VIVO Media Arts Centre Archive > WLHP Oral Histories

Sara Diamond discusses the originating theory behind the W.L.H.P. and its examination of women’s experiences as domestic labourers and in the workforce.

Title: [The Women’s Labour History Project Presents]

Creator: Sara Diamond

Contributor: Diamond, Sara

Subject: Women–Employment–British Columbia ; Women labor union members–British Columbia ; Women–Employment–British Columbia–History–20th century

Date Created: April 1989

Type: Moving Image

Genre: Documentary

Extent: 1 3/4 inch videotape: U-matic

Format: video/mp4

Language: English

Identifier: SD_WLHP_513_02

Is Part Of: Sara Diamond fonds

Source: Original Format: The VIVO Media Arts Centre. Crista Dahl Media Library & Archives. Sara Diamond fonds.

Rights: Videos provided for research and reference use only. Permission to publish, copy or otherwise use these videos must be obtained from the Crista Dahl Media Library & Archives.

WLHP Oral Histories

The Women’s Labour History Project was created to document B.C. women’s experiences in the workforce, unions, and as housewives. Sara Diamond conducted audio interviews in 1979. In the mid-1980’s she expanded on her original audio interviews using video. Interviewees ranged from legendary union organizers to working-class women who faced severe hardship. Their personal biographies span many countries and provinces, however, the focus of the interviews is on their activities in British Columbia through the 1950’s.

Segments of these interviews were incorporated into Diamond’s experimental documentary works, Ten Dollars or Nothing, 29/92 and docudrama television series Keeping The Home Fires Burning (1988). Combining original Canadian wartime propaganda, interviews with working class women, original film footage, photographs, musical soundtracks and dramatization, Keeping the Home Fires Burning explored Canadian women’s working and domestic lives during and after World War Two.

How To Access the Interviews

You can link to individual interviews from the names below . Pages will include a bio, audio and/or video recordings. Most have full or edited transcriptions. In some cases photographs [P] and textual documents [T]. A brief summary of just a portion of the topics covered in each interview is next to the interviewees name.

Further Research

Additional material related to Sara Diamond, W.L.H.P., and the interviewees are available to researchers by appointment. Please contact our archivist at




Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union, domestic worker, Yugoslavian community and union consciousness.

The Boy’s Industrial School, organization of The Business Coalition for Gender Equality (BCGE), equal pay for equal work.

Attitudes of women in the area to the Ladysmith IWA Ladies Auxiliary.

One of first women  in the Vancouver Trades and Labour Congress; laundry and communications workers; WWII as matron.

From conductorette to bus driver; building the bus drivers’ union; solidarity among women drivers.

Okanagan fruit cannery worker; Oliver Fruit Co-op; work environment; building the Fruit and Vegetable Workers’ Union.

Lake Cowichan in the 1930’s; building the IWA; Lake Cowichan Ladies’ Auxiliary.

Domestic & agricultural work; communism ub unions; 1948 WIUC split; United Packinghouse Workers’ Union in Okanagan.

Staff for the Hotel & Restaurant Employees Union; conditions of work;  labour and political consciousness.

Immigrating to Saskatchewan; Burrard Dry Dock; steward, steamfitters & plumbers union; Humphrey Creek logging camp.

Domestic work; CCF activist; reproductive rights 1930’s; WWII cannery work; Trotskyists; clerical workers organizing.

Working as a B.C. liquor store clerk; B.C. Government Employees Union Local 503.

Fish cannery worker and organizer; UFAWU and Native Brotherhood membership; race conflicts; childcare issues.

Logging camps work and hazards; forestry industry unionization; IWA Ladies‘ Auxiliary; treatment of women in the camps.

Immigration from India; arranged marriage; North Van millwork; dairy industry at Mesachie Lake.

Birth control activist; Commonwealth Cooperative Federation membership.

Fruit cannery worker, shop steward; fruit cannery strike; union divisions; Packinghouse Workers vs Vegetable Workers.

Hotel Vancouver work;  Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Transport and General Workers ; 1950 solidarity strike.

Immigration experience; 1930’s pacifism; On To Ottawa Trek; 1934 waterfront strike; reproduction rights.

Steward in the shipyards in WWII; supervising women; strike during the war.

Changes in women’s government employment in WWII; supervising women; strike during the war.

IWA steward; first women in the woods in the Chemainus area; attitudes of male co-workers.

Lk Cowichan logging; Women’s Auxiliary; 1946 strike; Indo-Canadian community; trade unionists labelled communists.

Domestic, chambermaid & shirt machinist, England 1910’s; precision machinist at Boeing WWII; sole wage earner.

Mine/Mill Auxiliary; social functions and union building.

Children and auxiliary involvement; family background; Lake Cowichan Women’s Auxiliary of the IWA.

WWII Boeing factory; Powell Street grounds demonstration; Worker’s Educational Assn; anti-fascism effort.

Organized domestics, Trades and Labour Congress 1943; HREU member; Union Label Committee; B.C. Federation of Labour.

Telephone operator, 1920’s; women in the CCF.

Homestead; Farmer’s Unity League; Sitka Spruce sawmill; 1946 strike; McCarthyism; IWA; No Strike Pledge.

CCF, CPC membership, activism; organizing the unemployed; Housewives’ League;  1938 post office occupation.

One of the first female full-timers at Vancouver Post office; winning maternity leave; racism at work.

Boeing Aircraft during WWII; equal pay but not equal promotion.

Work at Canadian Forest Products; established equal pay in 1966.

Waitress, garment worker; Jantzen’s; The International Ladies; Garment Workers Union full time organizer 1946-1962.

HREU business agent; The Night Order; workplace harassment; 1946 Milwaukee Convention; opposition to the International.

Worked at St. Paul’s Hospital in laundry; changed company union into real union; CCF involvement.

Working for Boeing during WWII; working for B.C. Hydro in 1944; bus driver.

Waitress at Fraser, Melrose and Love’s Cafes, Garbo Restaurant; fought for stronger union shop; VDTLC member.

Led district council of IWA auxiliaries; CPC women’s organizing; On to Ottawa trek.

A history of Local 28 of the HREU and women’s participation in it; major issues of concern to women in restaurant work.

Waitressing 1930’s ; purging “Reds” from trade unions; HREU organizer, 1940’s;1946 Milwaukee Convention.

Lk Cowichan mill town history; forestry conditions 1930’s; IWA Women’s Auxiliary, joining at 16.

Supporter of the Longshoreman’s strike in 1935; worked with the International Woodworkers Association.

Retail work; Vancouver School Board employee; development of the Canadian Union of Public Employees ; NDP candidate.

Fruit farm Webster’s Corners; single mothers & relief; Hammond Cedar WWII; steward.

Description coming soon. Media is available.

Depression; WWII shipyard work; Marine Workers & Boilermakers Union; child care; equal pay; Labour Theatre Guild.

Domestic at age 13; Housewives’ League; organizing the Trocadero Cafe; Hospitality and Restaurant Employees Union.

Prairie life; domestic & hospital work; domestic abuse; CDN Air Force; Political Action Committee; Canadian Congress of Labour.

Nursing; racial segregation in woods; Women’s Auxiliary; mill safety; Youbou loggers; widow’s pension.

The struggle to keep and support children during the Depression.

Relief; Women’s Unity League; On to Ottawa trek; Mother’s Council; peace movement; League Against the War on Fascism.

Theatre Employees Union; 1955 fight to organize Bank of Montreal; OTEU;  organizing 1964 strike at Port Alberni pulp mill.

Finnish community women’s groups; worker at Berryland; involved in 1940’s organizing campaign; won end to piecework.

WWII shipyard work as shipwright’s helper; attitudes to women.

Domestic worker 1936; waitressing; business representative for the Vancouver District Labour Counsel.

Teacher,1920’s; elief in the 1930’s; the unemployed movement; Women’s Labour League.

Fraser Mills; sexual harassment; National Selective Service; Pacific Veneer, CDN Forest Prod; IWA Women’s Auxiliary 1970’s.

WWII attitudes towards unions; CCF; labour movement factionalization; organizing Eatons.

Village life 1920s Japan; immigration experience; Stave Lake logging camp; domestic labour exploitation; “Japantown”.

Worked in Steveston fish canneries during WWII, union organizer; The United Fishermen And Allied Workers’ Union.

Worked in the Artistocratic Restaurant;  organized for the  Hospitality and Restaurant Workers Union (HRWU).

Women’s right to jobs at the end of WWII; Prince Rupert shipyards, conditions for women, racism; Winnipeg General Strike.

Organizer for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU); worked at Boeing during WWII.

Worked for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation; organized the unemployed in the 1930’s.



Immigrant experience; lives of Indo-Canadian women in 1940’s Lake Cowichan; women’s contributions to the union; arranged marriages; forest industry safety; budgeting working class wages; benefits of trade unionism.




How their mothers supported them as children; seasonal employment; IWA Women’s Auxiliary and the 1946 strike; red baiting; forming a community co-op grocery and credit union; organizing between communities.

Conditions in Lake Cowichan for the loggers and their families; the formation of the Women’s Auxiliary; women’s main concerns about their husbands’ occupations.




Description coming soon. 

Description coming soon. 


VIVO thanks the BC. History Digitization Program, BC Arts Council Early Career Development Program and our private donors for their support.