Working People

A History of Labour in British Columbia

This award-winning series of 30 short (1-3 minutes) films was produced by Landrock Entertainment through a partnership between Knowledge Network and the BC Labour Heritage Centre. Working People: A History of Labour in British Columbia explores the lives of ordinary people in the creation and growth of our province.

Click on the film’s title to be taken to the video and a link to accompanying lesson plans.

Download Lesson Plan for Teachers: Overview of Working People film series


Time Period: 1700 – 1920s:

First Economies: the economy prior to colonization and indigenous workers in the emerging industries of British Columbia.

Gold Fever: the gold rush in British Columbia.

Age of Steamers: Sternwheelers and steamships.

Miners vs. Dunsmuirs: Work in Dunsmuir-run coal mines on Vancouver Island

Mattie Gunterman: Photographer of early British Columbians at work.

Won Alexander Cumyow: Chinese Canadians in British Columbia.

Children at Work: Child labour in Kootenay coal mine.

Fishermen’s Strikes of 1900: Steveston and organizing across racial lines.

Mayo Singh: Indo-Canadian workers in BC’s forest industry.

Trouble on the Line: Women telephone operators and their early activism.

Time Period: 1920-1940s:

Bows and Arrows: Early indigenous longshore unions along Burrard Inlet.

Where the Fraser River Flows: Organizing railway workers

Helena Gutteridge: Suffragette and union organizer for working-class women.

Vancouver Island War: The 1912-1914 Big Strike in Vancouver Island coal mines.

The Professionals: Ethel Johns, an important figure in the history of BC nursing.

Ginger Goodwin: A figure whose life and death continue to stir debate.

Canning Salmon: Work in early canneries in BC.

Wilmer Gold: Photographer of loggers and fallers on Vancouver Island.

On to Ottawa: The On to Ottawa Trek in 1935 by unemployed.

Connie Jervis: Langley teacher who led fight for improved wages and arbitration.

Bloody Sunday: The 1938 sit-down strike in Vancouver.

Time Period: 1930s-1980s:

Ocean Falls: Life in a company town.

Margaret Rutledge: Women and aviation in BC.

Buck Suzuki: A Japanese fisher and early environmentalist on the Fraser River.

Home Front, Work Front: Women workers during WWII.

Dark Day at Second Narrows: Collapse of Ironworkers’ Memorial Bridge.

Bea Zucco: One woman’s crusade for change.

Canadian Farmworkers Union: Organizing by the Canadian Farmworkers’ Union.

For Women, By Women: The Service, Office, and Retail Workers’ Union of Canada (SORWUC)

Solidarity: Operation Solidarity and the Solidarity Coalition of 1983.