1930s Work Relief Camps Slide 2 1. In 1931 the B.C. government established "relief camps" for single and unemployed men. 1. In these work camps, usually located in the wilderness far away from settled areas 2. Young men were employed building roads, airports, military bases and parks. 3. At first the pay was $2.00 a day. Slide 3 The Boys at work Slide 4 4. Soon after, the camps in B.C. were operated jointly by the federal and provincial government and wages were reduced to $7.50 a month. 5. In 1933, the Department of National Defense took over the camps: reduced pay to 20 cents a day eight hours a day, with a 44 hour week. Slide 5 Slide 6 Slide 7 Purpose of the Camps 6. The real purpose of the camps was to hide the men in far-off areas, away from cities where they tended to organize and make "trouble" for the police and government Slide 8 Conditions in the Camps 7. Conditions in the camps were deplorable: The food was often poor Recreation facilities were lacking Tents and bunkhouses were often without stoves Second blankets were rare 7. What the young men suffered most from was isolation from society. Slide 9 Sleeping Conditions Slide 10 Reactions in the Camps 8. It wasn't long before protest strikes began to develop and demands made. Some were for better food, fresh meat, new potatoes and one package of tobacco every three days. 9. The isolation and dehumanizing conditions of the camps created an ideal situation for organizing; workers were desperate, and they had the time and contact to figure out how to take action. Relief camp workers in B.C. formed the Relief Camp Workers Union (RCWU) Slide 11 On-to-Ottawa Trek Slide 12 1. The federal government refused to negotiate with the strikers, despite the strong public support. At a huge organizing meeting, strikers voted to take their complaints directly to Parliament Hill. 2. On June 3, 1935, the first group climbed on board the boxcars and left Vancouver. Others joined the trek in Kamloops, Field, Golden, Calgary and Moose Jaw. Slide 13 3. Riding the Rails Slide 14 More workers join the riders Slide 15 Government Reaction 4. By the time the trekkers reached Regina, P.M. Bennett decided it was time to put an end to this "insurrection (meaning revolution). 5. The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was ordered to ban the trekkers as "trespassers". 5. The federal cabinet directed the RCMP to strengthen troops in Regina to disband the trekkers. Slide 16 Regina Riot The RCMP and Regina city police, under orders from P.M. Bennett, attacked a public meeting of 3,000 gathered in support of the strikers. The RCMP and Regina city police, under orders from P.M. Bennett, attacked a public meeting of 3,000 gathered in support of the strikers. 6. By the end of the evening of July 1, 1935, one person was dead, several hundred were injured, and thousands of dollars of property damage left downtown Regina in ruins. Slide 17 Demonstration in Regina Slide 18 Riot Chaos Slide 19 Effects of the Trek The events helped to discredit Bennett's Conservative government, and in the 1935 federal election, his party went from holding 134 seats to just 39. The events helped to discredit Bennett's Conservative government, and in the 1935 federal election, his party went from holding 134 seats to just 39. After the Trek, the government provided free transportation as a peace sign back to the camps. After the Trek, the government provided free transportation as a peace sign back to the camps. The camps were soon dismantled and replaced by seasonal relief camps run by the provinces and that paid the men slightly more for their labour than the earlier camps. The camps were soon dismantled and replaced by seasonal relief camps run by the provinces and that paid the men slightly more for their labour than the earlier camps.
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