On the Line: Stories of BC Workers

Episode 15: Smelter Wars

May 09, 2022 BC Labour Heritage Centre Season 1 Episode 15
On the Line: Stories of BC Workers
Episode 15: Smelter Wars
Show Notes

The workers at the lead-zinc smelter in Trail, British Columbia have a long history of overcoming formidable obstacles to unionization. Contentious politics, a company union and two World Wars are some of the issues discussed in this episode. 

 We talk to Ron Verzuh whose new book Smelter Wars: A Rebellious Red Trade Union Fights for its Life in Wartime Western Canada  (University of Toronto Press, 2022) has just been published. We also listen to archived interviews with two men who worked in the smelter in the early 1900s and remembered Ginger Goodwin who led a strike there in 1917.

Originally members of the Western Federation of Miners, who became the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, the workers at the Trail Smelter (Cominco) are now represented by United Steelworkers Local 480.

FEATURED MUSIC: Theme song: "Hold the Fort" - Arranged & Performed by Tom Hawken & his band, 1992. Part of the "On to Ottawa" film produced by Sara Diamond.
“Ode to the Union Smelterman” (1907), author unknown. Performed by Jeff Burrows.

 RESEARCH: Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh. Production by John Mabbott.

 Andrew Waldie interview, RECORDED: 1975-12-18 by Howie Smith. ©Royal BC Museum

Ed Provost interview, RECORDED: 1975-12-20 by Howie Smith. ©Royal BC Museum

Cominco History – Rossland Museum & Discovery Centre retrieved at https://www.rosslandmuseum.ca/cominco