A Collection of Editorials About the 1919 Toronto General Strike

times 1919-06-03 editorial page header

Before diving into this post, check out my article for TVO about the 1919 Toronto General Strike.

world 1919-05-22 editorial and cartoon

Toronto World, May 22, 1919.

Mayor Tommy Church, who held numerous meetings with employers and labour in the lead up to the strike. The messsage on the wall refers to the Labor Temple at 167 Church Street, where many of the organizational meetings for the strike were held.

star 1919-05-23 editorial

Toronto Star, May 23, 1919.

A major Star editorial on the Winnipeg General Strike and the battle between employers and labour, which treats the disputes as labour disputes, not a rise in Bolshevism.

The Star‘s competitors, especially the Telegram and the Times, saw this editorial and others the paper published at this time as an opportunity to attack and ridicule.

tely 1919-05-23 criticism of star coverage of wgs

Evening Telegram, May 23, 1919.

This editorial refers to an old timey tune, which you can hear a 1926 recording of via the Internet Archive.

tely 1919-05-27 anti-star cartoon

Cartoon by George Shields, Evening Telegram, May 27, 1919.

Star publisher Joseph Atkinson is standing in the doorway. Not entirely sure who the other two men are supposed to be, though I’m guessing one is socialist activist and future Toronto mayor Jimmie Simpson (another favourite target of the Tely).

times 1919-05-23 editorial criticizing star

Toronto Times, May 23, 1919.

This is one of the few opportunities for me to browse the Toronto Times, the short-lived final incarnation of the Toronto News. Debuting on March 27, 1919, it was a Conservative daily in a market filled with several shades of Conservative dailies. Its death in September 1919 demonstrated the city could no longer support six papers.

times 1919-05-31 front page anti-star cartoon

Front page cartoon, Toronto Times, May 31, 1919.

The Times didn’t like Atkinson either, and also referred to the dog song.

times 1919-05-27 editorials on strike and rent profiteering

Toronto Times, May 27, 1919.

tely 1919-05-28 editorials

Evening Telegram, May 28, 1919.

As the deadline for the general strike loomed, Telegram editor John “Black Jack” Robinson started getting shouty.

Feel free to debate Robinson’s contention that “Toronto is a community of citizens, not of classes,” especially in 1919-era Toronto.

tely 1919-05-29 drifitng to calamity editorial

Evening Telegram, May 29, 1919.

me 1919-05-28 sober men want more editorial

Mail and Empire, May 28, 1919.

There were numerous theories floating around editorial pages as to why labourers were so upset in Toronto and across the country. This one uses an unnamed source claiming prohibition was making workers smarter now that their access to booze was (theoretically) restricted.

world 1919-05-28 editorial

Toronto World, May 28, 1919.

 

star 1919-05-29 editorial

Toronto Star, May 29, 1919.

And now, a word from our sponsors…

star 1919-05-28 lawrence bread ad about strikes

Toronto Star, May 28, 1919.

tely 1919-05-30 anti-strike cartoon

Cartoon by George Shields, Evening Telegram, May 30, 1919.

 

times 1919-05-30 editorial

Toronto Times, May 30, 1919.

times 1919-05-30 woman's page jewish girls among strikers

Toronto Times, May 30, 1919.

In all of the papers, the only women’s page to offer strike coverage was the Times‘. This piece about garment workers makes special note of their dress and religion in ways that feel off in a modern context.

star 1919-06-02 editorial

Toronto Star, June 2, 1919.

The Star‘s attempt to refute claims that “Europeans” were leading the strike effort…

times 1919-06-02 editorial

Toronto Times, June 2, 1919.

…while the Times continues its fearmongering tactics.

The “men we blame” were Jimmie Simpson (labour activist, future Toronto mayor, and whom the park and rec centre on Queen Street are named after), Reverend Salem Bland (a Methodist minister who preached Social Gospel, later became a Star columnist, and was the subject of a portrait by Lawren Harris), and William Ivens (editor of the daily workers bulletin during the Winnipeg General Strike).

world 1919-06-03 editorial cartoon

Toronto World, June 3, 1919.

globe 1919-06-03 editorial

Globe, June 3, 1919.

This editorial, and the next one, revolve around the roundup of 12 suspected subversives, and federal legislation that would deport anyone (especially those “Europeans”) arrested for Bolshevist tendencies.

me 1919-06-03 editorial

Mail and Empire, June 3, 1919.

times 1919-06-03 editorial

Toronto Times, June 3, 1919.

And now a pair of pieces celebrating the strike’s end. The Metal Trades Council remained on strike for another month.

times 1919-06-04 editorial on strike being beaten

Toronto Times, June 4, 1919.

globe 1919-06-04 editorial

Globe, June 4, 1919.

world 1919-06-05 editorial

Toronto World, June 5, 1919.

 

Goodbye 1918, Hello 1919

world 1918-12-31 follies of the passing show

Toronto World, December 31, 1918.

As 1918 ended, Torontonians contemplated a year which had seen the First World War end, celebrate what would hopefully be a cheerier year ahead, and engage in the usual political bickering which accompanied the annual voting rites of a municipal election on New Year’s Day.

globe 1919-01-01 editorial

The Globe, January 1, 1919. Unfortunately, chunks of the rest of this editorial are missing. 

The Globe‘s New Year’s editorial spent the most time on any of Toronto’s opinion pages contemplating the general state of the world now that the war was over.

me 1919-01-01 new year's editorial

Mail and Empire, January 1, 1919.

The Mail and Empire expressed hope for the future, and encouraged everyone to help with the reconstruction of the post-war world.

star 1918-12-31 editorial

Toronto Star, December 31, 1918.

The Star‘s editorial looked back to the genteel customs of New Year’s Days of yore.

world 1919-01-01 editorial

Toronto World, January 1, 1919.

The World‘s editorial focused on the top story item as the old year gave way to the new: the municipal election. Mayor Tommy Church ran for his fifth one-year term against Board of Control member John O’Neill, former city councillor William Henry Shaw, and York East MP Thomas Foster.

me 1918-12-31 foster ad

Mail and Empire, December 31, 1918.

Long before Rob Ford preached zealous penny-pinching, Thomas Foster took frugality to extremes. A self-made millionaire known for visiting tenants in person to collect rent or fix problems, Foster spent two decades as an elected official at the federal and municipal levels. It would also appear, based on this campaign ad, he dabbled in post-war xenophobia. While Foster finished a distant fourth in this campaign, he retained his federal seat. He narrowly won the mayoralty in the 1925 municipal campaign over W.W. Hiltz, and served three terms. His legacy is the giant mausoleum he built for himself near Uxbridge.

news 1918-12-31 election ads

Toronto News, December 31, 1918. Click on image for larger version.

A sampling of candidates vying for council seats. Three of the four Board of Control winners (Charles Maguire, Sam McBride, and William Robbins) later served as mayor.

star 1918-12-31 tommy church ad

Toronto Star, December 31, 1918.

Church’s campaign appealed to returning soldiers and their families. During the war, the mayor saw off as many departing soldiers as possible. “For many soldiers,” historian Donald Jones noted, “the last thing they remembered about Toronto was the sight of their mayor running beside the train shouting goodbye and wishing them good luck.” After the war, he welcomed them back and championed various measures to provide vets with financial benefits.

tely 1918-12-31 front page pro-church cartoon

Evening Telegram, December 31, 1918.

As it would several times during Church’s career, the Telegram supported his re-election campaign with ridiculous zeal. Editorials blasted anyone who criticized Church, especially the Star.

tely 1918-12-31 put mayor back on job

Evening Telegram, December 31, 1918.

One of many Telegram articles extolling the virtues of Tommy Church. The key issues the paper was concerned about was public ownership of the hydro system and the ongoing battles with the Toronto Railway Company as the end of its 30-year franchise to run many of the city’s streetcars neared its end.

tely 1918-12-31 telling women to vote for church

Evening Telegram, December 31, 1918.

Even the women’s page turned into pro-Church propaganda.

Church received his fifth term, beating O’Neill by nearly 10,000 votes. He remained in office through 1921.

news 1919-01-02 female school board trustees

Toronto News, January 2, 1919.

Election day was a good one for female candidates for the Toronto Board of Education, as four of the five who ran became trustees.

globe 1919-01-01 1918 bids adieu

The Globe, January 1, 1919.

The Globe ran an interview with the outgoing year before it disappeared for good.

news 1918-12-31 heard in rotundas of toronto's hotels

Toronto News, December 31, 1918.

The most covered party to welcome 1919 was held at the King Edward Hotel. Wonder how that meeting of the Canadian Society for the Protection of Birds went.

news 1919-01-02 how merry makers greeted dawn of the new year

Toronto News, January 2, 1919.

This would be the last New Year’s celebrations the News covered, as the paper rebranded itself as the Toronto Times in March, then folded for good in September.

tely 1919-01-02 new year's celebrations at the king eddy

Evening Telegram, January 2, 1919.

globe 1918-12-30 great things in 1919

The Globe, December 30, 1918.

The city’s Protestant ministers had plenty to say about the events of the past year, and looked forward to the momentous events they felt would come in 1919.

me 1919-01-01 new year met reverent welcome

Mail and Empire, January 1, 1919.

How people reverently celebrated New Year’s…

tely 1919-01-02 bolshevik pamphlets in earlscourt

Evening Telegram, January 2, 1919.

We’ll end with a hint of the year to come, with this tiny item about the distribution of “Bolshevik pamphlets” in the west end.

***

And so ends 2018 for this site. Thanks for reading and supporting my work over the year, whether it’s here or for the many clients I’ve produced material for. The major (and minor) events of 1919 will play a large role in my work for 2019, so stay tuned here and elsewhere for how those events happened, and what their long-term legacies were.