Category: Events

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

Hands On: The WHM Artifacts Workshop

On Saturday, November 30, the Workers’ History Museum welcomed Masters’ students associated with the Carleton Centre for Public History (CCPH) to our new storage unit for an artifacts workshop. Students were able to handle and assess objects that we are currently considering for accessioning (the formal, legal process that the WHM goes through whenever we accept an object into our collection). Objects included cobbler’s tools, office equipment such as a comptometer, and union apparel. The completed documentation will be used by the Artifacts Acquisition Working Group, part of the Exhibits and Education Committee, to help the WHM formally accession its first artifacts in the new year.

Students also had an opportunity to practice oral history skills by interviewing two of the object donors. This information will help the WHM determine whether the artifacts meet our mandate and can serve a purpose within the collection. The museum will have three kinds of artifact collections: objects for display, objects for reference, and objects for education, such as with schools and public programming.

This was the second workshop that partnered the WHM with the CCPH, and instruction was provided by Lindsay Harasymchuk, who heads the working committee, as well as by Sanna Guérin, chair of the Exhibits and Education Committee.

The WHM thanks the students for attending the workshop and assisting in this very important work. As well, the WHM gratefully thanks the CCPH for its continued support.

By Sanna Guérin

Adrian Harewood to host Cal Best launch

Adrian Harewood, News Anchor at CBC News Ottawa, will join the Workers’ History Museum for a celebration of the life and legacy of Cal Best. Mr. Harewood will be our Master of Ceremonies at the Ottawa launch of the WHM’s exciting new project – including the premiere of our film Simply the Best – during Black History Month next year.

“The Cal Best Project” – created with the generous support of the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists – highlights an important but too often overlooked part of Black history: the activism required to change society for the better. From his early days as a reporter covering the controversial Viola Desmond case to his tenure as Canada’s first Black High Commissioner, Best’s efforts are brought to life through interviews, archival footage, and contemporary news accounts. A special focus on Best’s commitment to a more inclusive public service examines his efforts as co-founder and president of the Civil Service Association of Canada (the precursor to today’s Public Service Alliance of Canada) and highlights the debt that thousands of Canadian public servants owe him even today.

Stay tuned for more details about this exciting event, coming in February 2014!

The Canadian Labour International Film Festival 2013

When: 7pm, November 29th
Where: 233 Gilmour Street (PSAC Headquarters)
Cost: Free!

The Workers’ History Museum is proud to host Ottawa’s Canadian Labour International Film Festival. This successful festival, now in its fifth year, has brought independent films about working people to cities throughout Canada. This year, we’re bringing these stories home to Ottawa!

Please join us on November 29th for the Ottawa CLiFF, featuring the following films:

Ann Kore Moun – Solidarite se chimen devlopman
2012 • 35 Minutes • Haitian Créole (English subtitles)
Directed by André Vanasse
What are unions for? Haitian union leaders explain the role of unions and why civil society is necessary for a country to develop itself. The documentary shows unions in action, in different sectors of society like the peasantry, schools, hospitals, transportation, municipal services, garment factories In Haiti’s free zones. Social protection, public services and the necessity of the rule of law are also discussed.

Union Style
2013 • 3 Minutes • English
Directed by Corinne Baumgarten
This is a light educational video about the importance of unions in general, their history and the current state of unions in Canada. It is a parody of Gangnam Style.

Tough to Swallow: Meals that Sparked a Seniors Revolt
2012 • 14 Minutes • English
Directed by Carla Bridgewater
In 2010, Alberta Health Services began shutting down full-service kitchens in all facilities with fewer than 125 beds and replacing them with so-called “heat and serve” equipment, where pre-cooked food was trucked in, reheated and served to patients and residents. The new food was described as ‘terrible,’ ‘inedible,’ and memorably, ‘dog food,’ but AHS just wasn’t listening to residents or their families. This film takes you under cover with John Gilchrist, noted food expert, author and critic, to expose the truth about the 21-day menu. Following production of this film and the subsequent coverage in conventional media, the Alberta Legislature ordered Alberta Health Services to reverse this policy.

A Struggle to Remember: Fighting for our Families
2012 • 20 Minutes • English (English and French subtitles)
Directed by Aaron Floresco
This film explores how Canadian feminists, unionists and political activists built a potent coalition, mobilized public opinion and achieved vast improvements in maternity leave and other family leave benefits.

We’ll also treat you to a sneak preview of the WHM’s latest documentary, Simply the Best.

The festival takes place at 233 Gilmour Street. Doors open at 7pm; the films begin at 7:30pm. It is a free event. Please contact to reserve tickets.

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

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PSAC logo NCR english-full


Mark Your Calendars: Family Leave & Multiple Birth Parents Event, November 7th

4.1981 Red Rose Review demo, Ottawa supporting CUPW maternit

The Workers’ History Museum invites you to a screening of our video A Struggle to Remember: Fighting for Our Families, followed by a panel discussion with MP Sana Hassainia, Christian Martin (parent of twins), representing Multiple Births Canada, and filmmakers from the Workers’ History Museum. Kimberley Weatherall, Executive Director of Multiple Births Canada, will also be presenting an award to Ms. Hassainia this evening.

This bilingual event will be held in the auditorium of the Ottawa Public Library (Main Branch, 120 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa) on Thursday, November 7th at 7pm. It is a free event.

For more information, please contact

Wednesday is Ask A Curator Day

Curious what it takes to create a working-class history museum in Ottawa? This is your opportunity to find out. On Wednesday, September 18, the Workers’ History Museum joins hundreds of museums around the world for “Ask a Curator Day” on Twitter.

To participate, just tweet your question with the #AskaCurator hashtag – and if you want to address your question directly to us, make sure you include @workershistory in the tweet. The chair of our Exhibitions and Education Committee, Sanna Guérin, will take over the WHM’s Twitter account for the day to answer your questions.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Celebrate Colonel By Day with the Workers’ History Museum

The Workers’ History Museum will be at the Rideau Canal Locks for Colonel By Day (Monday, August 5th). Join us for a day of fun-filled family activities as we celebrate Ottawa’s past.

• See our brand new exhibit about Britannia-on-the-Bay.
• Try out a 1960s-style typewriter from the now-demolished Percy Street Public School.
• Share your impressions of workers past and present by adding a drawing to our collage.

We’ll be on the grounds of the Bytown Museum from 11am to 4pm. Hope to see you there!

May 8th: History of the lumber and forestry industry in the Ottawa Valley

We have a new office and to celebrate, the Workers” History Museum along with guest speaker Michel Martin will be holding a free reception followed by a lecture on the Ottawa Valley Forestry Industry Workers in the 19th and Early 20th Century.

Join Us.
Date: May 8th 2013
Time: 6pm reception / 7 pm talk.
Admission: This is a free event open to the general public.
Location: Workers’ History Museum office. 251 Bank Street, 2nd Floor (corner of Bank St. and Cooper St.), Ottawa

About Michel Martin

Educated at Laurentian and Queen”s universities, Michel Martin is a retired freelance journalist and writer and a former federal public servant. He is the author of two books of local working class history, available free of charge at his website . He is currently working on a third book tentatively titled Resisting Domination:Popular Classes in the West Before 1492. Michel Martin has been active for years in union, community and party politics in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.