VIVO Media Arts Centre Archive > WLHP Video Oral Histories

WLHP Video Oral Histories

The Women’s Labour History Project videotaped oral histories build on audio-only interviews conducted by Diamond in the late 1970’s. These video interviews, recorded between the mid 1980’s to 1990, document the experiences of working class women from the 1920’s through the 1950’s, and in some cases, beyond. The interviewees talk about their lives as children, working women, housewives, and trade unionists. Their personal biographies span many countries and provinces, however, the focus of the interviews is on their activities in British Columbia from the Great Depression to the immediate post-war period.

Segments of these interviews were incorporated into Diamond’s 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.

LINK TO INTERVIEWS

Mrs. Atwal, Mrs. Maan, Mrs. Johal, Mrs. Gill
Immigrant experience; lives of Indo-Canadian women in  1940’sLake Cowichan  ; women’s contributions to the union; arranged marriages; forest industry safety; budgeting working class wages; benefits of trade unionism.

Nancy Buker
Immigrating from Scotland to Saskatchewan; working at the Vancouver shipyards and Burrard Dry Dock; being shop steward with the steamfitters and plumbers union; Humphrey Creek logging camp.

Ruth Bullock
Early life on Salt Spring Island; domestic work; the Great Depression; injustices faced by women and girls; reproductive rights; the CCF; canning industry; assembly line work; union factionalization; women’s auxiliaries.

Marge Dalskog
Life in BC logging camps; injury and death on the job; unionizing the forestry industry; IWA Ladies‘ Auxiliary; chauvinism at work and home; single motherhood; how the Auxiliary benefited the union and women.

Elizabeth Fordham
Immigration experience; clothes pressing; Great Depression; women’s labour movement; 1930’s pacifism; On To Ottawa Trek; 1934 West Coast waterfront strike; reproduction rights; summer camp for worker’s children.

Lil Godfrey
Logging at Lake Cowichan; domestic challenges; IWA Women’s Auxiliary; 1946 strike; Gordon’s general store; Indo-Canadian community in the Cowichan area; trade unionists labelled communists.

Betty Griffin
Boeing factory work in WWII; Mayday Parade; Powell Street grounds demonstration; equal pay; Worker’s Educational Association; Miss Production contest; the war effort and Fascism.

Gladys Hilland
Saskatchewan homesteading; farmer unionization 1930’s; Farmer’s Unity League; Sitka Spruce sawmill; women leaving industry post-WWII; 1946 strike; McCarthyism; International Woodworkers of America; No Strike Pledge.

May Martin
Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union; bartenders; role of business agent; The Night Order; workplace harassment; 1946 Milwaukee Convention; expulsion from the union; opposition to the International.

Mona Morgan
Safety for housekeepers; BC Plywood office work; IWA; living conditions for loggers’ wives; wood industry racism; executive of Local 107; Women’s Auxiliaries; On to Ottawa trek; activism amongst housewives.

Emily Nuttall
Waitressing in 1930’s Winnipeg; sexual harassment; union organizing; hotel and restaurant workers unions; hostility to feminism; purging “Reds” within trade unions (Vancouver); 1946 Milwaukee Convention.

June Olson
History of Lake Cowichan mill town; growing up in a logging family; forestry industry conditions during the Great Depression and war years; forestry industry safety issues; IWA Women’s Auxiliary.

Alice Person
Arrival in BC; family living on welfare; working conditions and segregation on hop farms; domestic work; women’s rights; changes in employment with the outbreak of WWII.

Jonnie Rankin
Vancouver during the Great Depression; WWII shipyard work; status of women in the Boilermakers Union; child care; equal pay; restaurant work; Labour Theatre Guild; Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union.

Jean Scott
Prairie life; domestic work; country hospital work; WWII; domestic abuse; Canadian Air Force; CCF; Political Action Committee; Canadian Congress of Labour; International Woodworkers Association; the International.

Irene Seed
Youbou, BC; 1930s; nursing; life with a child in rural Vancouver Island; racial segregation in the forestry industry; Women’s Auxiliary; mill safety; Youbou loggers; widow’s pension.

Jean Shiels
Relief in the 1930’s; Women’s Unity League; the single unemployed; On to Ottawa trek; Mother’s Council; peace movement; League Against the War on Fascism; support for Spain in the 1930’s; Young Pioneers.

Marjorie Storm
Fraser Mills; sexual harassment; National Selective Service; Pacific Veneer, Canadian Forest Products;  equa pay and access; New Democratic Party; domestic challenges; IWA Women’s Auxiliary; 1970’s women’s movement.

Eileen Sufrin
WWII attitudes towards unions; Cooperative Commonwealth Federation; moving from Ontario to BC; labour movement factionalization; unions and women’s issues; white collar unionism; organizing Eatons.

Masue Tagashira
Village life in 1920s Japan; immigration experience; logging camp at Stave Lake; domestic work; language challenges for immigrant women; exploitation of women’s labour; Vancouver’s “Japantown”.

Lil Godfrey & June Olson
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.

Credits

Karen Knights
Archive Manager
Project Manager

Sophie Roberge
Archivist

Clark Henderson
Digitization Tech

Acknowledgements

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