The story of the ON-To-Ottawa Trek

During the Great Depression, the Canadian Government established the Unemployment Relief Scheme. It was a nationwide system of camps for single, unemployed men. The beneficiaries of the program worked on road construction and other physically demanding projects, in exchange for room and board and 20 cents a day.

In 1935, about 1,500 men from various British Columbia camps went on strike in demand for better working conditions. After a few weeks of protests, and encouraged by many expressions of support from the community, they decided to go to Ottawa to lay their demands before the Prime Minister. It was the beginning of the On-To-Ottawa Trek, a journey that has been a source of inspiration to the workers’ movement in Canada for more than eight decades.