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Capital History Kiosks

CapitalHistoryKiosks: Project Team (*) and Graduate Researchers:

Left to rightSamantha Osborn*, Ross Rheaume*, Chelsea Fahey*, Barb Stewart*, Sara Hollett, Stephanie Lett, Sarah Chelchowski, Kelsea McKenna, Lisa Bullock, David Dean*, Francesca Brzezicki, Meredith Comba, Rebecca Sykes, William Teal, Jen Halsall, Adam Mahoney, Denise Steeves, Andre Mersereau*

Seated: Emily Barsanti-Innes, Kelsey Bodechon, Phoebe Mannell, Pascale Couturier

Absent: Kelly Ferguson, Chris Goneau*, Dany Guay-Belanger, Kira Smith

Photo: Paul Harrison, Workers’ History Museum (April 5, 2017)

The Workers’ History Museum is pleased to announce the launch of the first of over a dozen Capital History Kiosks featuring little known and untold stories about Ottawa’s past. The kiosks consist of vinyl wraps around traffic control boxes featuring a striking image, lively text, and a QR code taking visitors to the Carleton Centre for Public History’s web-based storytelling site,

Stories for Capital History Kiosks were developed by graduate students taking Carleton Professor David Dean’s seminar Museums, Public Memory, and National Identity in winter 2017. The first kiosk, located at Bank And Exhibition Way at Lansdowne Park, tells the early history of lacrosse at Lansdowne and was researched by Lisa Bullock.

Capital History Kiosks is a project of the Workers’ History Museum partnering with the Carleton Centre for Public History, the design firm Chapter One Studio, and artist Ross Rheaume. It was made possible by Ottawa 2017, CIBC and the three Arts, Culture and Heritage Program Stewarding Partners AOE Arts Council, Ottawa Arts Council and Council of Heritage Organizations of Ottawa and was funded by a City of Ottawa 2017 Arts, Culture and Heritage Investment Programme Grant.

There will be more than a dozen kiosks appearing across the city in the coming weeks.

A new WHM walking tour

How did Americans, the military, and the railways influence the development of jobs in early Ottawa? Answers were provided Sunday, 7 May 2017, when the Workers’ History Museum sponsored a guided labour history walk. Participants started at the Bytown Museum, went north to the Ottawa River, south along the Rideau Canal, then up to Confederation Square as part of the Jane’s Walk weekend.

Tour guide Bob Hatfield explained: “This is a pilot of a WHM / Bytown Museum walk, which we will give from July to October of this year as part of Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations.” Bob developed the tour, with research from Kira Smith, Ken Clavette and Linda McLaren.

WHM President Arthur Carkner and Secretary Bob Allen, who will be leading some of the tours later this year, were marshals at Sunday’s walk.

“American immigrants were the first white residents here”

Photo credits: Bob Allen

“The bodies of workers killed building the Rideau Canal will be reinterred in September, 2017”

Photo credits: Bob Allen

What do you mean I need my husband’s signature? – October 30, 2015, 7 p.m.

Working together empowers communities.

In the second half of the 1970s Ottawa women came together to create an institution that would allow women to open bank accounts in their own names.

Working together empowered individuals.

This is the story of women who worked to create the Ottawa Women’s Credit Union and about the Antigonish movement that inspired them.

Storytellers: Ruth Stewart-Verger and Donna Stewart

Songs by Maura Volante

Cost: $15 with a cash bar

Location: 251 Bank Street, 2nd Floor

Les Allumettières – A Story by Ruth Stewart-Verger

The E. B. Eddy plant at Chaudière Falls has been at the centre of Ottawa’s industrial life for well over a century. The WHM naturally has a great interest in the plant and in the people who worked there over the generations. As has been noted in our blog, we have a team of photographers diligently documenting the site ahead of its planned redevelopment, and we are also working on an exhibit on the company’s activities. Of course, so much of the history comes through in stories and the Museum was fortunate enough to have Ruth Stewart-Verger give us one of these stories. Before a packed house, Ruth told the story of Donalda Charron, who led les allumettières on strikes in 1919 and 1924, protesting against meagre pay and horrible working conditions while making matches for E. B. Eddy. Here is a recording of that story, for your enjoyment. (Approx. 30 minutes) Les Allumettières – A Story by Ruth Stewart-Verger

Legal intern at the Workers’ History Museum

Jacob Saltiel will be working with the Workers’ History Museum on two important issues over a six week period.  Jacob is Human Rights / Social Justice Intern with Raven, Cameron,  Ballantyne & Yazbeck LLP.  The firm of labour lawyers has loaned Jacob to the museum to review WHM by-laws and do preparatory legal research for the Workers with Disabilities project.

Jacob holds a B.A. (with Distinction) from Concordia and an M.A. from Trent.  Currently he is studying law at the University of Ottawa.

Thank you to WHM Board member David Yazbeck for organizing this.
Legal Intern Jacob Saltiel (left) starts 6 weeks of work with the Workers’ History Museum at an orientation session conducted by WHM volunteers Bob Hatfield (centre) and Arthur Carkner (right).  25 May, 2015.

Trivia Night March 25

Some tickets still available

Call now

???Trivia Night ???

March 25, 2015 ‑ 7:30 p.m.


The Glen Scottish Pub and Restaurant

1010 Stittsville Main Street Stittsville ON


Tickets: $10

Get a team of 4 to 6 players, contact Barb at 613-837-8743 or

We have to let the restaurant know how many are coming so they can reserve the tables.

The Battle of 66th Street – How the Gainers Strike Rallied a Nation

In the summer of 1986, the Alberta oil boom had gone bust (it has before and will again). The bad economy was pitting workers against police as employers used the times to push for concessions and cuts. Workers in turn fought for their lives.

Picket lines were up at Suncor in Fort McMurray, at Zeidler Forest Products operations in Edmonton and Slave Lake, and at Red Deer’s Fletcher’s Fine Foods. But it was Edmonton’s 6-1/2 month walkout by 1,080 workers at Gainers (a meatpacking company) over a fight on wage rollbacks and pension protection that galvanized the Canadian public.

The union members walked out on June 1st. Supporters blocked the 66th Street gates, rocks and paint bombs were hurled, and bus windows smashed as convoys of scab workers were brought in by owner Peter Pocklington to keep Gainers running. At one point about one-third of the entire Edmonton police force (375 officers) were committed to the Gainers’ plant.

Gainers leaflet Ottawa Sep 19 1986The Alberta and Canadian labour movement rallied around the workers who made $12-an-hour in a dirty, dangerous industry against the wealthy, outspoken businessman who also owned the Edmonton Oilers hockey team.

Gainers quickly won injunctions restricting the number and location of protesters, but union supporters followed delivery trucks so they could pressure retailers to buy from competing firms. Then the boycott spread across the country. In one of many efforts, Ottawa supporters picked a hockey game in between the Oilers and the Montreal Canadians on Sept 19th. They were led by a human-size pig and a hotdog. The picket was one of many local actions to support the boycott.

“It was the most effective boycott I have ever witnessed. It spread right across the country,” said retired Alberta Federation of Labour President Dave Werlin.

The strike dragged on until a contract was reached in December, after meetings mediated by then-premier Don Getty. After the deal the Alberta government announced $61 million in loans and loan guarantees for Gainers to help build a packing plant in Picture Butte, a plant that was never constructed.

Mr. Pocklington, who was also known as the man that traded Wayne Gretzky and a one-time contender to lead the Conservatives, moved to the USA where he was convicted on felony charges having pled guilty in California to committing perjury during a bankruptcy proceeding.

Photo by Chuck Brabazon