Soviet Princeton

Soviet Princeton

The cops’ll have a hell of a time
The cops’ll have a hell of a time
Trying to break the picket line
      Princeton picket line song,
      December 1932.

The winter of 1932–33 saw Princeton divided. Charges of outside agitators and charges by mounted provincial police into picket lines of workers, Ku Klux Klan threats and a beating and cross–burning, the kidnapping of legendary labour organizer Slim Evans who was bundled onto the next train out of town (though he returned soon enough) ––– Princeton’s few thousand citizens saw much of the human drama of the Great Depression play out right in their own lives over the course of just a few months. Soviet Princeton_Blind Bill

A ten percent pay cut, in the depths of the Depression, galvanized the miners working Princeton’s coalmines into unionizing, and they brought in Arthur “Slim” Evans from the Workers Unity League to help them. Meanwhile, north of town, one of the federal government’s Relief Camps had opened up to build an airport, and soon Canadian Labour Defence League organizers were at work there. “Outside agitators” became the by-word as a few of the town’s merchants and its propertied establishment rallied around the cause ––– to defeat the “Communist menace” that threatened the prospects of their little town. They were given voice by the colourful local paper the Princeton Star, whose pages, held in the Princeton and District Museum & Archives, provide the source material for much of Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat’s engrossing history.

136 pages, 6×9 inches
ISBN: 9781554201099
$20 Cdn

Shortlisted for the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing
Shortlisted for the Haig-Brown Prize