When one thinks of Niagara’s history, the War of 1812 – and its accompanying battlefields and fortifications – immediately springs to mind.
But there’s so much more to Niagara region’s story. All that we see today has been created and maintained by a cadre of workers in a wide array of fields. And their stories need to be told, says Larry Savage, director of the Brock University Centre for Labour Studies.
“From factory workers in Welland to pulp and paper workers in Thorold, from hospitality workers in Niagara Falls to migrant farm workers in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Niagara has a rich and diverse labour history,” explains Savage.
Savage has teamed up with History Professor Tami Friedman to create the Twitter-based Niagara Labour History Project as a way of communicating and celebrating that history.
It’s a series of Tweets based on a chronological timetable of key events, actions, achievements, and breakthroughs in Niagara labour and working-class history. The 140-character Tweets correspond to the calendar day on which the event occurred in history. For example, on October 20, 2015, the Niagara Labour History project will tweet:
Oct 20, 1919: Charles Swayze is elected the 1st ever independent Labour MPP in Niagara Falls #NiagaraLabourHistory
A few sample Tweets from May – the month of International Workers’ Day – include:
May 1, 1986: Shirley Carr, a municipal worker from Niagara Falls,
becomes first woman President of @CanadianLabour #NiagaraLabourHistory
May 13, 1974: Workers @ Abitibi Prov. Paper in Thorold stage a wildcat
strike that closes plant for 4 days #NiagaraLabourHistory
May 30, 1998: Striking workers @StCatStandard release first issue of
The Independent, a worker-run alternate newspaper #NiagaraLabourHistory
The initiative, funded by the Brock University Social Justice Research Institute, “promises to raise the profile of the region’s rich labour and working-class history in an interactive way that involves the community,” says Savage.
“We hope this localized labour history initiative will make a unique, significant and lasting contribution to the Niagara community,” says Savage.
He and Friedman are contacting members of Niagara’s labour community to help generate content for the project. “We’d like union and labour activists to contribute to the project by sending us examples of historic achievements, key events and other milestones in the history of their organizations,” Savage added.
Contributors can send labour information, questions and comments to: <Labour.Studies@BrockU.ca>.
Brock University Centre for Labour Studies plans to launch the project on January 22, 2015. The Brock University Centre for Labour Studies twitter account @BrockCLS will host the tweets with the hashtag #NiagaraLabourHistory beginning later this month.