Category: Events

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.

Announcing the 2014 Annual General Meeting

All members of the Workers’ History Museum are invited to the 2014 AGM, to be held on March 10th at 7pm (Institutional Members Caucus at 6pm). The PSAC is allowing us the use of their boardroom at 233 Gilmour Street.

According to the WHM’s by-laws:

• The Annual General Membership Meeting (AGM) will be the supreme governing body of the WHM.
• All individual members in good standing will have the right to voice and vote at the AGM.
• All institutional members in good standing will have the right to send up to two delegates with voice and vote to the AGM.


At the AGM, elections will be held for the positions of: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, 6 Board members at Large, 4 Institutional Board members and 3 Trustees.

Only members in good standing are eligible to run for these positions. Nominations will be held during the AGM.

Elections for Institutional members will be held, according to the provisions of the by-laws, during the Institutional members’ caucus.

Members who wish to run for one of these positions, but are unable to attend the AGM in person, may signify their intention in writing.


At the AGM any member in good standing may present a general resolution for consideration by the membership. No advance notice is required for general resolutions, but advance notice in writing is required for amendments to the by-laws..

By-law amendments

Any WHM member who wishes to propose an amendment to the Workers’ History Museum by-laws must submit the proposal in writing, with the name of the mover and seconder, to the WHM Secretary by February 22, 2014 at the latest. This may be done by mail, or by email to No change to the by-laws will be accepted at the AGM if advance notice has not been given in writing.

If you’re not yet a member of the Workers’ History Museum, but would like to have a voice at the AGM, now is the time to join! We rely on our members not just to fund our activities but also to shape the direction of the WHM. Membership forms are available at

We hope to see you there!

New Exhibit Uncovers Britannia’s Working Class History

The Workers’ History Museum is unveiling its permanent exhibit, “Britannia: The People’s Playground,” as part of the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre’s 21st Annual Winter Garden Party.

When: 11:30-2:00 p.m., Sunday, February 23, 2014
Where: Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre, 102 Greenview Avenue, Ottawa
Admission: Free

“Britannia: The People’s Playground” looks at the history of this Ottawa landmark from a workers’ perspective. “In the early 20th century, Britannia Park was one of Ottawa’s greatest attractions, likened to New York’s iconic Coney Island,” explains Sanna Guérin, lead on this project and chair of the WHM’s Exhibits Committee. “For working class families living in congested urban neighbourhoods, the 5-cent fare on the Ottawa Electric Railway offered an escape to the country. It’s interesting stories like these that we strive to preserve and share as a museum.”

Visitors to the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre will be able to view this permanent bilingual exhibit year-round. “We have developed travelling exhibits before, but this is our first permanent exhibit,” says WHM President Bob Hatfield. “We are proud to partner with the City of Ottawa and be part of the Winter Garden Party for the second year.”

WHM representatives will be at the community booth throughout the Winter Garden Party event with more information about Britannia Park and about Ottawa’s working class history. There will also be horse-drawn sleigh rides, carnival games, hot dogs, maple-syrup taffy and much more. Winter fun both indoors and out for all ages is promised, rain, snow, or shine!

By Cydney Foote


A Winning Bid: Cal Best and the Black History Month Series 2014

12 09 28 Then and Now ConceptSeveral people have asked us about winning the grant to be a part of BAND/TD Then & Now’s Black History Month Series 2014. WHM Treasurer Barb Stewart explains how it came to pass:

“Last July, I noticed an item in the Council of Heritage Organizations in Ottawa (CHOO | COPO) newsletter about the TD Then and Now Black History Month series. They mentioned they were taking applications for projects. At that time, we had been working for six months on a project about Cal Best, a cofounder of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) who went on to become Canada’s first black High Commissioner. We decided to apply and were juried in to the final selection.

We were successful and received funding to help us take this project beyond Ottawa. Events will be held during Black History Month in Halifax, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver during February with one in March in Montreal.

Without the announcement in the newsletter we would not have known about this funding source or been able to bring Cal Best’s story to a wider audience.”

Our event in Ottawa starts at 7 p.m. on February 25th at the Ottawa Public Library, featuring a screening of the documentary and a panel discussion with Stephen Best (Cal Best’s son), the filmmakers, and representatives of Ottawa’s Black community. The evening will be hosted by CBC Anchorman Adrian Harewood. This event is jointly hosted by the Ottawa Public Library, BAND, TD Then & Now, the Douglas Coldwell Foundation, and the Workers’ History Museum.

Cal Best Project on Cross-Canada Tour

February is Black History Month, and we’re taking “The Cal Best Project” on the road. See our latest exhibit and documentary Simply the Best at a location near you! All events are free and include panel discussions with Mr. Best’s contemporaries and those he affected.

Thursday, February 6 at 7 pm
Halifax North Memorial Library
2285 Gottingen Street, Halifax

Tuesday, February 11 at 12 noon
Auditorium, Vancouver Community College
Broadway Campus, 1155 East Broadway, Vancouver

Wednesday, February 12 at 7 pm
Vancouver Public Library, Alice MacKay Room
300 West Georgia Street, Vancouver

Tuesday, February 18 at 6 pm
The Central Library
616 Macleod Trail SE, Calgary

Tuesday, February 25 at 7 pm
Auditorium, Ottawa Public Library, Main Branch
120 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa

Tuesday, March 11
Details TBD

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors for making this tour possible.

12 09 28 Then and Now Concept band-logo

Celebrating Black History Month 2014

The Workers’ History Museum is proud to announce that we’ve been chosen as part of the Black History Month Series 2014, sponsored by TD Then and Now and Black Artists’ Network in Dialogue (BAND). We will be showcasing the “Cal Best Project” as part of a full schedule of activities celebrating Black history and culture.

Thanks to the generous support of TD Then and Now and BAND, we can share our exhibit on Cal Best’s life and legacy, including the documentary Simply the Best, in venues across Canada. Events in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver will bring the life and legacy of this remarkable public figure to life.

Here in Ottawa, you can see Simply the Best on Tuesday, February 25th at 7:00 PM at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library. It will be accompanied by an interpretive display and panel discussion; Adrian Harewood of CBC Ottawa is the MC for the evening. Admission is free.

Arthur Carkner, producer of the Cal Best Project, says, “Black History Month is about the history we share in this country, and I am proud to help bring attention to this great man who lived and raised his family right in our neighbourhood. I hope you come out and see this documentary in Best’s longtime home town.”

12 09 28 Then and Now Concept

Announcing the J. Calbert Best Boardroom

The Workers’ History Museum is thrilled to hear that the Public Service Alliance of Canada is naming their Halifax Regional Office Boardroom after Cal Best! The organizers credit our work for sparking renewed interest in this co-founder of their union, and ultimately leading to this decision. Our video Simply the Best and its accompanying travelling display will be shown at the official opening. We are a virtual museum with real world outcomes!


December 6th – National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

December 6th is 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 women at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal. They died because they were women.

December 6, 2013, marks the 24th anniversary of the Montréal Massacre. As well as commemorating the 14 young women whose lives ended in an act of gender-based violence that shocked the nation, this day represents an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the phenomenon of violence against women in our society. It is also an opportunity to consider the women and girls for whom violence is a daily reality, and to remember those who have died as a result of gender-based violence. And finally, it is a day on which communities can consider concrete actions to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

Violence against women and girls remains a serious problem in Canada, from overt acts of hatred such as the Montréal Massacre to culturally based offences and everyday acts of coercion such as sexual harassment and domestic abuse.

Women and girls are more likely to experience certain types of serious violence and assault:
• On average, 178 females were killed every year between 1994 and 2008.
• In 2008, there were 146 female victims of homicide in Canada. Of these, 45 were victims of spousal homicide.
• Young women are particularly vulnerable. Between 1997 and 2006, young women (aged 15 to 24) were killed at a rate nearly three times higher than for all female victims of spousal homicide. During the same period, the rate of sexual assault for girls (under age 18) by family members was four times higher than for boys.

Some groups of women in Canada are particularly vulnerable to violence:
• The spousal homicide rate for Aboriginal women is more than eight times that for non-Aboriginal women.
• Immigrant women may be more vulnerable to family violence due to, among other things, economic dependence, language barriers, and lack of access to resources.
• Senior women are twice as likely as senior men to be victims of violent crime perpetrated by a family member.

Reprinted from the Status of Women Canada