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The Regina Riot: 1935



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The depression of the 1930's confronted Canadians with shrinking markets, falling prices, a drought-stricken Prairie region and mass unemployment. Consequently there was an enormous burden of relief and welfare. Financial support from the Dominion was needed in all areas, but since not all areas were affected equally some required more assistance than others. The federal government gave grants and loans to the provinces to assist "('with relief costs and Ln some cases increased provincial subsidies. To alleviate distress the Dominion also carried on a public works program and established relief camps for single men. No t everyone viewed the depression in the same way. In 1930 the Horkers' Unity League was established to organize labour into "revolutionary unions" for the struggle against capitalism. The League worked under the assumption that a time of crisis was favorable both in terms of the expansion of the League and the onslaught on the existing system. At the mid point of the 1930's several hundred men on the initiative of a union established in the relief camps by the ';forkers' Unity League left these camps in British Columbia. After months in Vancouver they started on a trek to ottawa to present six demands to the government. They were stopped in Regina. On July 1, 1935 a riot, which has been termed the Regina Riot, broke out in the city. Although some writers have referred briefly to this event a detailed study has not been made. The writer hopes to make a small contribution to the examination of the events of the 1930's by examining the Regina Riot. The main purpose of this study is to trace the events which culminated in a serious riot. The examination is primarily concerned with a study of the events in an attempt to explain why there was a Regina Riot. Al though the riot was related to the broader problems of the depression and government policies in coping with the depression, these aspects are touched upon only to the extent that they related specifically to the events surrounding the riot. Relief camps are discussed, but it is outside the scope of this study to make a detailed evaluation of this or any other type of relief measure. Although the leader of the trek was an avowed Communist and the organization in the camps had been established by a Communist organization, the question of Communism in the 1930ls is not examined except where it applies specifically to the events of this study. The movement of the men out of the camps to Vancouver and their stay in Vancouver involved to a greater or lesser degree the striking relief camp men, the municipal, provincial and federal governments, as did the trek eastward. The decisions and actions of each are examined. The trek was stopped in Regina by the federal government. that very important decision resulted in a confrontation of the strikers and the federal government and also involved in the dispute the provincial government. The events of this period are examined, along with the incidents that touched off the actual riot. Finally the inquiry into the riot and the eventual disposition of the relief camps are discussed.





Master of Arts (M.A.)







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