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HIST 325 Lecture Notes - Winnipeg General Strike, Solidarity Action, War Profiteering

Course Code
HIST 325
Jonathan Newell

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Review: Pandemic: Spanish Flu in Canada, 1918-1919
o One of the deadliest natural disasters ever experienced in recorded history
o A third of the world’s population was infected
o Between summer 1918 and summer 1919, 50,000,000 to 100,000,000
worldwide died
o First discovered on front lines, WWI
o Troops spread the disease. Took a year to move around the world
o Spread via ships and railways (congregations)
Atypical influenza
o Epidemiology: 1st April-Aug; 2nd (more deadly) Sept 1918-Oct 1919,
peaked Oct-Nov 1918
In Canada
o Lots of volunteers which increased contact
o Specialists got called on first then caught disease and died or were in the
o Congregation couldn’t meet up or would catch disease
Known as “the Forgotten Pandemic”: Why?
o Everywhere Spanish flu faded from public awareness
o The “forgetting” lasted until the pandemics of bird flu, SARS, etc. in the
1990s and 2000s
o Why?
Outbreak was overshadowed by the deaths and media focus in the
closing year of WWI
Majority of fatalities, from both the war and the epidemic, were
among young adults, thus, the fatality lists merged in the public
Duration of the pandemic vs. that of the war
Lecture: Winnipeg General Strike 1919: Another International Phenomenon, 1919-1925
Returned veterans demonstrate against jailing of strike leaders
Internationally of strikes
o This was an era of uprisings and revolutions in Russia (Bolshevik
revolution 1917), Germany and Hungary
o One in 5 of all American wage workers struck in 1919
o In US, a general strike of over 300,000 steel workers (most notably
immigrants from southern and eastern Europe who had been largely
shunned by the official trade union movement); 400,000 coal miners
struck; 120,000 textile workers; 50,000 men’s clothing workers
In Canada
o Perhaps no other event during the first half of the 20th century shaped the
nature and character of the Canadian left more than the workers’ revolt
that gripped the country between 1917 and 1925
o During this period, the fundamental relationship between the state,
workers, and capital was challenged.
Winnipeg General Strike, 1919: What makes it a General Strike?
o General strike: whole city shut down; sympathy strike
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