On the Line: Stories of BC Workers

Episode 12: The Battle of Blubber Bay, BC, 1938

December 08, 2021 BC Labour Heritage Centre Season 1 Episode 12
On the Line: Stories of BC Workers
Episode 12: The Battle of Blubber Bay, BC, 1938
Show Notes

An epic confrontation just before WWII between mine workers fighting for justice and an arrogant company with authorities in their hip pocket. This is the story that has come to be known as The Battle of Blubber Bay.
Once a whaling station on Texada Island, Blubber Bay, British Columbia was home to an enormous open-pit limestone mine on the north end of the island. Starting just after the turn of the century, workers - many of them Chinese - had toiled away in the 250-ft deep pit. An obstinate mine manager and a wage cut motivated them to join the International Woodworkers of America (IWA). On June 2, 1938, two-thirds of the company's 156-strong workforce walked off the job as a last-ditch effort by the IWA to try and secure a foothold in BC. The battle that followed was legendary.

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.
"Blubber Bay Boogie" - Wesley Wheelwright, [Weeley Wright] from the record Songs of BC, 1958.
"IWA Marching Song" - Joe Glazer, Songs for Woodworkers, "Forty Years of Progress 1937-1977". 1977.

"Angel Tooth" - Zander, Blue Dot Sessions URL: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Blue_Dot_Sessions/Zander/Angel_Tooth

VOICEOVERS: "Rookie Police Officer" & "Vancouver Sun Reporter"  voiced by John Mabbott

Research and script for this episode by Patricia Wejr & Rod Mickleburgh.
Hak, Gordon Hugh, Capital and Labour in the British Columbia Forest Industry, 1934-74, (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2007)

Neufeld, Andrew and Andrew Parnaby, The IWA in Canada: The Life and Times of an Industrial Union, (Vancouver: New Star Books/IWA Canada, 2000)

Parnaby, Andy. “‘We’ll hang all policemen from a sour apple tree!’: Class, Law, and the Politics of State Power in the Blubber Bay Strike of 1938–39.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1995.

Parnaby, Andrew, “What’s Law Got to do With it? The IWA and the Politics of State Power in British Columbia, 1935-1939,” Labour/Le Travail, 44 (Fall 1999), 9-45.

Phillips, Paul A., No Power Greater: A Century of Labour in British Columbia, (Vancouver: BC Federation of Labour, 1967)

Russwurm, Lani. Blubber Bay Strike (1938 – 1939). BC Labour Heritage Centre Archives.

Stanton, John, Never Say Die!: The Life and Times of a Pioneer Labour Lawyer, (Vancouver: Steel Rail Publishing, 1987)

Wejr, Patricial and Howie Smith, Fighting for Labour: Four Decades of Work in British Columbia, 1910 – 1950 (Victoria, BC: Sound Heritage, 1978)