Jack Atkinson was born in North Umberland, England in 1905. His family moved to Nanaimo in 1909 seeking economic security. His father was a miner and trade unionist, working at various mines, moving the family as the job required. In 1924, Jack Atkinson began working as a track layer for Granby Consolidated mine, but was fired shortly after for openly criticizing the company’s reduction in workers’ wages. He worked at several mines before eventually returning to Granby in 1927. In 1936, he got a job as a mechanic’s helper in the blacksmith shop of Comox Logging in Ladysmith. He became Business Agent and organizer for Local I-80 of the International Woodworkers of America (IWA) in the Ladysmith sub-local in 1947. In 1950 he became a longshorean and in 1953 a first-aid man for Empire Stevedoring. He retired in 1970 and focussed on his passion for the arts. He and his wife, Alice, continued their activities with the Ladysmith Little Theatre they helped found in 1956.