While many iconic images capture the 1946 Stelco Strike, the stories of Brightside workers and their families who lived in its midst and participated in it also tell us much about how they responded this important moment in Canada’s labour struggle and history.
Listen: Out on Four Strikes. Click the play circle below.
When I was in there, I think we had four strikes.
58, 69, Donnie had three.
I started there in 1953. I retired in 1993.
And I think we had, I’m sure we had at least four strikes.
Donnie had three, he said.
The last one was in 90 and 91. Before I retired.
46 was the worst.
Listen: Getting Arrested. Click the play circle below.
We were on the picket line one time.
Nora Francis Henderson, eh, she tried to break the picket line at that time.
So, she had a car, and it had a no draft window, and she got through the line eventually you know.
The Union Stewart said no don’t touch nothing.
So, she got through.
As she got through, there was a pile of rocks thrown at her.
So, she went in.
And all of a sudden, the cops come there.
And we start running.
And I was pretty fast, an athlete.
So, they caught me and there was a building there at the end; so, they caught me there like this.
They were pulling that way. The union guys were pulling this way.
I said let me go. So anyway, they let me go. They took me down to the police station at Sherman Avenue.
And we’re sitting there me and, uh, who the heck, Gallo, me and Gallo.
And were talking and all of a sudden bump but a bump but a bump him bump, and I said what the hell’s going on here.
They walk right through, and the cops tried to stop them. They stopped them.
‘I want to see my son.’ I remember my mother was hollering. ‘Take my son out of there right now.’
And they all started hollering.
The cop said, ‘let’s let these kids go,’ because we were only young, eh.
So, we had to go to court. So, the judge in the court he was a nice guy.
And he had a table like this. And he had a rock on the table about as big as that.
And he says, ‘Ernest would you stand up?’
‘Do you see that rock on the table there?’
‘You play baseball.
You’re pretty good.’
I’m not bad.
‘How far can you throw ball?’
I said not too far.
‘Could you throw that through the no draft window on a car?’
I said no. I couldn’t even throw it 20 feet.
He knew for sure I’d dare not step out.
He said, ‘Ernest go home.’ Please.
Because they were trying to make something out of nothing.