaps as a result not exactly mainstream.  Still, he was incredibly active and influential. 

The film is a good mix footage from the period and contemporary interviews with family, friends, activists, and musicians and it covers the whole range, from Ochs' childhood up to his suicide in 1976.  The screening at the Mayfair was a one night affair but I'd encourage you to be on the look out for it.  Trailers can be seen at this website:

After the screening, most folks headed down to Patty's Pub for a sing-a-long led by Arthur McGregor.  As a bonus, Phil Ochs's sister Sonny was there and was able to shed more light on the fascinating and tragic figure of her brother.

Thanks for all who helped make this a great evening!

Friday, 10 June 2011

A Struggle to Remember: Fighting for Our Families

The Workers' History Museum is currently working on a documentary and exhibition, focused on the establishment of paid Maternity Leave and Family Leave in Canada.

Maternity leave and family leave are something that we may take for granted at present, so it is difficult to believe that 30 years ago it didn't exist. The documentary and exhibition explore the struggle surrounding the establishment of paid maternity and family leave in Canada, and some of the challenges that still exist today.

To learn more about the documentary, please go to

To learn more about the exhibit, please email us at

The Canadian Workers Hall of Fame

The Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton, Ontario, has announced the launch of an on-line website honouring exceptional people from the struggle for workers' rights and social justice in Canada.

The Canadian Workers Hall of Fame will honour people from any part of the country who are 65 or older, alive or deceased, and who have made exceptional lifetime contributions to the betterment of working-class life. Their contribution can be from union work, social movements, politics, and other activism. The inductees will be determined by a panel of labour activists and academics who will review nominations and recommend who is to be included.

If you have someone to suggest, please go to the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre website and fill out the online nomination form.

What This Blog Is All About

We, at the Workers’ History Museum, are dedicated to the development and preservation of workers’ history and heritage. Our goal is to present, promote, interpret and preserve working class history, heritage and culture with a special emphasis on Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley. We try to do this through exhibits, educational programs, workshops, walking tours, oral history documentaries, and any other means that allow us to communicate the history of working people the public.

This blog has been set up is to allow us to communicate and interact with people interested in working class history, to tell you about what we have been up to, and to hear your feedback. You can talk to us by commenting on the posts, or emailing us at

We hope to hear from you soon!