Category: Events

Workers’ History Museum Movie Night at PSAC (Ottawa)!

The Workers’ History Museum is proud to host a viewing of its historiographical film about the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The film presents the fifty-year story that began when leaders from many different, often competing associations came together to formally establish a union for federal government workers.

Date: March 15, 2017

When: 12pm, 2:30pm, and 7pm

Where: 233 Gilmour Street, Ottawa (J.K. Wiley Boardroom)

Cost: Free!

Fifty years ago, the leaders of many different, often competing, associations came together at a convention to formally establish a union for federal government workers. This represented the culmination of years of struggle to achieve what other workers outside the federal public sector had enjoyed for decades. It was the first step to bringing about real change in our members’ workplaces. It helped families and built communities.

In 50 years, our membership has grown to include public sector workers in the north, university teaching and Research Assistants, workers in Indigenous communities and more. From the beginning, PSAC recognized the need to reach out to the broader labour movement, working in Canada and internationally to build solidarity with the struggles of working people around the world. As we celebrate our first 50 years, the work of building our union goes on.

Colonel By Day with The Workers’ History Museum

On August 1st the Workers’ History Museum made its mark on Colonel By day with two tables full of activities, information and smiling volunteers. This year marked the 21st annual Colonel By Day and this year the event celebrated the workers who laboured to build the Canal, their families and their lives-lived and lost. How appropriate then that the Workers’ History Museum was there overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage site Rideau Canal locks to interact with those that attended. The weather cooperated and a beautiful day made it easy for the volunteers to have a fantastic time speaking with tourists from as far as England and as close as Centretown! We were able to speak with over a hundred and twenty enthusiastic people and to build awareness of the museum and the great things we do. To pique peoples interests we had activities at the tables which included an always popular typewriter, a set of hammers and mallets and a colouring and painting station. All around us were interesting heritage displays and events, such as Bagpipe music and Irish dancing and costumed characters including the ever entertaining Mother McGuinty. This was a day not to miss and we are already looking toward next year so mark your calendars for August 6th 2017 and come join us by the locks! Check out the great video below to get an even better sense of the beautiful heritage filled day!


The Great Wildfire of 1870: A history told by Ruth Stewart-Verger and Murray McGregor

Until Fort McMurray in the spring of 2016, the Ontario fire of 1870 was the largest wild-fire in Canadian history.

It is startling how similar the descriptions of the skies, the golden glow across the horizon at midnight, the strangling smoke, the wall of fire sweeping across the land, people racing before the flames…

The Great Wildfire of 1870 started in the Ottawa Valley, as a small blaze near Arnprior and a brush fire near Pakenham raced across eastern Ontario. The wildfire swept past the Carp ridge, through the Almonte Area, devastating Bells Corners, and on to Ottawa. Smoke filled the skies. Farmers, villages and animals, wild and domestic raced before the oncoming flames. Farmlands, lives and habitats were lost. The fire was stopped at Preston Street by brave fire-fighters who, with the help of pick and shovel, breached the north dam of Dow’s Lake, flooding the old Dow’s swamp lowlands right down Preston on to LeBreton flats — just in the nick of time, of course.

Where: the Chambers at Ben Franklin Place
When: Saturday, September 17, at 2:00PM

Storytellers are Ruth Stewart-Verger and Murray McGregor.

Doors Open Ottawa event at the PSAC

Want to visit one of Canada’s top 500 buildings?

Saturday, 4 and Sunday 5 June, 2016, the Workers’ History Museum (WHM) is hosting a Doors Open Ottawa event at the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) national headquarters, 233 Gilmour Street, Ottawa. Doors are open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The 12 storey PSAC HQ is a distinctive elliptical iron-spot brick building at the corner of Gilmour and Metcalfe. Designed by Paul Schoeler of Schoeler & Heaton Architects, it was completed in 1968. In 2000, the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada | Architecture Canada identified it as one of the top 500 buildings produced in Canada during the preceding millennium.

WHM volunteers will answer questions about the PSAC building and about Workers’ History Museum exhibits which will be on display there.

Renovations are underway, so please enter the building by the rear entrance.

Janes Walk 2015

The Workers’ History Museum will once again be sponsoring a labour history walk as part of Jane’s Walk, 2015.

Participants will meet at 10:00amon Saturday, 2ndMay, 2015 at the Oscar Peterson statue, outside the National Arts Centre. WHM Walk leader Bob Hatfield will take participants along the Rideau Canal and up behind Parliament.

The tour covers the history of labour in Ottawa, from pre-Contact all the way through to modern times. Highlights include the lumber trade, LeBreton Flats, the building of the Rideau Canal, and the construction of the Parliament Buildings. The one and a half hour tour weaves personal and community stories into the broader narrative of Ottawa’s changing character.


CLiFF v.6 Next Friday!

When: Friday, November 28th, 7 – 9 p.m.
Where: 233 Gilmour Street (PSAC Headquarters)
Cost: Free!

WHM is proud to once again host the Canadian Labour International Film Festival in Ottawa. The films in this festival tell the stories of workers from four continents and many more countries. Their voices are not often told, so we are excited to share them with you on November 28th.

This year’s line-up includes:

Joe Hill’s Secret Canadian Hideout (Canada)

Judith: Portrait of a Street Vendor (USA)

Luminaris (Argentina)

Qatar World Cup (UK)

Welcome to Dresden: Jim Crow Lived Here Too (Canada)

Working People: A History of Labour in British Columbia (Part 2 of a 3-part series) (Canada)

Please join us for a night of entertainment, enlightenment, and free popcorn. What more could you ask for?

The Canadian Labour International Film Festival 2014

When: Friday, November 28th, 7 – 9 p.m.
Where: 233 Gilmour Street (PSAC Headquarters)

The Workers’ History Museum is proud to host Ottawa’s Canadian Labour International Film Festival. This successful festival, now in its sixth year nationwide, has brought independent films about working people to cities throughout Canada.

Please join us on November 28th for Ottawa’s 2nd annual CLiFF. The festival takes place at 233 Gilmour Street. It is a free event. Please contact to reserve tickets.

Thanks to our generous sponsors for their support of this event.

Mark Your Calendars – October 16th!

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Workers’ History Museum is presenting an evening of story and songs about the Match Girls / Les allumettières. Les allumettières engaged in the earliest strikes by women in Quebec in 1919 and 1924, protesting against meagre pay and horrible working conditions while making matches for E. B. Eddy.

The WHM is pleased to announce that one of our favourite storytellers, Ruth Stewart-Verger, will be on hand to tell the story of Les allumettières and one of the first Quebec women strike leaders, Donalda Charron. Ruth’s tellings have been featured at various events related to the Museum, including this one in which she and Donna Stewart told the story of the Almonte Train Wreck on 1942.

Ruth will be joined on stage by Maura Volante, who sings songs about work and workers. Maura is well-known for her wonderful renditions of traditional songs and will be accompanied by Marie Deziel. Here is a clip of Maura performing at the Log Drive Cafè.

The story will be told in English and the songs will be in both English and French. The event will take place at 25One Community (251 Bank St., Second Floor); doors open at 7pm. This is a fundraising event sponsored by the WHM – admission is $15. Cash bar.

Trivia Night March 29, 2014!


Do you and your friends know lots of interesting bits of information and trivia? Come on out for a night of fun and fundraising for the Workers’ History Museum!

Date: March 29, 2014
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: The Glen Scottish Restaurant & Pub, 1010 Stittsville Main Street
Cost: $10 per person

Find out how much (or how little!) you really know while having some fun and lots of laughter. Come early for dinner and enjoy some of the best fish and chips in the area!

For tickets or more information, call Barb at 613-837-8743 or email

Britannia Unveiled

Sunday, 23 February will go down in Canadian history as the day the Canadian men won Olympic hockey gold in Sochi. It will go down in the Workers’ History Museum’s history as the day we won our first gold medal: our first permanent exhibit!

britannia“Britannia: The People’s Playground” is a wall-sized exhibit on the history of Britannia Park. Created by Ottawa entrepreneurs Ahearn and Soper to encourage the use of their streetcars at off-peak hours and weekends, Britannia soon became the spot for working and middle class people from all over the region to attend dances, concerts, and shows. Children learned to swim at the beach and families picnicked in the grounds or enjoyed the funfair.

The WHM’s permanent bilingual exhibit was unveiled by Bay Ward Councillor Mark Taylor and WHM President Bob Hatfield at the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre in Ottawa’s West End. “We have developed travelling exhibits before, but this is our first permanent exhibit,” said WHM President Bob Hatfield. “It is an important milestone for the Workers’ History Museum.”

“Britannia: The People’s Playground” was created by WHM volunteers. Ken Clavette was the inspiration for this exhibit; he did the original research, set up the project and completed much of the early work. Sanna Guérin led the project, Christine Goneau and Emélie Perron-Clow conducted additional research, and academic support came from Bruce Elliott, John Taylor, and David Dean. Text was edited by Cydney Foote and Bob Hatfield and translated by Valérie Lalonde. The exhibit was designed and installed by André Mersereau of Chapter One Studio.

Judy McDonald from the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre worked hard to bring this project to completion, with financial support from the City of Ottawa. It has proven to be yet another fruitful partnership between the City of Ottawa and the Workers’ History Museum.

The WHM also has a Britannia travelling exhibit that groups may borrow for display at meetings and conferences. Contact the museum for more information.