Bibliography of labour resources

Sources for Researchers

Julia Smith, Ph.D., has prepared this valuable bibliography to guide those interested in learning more about BC labour history.

Download a PDF version:    Bibliography of primary and secondary sources.


Below is a list of journals that publish research on BC labour and working-class history:

BC Studies

– interdisciplinary journal devoted to the understanding of British Columbia

 Histoire Sociale/Social History

– historical journal focused on social history in a range of time periods and locations

International Labour and Working-Class History (ILWCH)

– comparative and cross-disciplinary journal focused on labour and working-class history in an international context

 Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas

– historical journal focused on a variety of issues related to the history of work and working people the professions

Labor History

– historical journal that publishes research on labour in all parts of the world and in a variety of time periods

Labour/Le Travail

– interdisciplinary journal primarily focused on the history of Canadian workers

Left History

– historical journal interested in a range of theoretical approaches and topics pertaining to the left

Pacific Northwest Quarterly

– historical journal focused on the northwestern United States and western Canada


Books provide useful overviews of broad topics. They also contain bibliographies that list other sources.

 Canadian Labour History

Black, Errol and Jim Silver. Building a Better World: An Introduction to Trade Unionism in Canada. Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 2008.

Gonick, Cy, Paul Phillips, and Jesse Vorst, eds. Labour Gains, Labour Pains: Fifty Years of PC 1003, edited by Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 1995.

Heron, Craig. The Canadian Labour Movement: A Short History. 3rd ed. Toronto: Lorimer, 2010.

Morton, Desmond. Working People: An Illustrated History of the Canadian Labour Movement. 5th ed. Montréal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007.

Palmer, Bryan D. Working-Class Experience: Rethinking the History of Canadian Labour, 1800-1991. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1992.

Pentland, H. Clare. Labour and Capital in Canada, 1650–1860. Toronto: J. Lorimer, 1981.

Sangster, Joan. Transforming Labour: Women and Work in Post-war Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010.

BC Labour History

Brandak, Louise May George, Elaine Bernard, and Mark Thompson. A Guide to Labour Records and Resources in British Columbia. Vancouver: Special Collections Division, University of British Columbia, 1985.

Bennett, William.  Builders of British Columbia, by William Bennett, with a foreword by Malcolm Bruce Broadway Printers Vancouver, BC, 1937.

The Bank Book Collective. An Account to Settle: The Story of the United Bank Workers (SORWUC). Vancouver: Press Gang Publishers, 1979.   

Bush, Murray. Zindabad! B.C. Farmworkers’ Fight for Rights. Surrey, BC: Canadian Farmworkers Unions, 1995.

Carpenter Pensioners’ Association of British Columbia. Building British Columbia: The Story of the Carpenters’ Union and the Trade Union Movement since 1881. British Columbia: Carpenter Pensioners’ Association of British Columbia, 1979.

Creese, Gillian. Contracting Masculinity: Gender, Class, and Race in a White-Collar Union, 1944-1994. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Diamond, Sara. Women’s Labour History in British Columbia: A Bibliography, 1930–1948. Vancouver: Press Gang, 1980.

Griffin, Betty and Susan Lockhart. Their Own History: Women’s Contribution to the Labour Movement of British Columbia. New Westminster, BC: United Fisherman and Allied Workers’ Union/CAW Seniors Club, 2002.

Griffin, Sean. Fighting Heritage: Highlights of the 1930s Struggle for Jobs and Militant Unionism in British Columbia. Vancouver: Tribune Pub., 1985.

Hak, Gordon. Capital and Labour in the British Columbia Forest Industry, 1934–74. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2006.

Howard, Irene. The Struggle for Social Justice in British Columbia: Helena Gutteridge, the Unknown Reformer. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1992

Isitt, Benjamin. Militant Minority: British Columbia Workers and the Rise of a New Left, 1948–1972. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2011.

Knight, Rolf. Indians at Work: An Informal History of Native Labour in British Columbia, 1848–1930. Vancouver: New Star Books, 1996.

Knox, Paul, and Philip Resnick, eds. Essays in B.C. Political Economy. Vancouver: New Star Books, 1974.

Latham, Barbara K. and Roberta J. Pazdro, eds. Not Just Pin Money: Selected Essays on the History of Women’s Work in British Columbia. Victoria, BC: Camosun College, 1984.

Leier, Mark. Rebel Life: The Life and Times of Robert Gosden: Revolutionary, Mystic, Labour Spy. 2nd ed. Vancouver: New Star Books, 2012.

Leier, Mark. Red Flags and Red Tape: The Making of a Labour Bureaucracy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995.

Leier, Mark. Where the Fraser River Flows: The Industrial Workers of the World in British Columbia. Vancouver: New Star Books, 1990.

McCallum, Todd. Hobohemia and the Crucifixion Machine: Rival Images of a New World in 1930s Vancouver. Edmonton: Athabasca University Press, 2015.

Muszynski, Alicja. Cheap Wage Labour: Race and Gender in the Fisheries of British Columbia. Montréal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1996.

Nayeary, Kamala Elizabeth. The Punjabis in British Columbia: Location, Labour, First Nations, and Multiculturalism. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012.

Phillips, Paul. No Power Greater: A Century of Labour in British Columbia. Vancouver: BC Federation of Labour and Boag Foundation, 1967.

Potrebenko, Helen. Two Years on the Muckamuck Line. Vancouver: Service, Office, and Retail Workers’ Union of Canada, 1981.

Schwantes, Carlos A. Radical Heritage: Labor, Socialism, and Reform in Washington and British Columbia, 1885–1917. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1979.

Stainsby, Jill et al. AUCE and TSSU: Memoirs of a Feminist Union, 1972–1993. Burnaby, BC: Teaching and Support Staff Union Publishing, 1994.

Sufrin, Eileen. Where Angels Fear to Tread: Eileen Tallman and the Labor Movement. Edited by Wayne Roberts. Hamilton, ON: Labour Studies, McMaster University, 1981.

Webb, Patricia G. The Heart of Health Care: The First 50 Years: The Story of the Hospital Employees’ Union. Vancouver: Hospital Employees’ Union, 1994.

Wejr, Patricia, and Howie Smith. Fighting for Labour: Four Decades of Work in British Columbia, 1910–1950. Victoria, BC: Aural History Program, Provincial Archives of British Columbia, 1978.

Dissertations and Theses

Dissertations and theses are major research projects completed by graduate students as part of their Master’s and doctoral degrees. They can be extremely valuable resources that contain detailed research on topics of local and regional interest. Many theses and dissertations can be accessed online for free through university library websites. Library and Archives Canada also maintains a national database.

 Belshaw, John Douglas. “The Administration of Relief to the Unemployed in Vancouver during the Great Depression.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1982.

Bernard, Elaine. “The Long Distance Feeling: A History of the Telecommunications Workers Union.” PhD diss., Simon Fraser University, 1988.

Bjarnason, Emil. “Collective Bargaining in the Coal Mining Industry of Canada, 1825-1837”, MA thesis, Queen’s University, 1965.

Bradbury, Bettina. “The Road to Receivership: Unemployment and Relief in Burnaby, North Vancouver City and District, and West Vancouver, 1929–1933.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1975.

Coneybeer, Ian Tom. “The Origins of Workmen’s Compensation in British Columbia: State Theory and Law.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1991.

Gorter, Rob. “Wage Differentials and CPR Construction: An Analysis of Chinese Immigrant Labor in British Columbia, 1880–1885.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1995.

Hak, Gordon Hugh. “On the Fringes: Capital and Labour in the Forest Economies of the Port Alberni and Prince George Districts, British Columbia, 1910–1939.” PhD diss., Simon Fraser University, 1986.

Healy, M. Theresa. “‘Trouble Enough’: Gender, Social Policy and the Politics of Place in Vancouver and Saskatoon, 1929–1939.” PhD diss., Simon Fraser University, 1998.

Leier, Mark. “Through the Lens of Syndicalism: Fragmentation on the Vancouver and British Columbia Left before the Great War.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1987.

McCartney, Dale Michael. “A Crisis of Commitment: Socialist Internationalism in British Columbia during the Great War.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2010.

McDonald, Ian. “Class Conflict and Political Factionalism: A History of Local 213 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 1901–1961.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1986.

Milloy, Jeremy. “Fast Food Alienation: Service Work and Unionism in British Columbia, 1968–1998.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2007.

Parnaby, Andy. “‘We’ll hang all policemen from a sour apple tree!’: Class, Law, and the Politics of State Power in the Blubber Bay Strike of 1938–39.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1995.

Roth, David Michael, “A Union on the Hill: The International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers and the Organization of Trail Smelter and Chemical Workers, 1938–1945.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1991.

Roth, Mark Andreas. “The Gendered Workings of Class in Postindustrial, Service Sector Capitalism: The Emergence and Evolution of the British Columbia Nurses Union, 1976–1992.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2009.

Russwurm, Lani. “Constituting Authority: Policing Workers and the Consolidation of Police Power in Vancouver, 1918–1939.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2007.

Saltel, Lonny Darlene. “A Study of the English Teachers’ Association of British Columbia.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2009.

Schachtel, Kristin Michelle. “Kitty Malloys and Rebel Girls: Representations of the Woman Worker in Vancouver’s Early 20th Century Mainstream and Radical Labour Newspapers.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2010.

Shearman, Mary. “A ‘Minor League Equivalent to the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building’: Vancouver’s Penthouse Nightclub.” PhD diss., Simon Fraser University, 2016.

Smith, Julia Maureen. “Organizing the Unorganized: The Service, Office, and Retail Workers’ Union of Canada (SORWUC), 1972–1986. MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2009.

Smith, Roy Alfred. “Vancouver Longshoremen, Resilient Solidarity and the 1935 Interruption: Company Unionism 1923–1945.” MA thesis: Simon Fraser University, 2013.

Sproule, Jane. “The Polarization of Okanagan Fruit Farming Communities and the 1955 Packing House Workers’ Strike.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1991.

Stielow, Timothy Mark. “No Quarter Required: Japanese Experiences and Media Distortions in the Steveston Fishers’ Strike of 1900.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2012.

Strobel, Shaun. “Labour, Capital, and Class in the Twentieth Century Development of British Columbia’s Salmon Gillnet Fishing Fleet.” MA research project, Simon Fraser University, 1999.

Szychter, Gwendolyn Mary. “Farm Women and Their Work in Delta, British Columbia, 1900–1939.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1992.

Venables, Kenneth A. “The Making of Protective Labour Legislation in British Columbia: The 1912 Royal Commission on Labour and Its Aftermath.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1996.

Williams, M. Jeanne Meyers. “Ethnicity and Class Conflict at Maillardville/Fraser Mills: The Strike of 1931.” MA thesis, Simon Fraser University, 1982.

Labour History Collections & Archives

Documents, images and recordings are located at many archives and museums around BC. The following is a list of some of the institutions that have significant labour history collections of provincial importance.

Researchers are advised to consult local post-secondary institutions, museums and historical societies for more resources.

BC Archives (Royal BC Museum)

City of Vancouver Archives

Library and Archives Canada

Simon Fraser University

Of special note:  

Pacific Tribune Photo Collection at SFU

Women’s labour history interview collection at SFU (Sara Diamond interviewer)

Digitized issues of the BC Federationist, 1911-1925 (labour newspaper in Vancouver)

University of British Columbia

University of Victoria

Vancouver Public Library