Review by Theresa Wolfwood
“This is the story of a heated confrontation that took place in Princeton during the depths of the Great Depression- a struggle over coal mine owners’ attempt to roll back miners’ wages…features mounted police charging picket lines; searches of workers’ homes for subversive literature, physical assaults; the creation of a Citizens’ League to oppose the miners; union; a kidnapping; crosses burning in hills above the town…”
This is a fascinating little-known vignette of Canadian history, the story of workers resisting repression in a small community in BC. The authors are musicians (who organize the Princeton Traditional Music Festival in August) and cultural historians who researched tor this book in the archives of the Princeton Museum. But before they delve into the local history they provide an excellent political and international context and an analysis of media coverage for the labour strife in Princeton.
Slim Evans was a n experienced labour organizer, a veteran of jail sentences, beatings and fierce labour battles when he was dispatched to Princeton by the Workers’ Unity League to organize miners who wanted their cut wages restored, That was September, 1932 and I workers began to organize and form a union. In December that year the miners were out on strike; the mine owners refused to negotiate with them. Workers were jailed, threatened and Evans was kidnapped by the local KKK.
This is an important record of collusion and collaboration of political and economic powers intent on breaking workers’ resistance. As the authors note in the conclusion the memory of this chapter of Princeton’s history is fading and disappearing. This book will keep the story alive.