This is the Kingston Worker History Project’s timeline. It is always a work in progress. We will eventually create subject-specific timelines, such as housing, union organizing, health and safety, etc.



January: Six journeymen bakers petition bakery owner John Counter to reverse December 1836 wage cuts. Counter responds by charging the bakers with conspiracy.

April: A jury of twelve find the journeymen bakers not guilty of conspiracy.


April: The first recorded instance of the Knights of Labor organizing an assembly in Kingston.


March 14: Mrs. Cassie Ward Mee (1848-1912) speaks on the “Mission of Labour” at a packed City Hall meeting introduced by Mayor John Carson. Mee is born and raised in Kingston and lives in Cortland, New York. In the northeast United States, Mee is a popular public speaker for the Knights of Labour. After a captivating 90 minute speech, the audience votes unanimously to thank Mee.

May 13-25: Over a hundred employees strike for higher wages at the Victoria Foundry owned by Chown & Cunningham, and reject the piece-work pay system that had been implemented two years earlier. The foundry constructs stoves. The strikers are moulders, stove mounters and fitters, silver-platers and labourers. Many of the strikers are members of the Knights of Labor. A compromise settlement is reached and work resumes May 26.

May 17-24: Forty carders at the cotton mill strike for a 15 percent wage increase following a ten percent cut in wages in 1885. Many strikers are also members of the Knights of Labor. The strike is settled when the manager delivers 10 percent wage increases. Work resumes on May 24.


November 30-January 1901: Labourers employed by the City of Kingston strike over the employment of a non-union labourer, Robert Moon. Union labourers, members of the Laborers’ Protective Union No. 8663, resolved at a meeting December 1 to request the City recognize the union and only hire union members. A petition with 96 labourers names was submitted. The strike ended with a City Council Board of Works decision on December 3 determining that union laborers would complete their work over a week’s time without the employment of Moon. Labourers cheered the decision and the strike ended. By late December, the Council had determined they would not renew the agreement. Several labourers struck again but by late January, 1901, the strike had petered out. The City of Kingston agreed to hire union men in need of work but would not hire only union men.


May 13: Upwards of thirty longshoremen struck the Richardson wharf demanding equal pay with other longshoremen employed on a more permanent basis.

May 15: After an iron worker named Connolly was dismissed from the Canadian Locomotive Company for “loafing”, 180 members of the Iron Workers’ Union No. 8412 went on strike. The strike coincided with wage demands from the union, of which Connolly was identified as one of the “chief agitators,” and the union strike demanded his re-instatement claiming he was fired for his agitation around better wages. The entire factory was idled, including 400 members of the International Association of Machinists No.368.


April 1: A strike over wages by 33 employees at Carrington’s Tannery begins. On the first evening of the strike, the strikers meet at the trades union hall to form a tanners’ union. Employees demand a wage increase from $1 to $1.25 per day, and boys’ wages from 40 cents to 50 cents, and 50 cents to 60 cents.

April: Machinists at the Canadian Locomotive Company go on strike for higher wages. The strike only officially ends in December 1905 with no concessions. German, Scottish and England machinists are hired to replace the strikers.


April 18: An acetylene gas explosion kills four on the docked government steamer Scout. Among those killed are three painters and the captain of the ship who is fatally wounded and died the following morning of April 19. A fire fighter was also severely injured.


May: Fifty weavers at the Dominion Mill go on strike after being refused a 25 percent wage increase. The strike crumbles after ten days and there is no wage increase.

June 28: A group of 150 Italian labourers strike at the Grand Trunk Railway in Kingston. The strikers demand to be paid. Three Kingston police officers attempt to arrest the strike leaders but are driven off, with one officer apparently slashed by a stiletto (a knife). An armed detachment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery marches on the strikers, who give up, with some fleeing. Upwards of thirty strikers are arrested.


April: The Carpenters’ Union strikes 16 different firms for the eight hour day, and after four days wins higher wages but settles for a 9-hour day.

May: A strike of 15 workers for higher wages at the Frontenac Cereal Company is defeated.


May: Plumbers strike on May 1 and win a wage increase on June 1, but not the 8-hour day.

June: A strike for higher wages by 65 carpenters is settled in two on days on June 3.

July: Painters strike at three firms for a 25 cent pay increase and a reduction of six weekly hours.

September-November: Teamsters strike the Ontario Asphalt Paving Company, a Windsor-based company paving Brock and Clarence Streets. The strike is comprised of black workers brought to Kingston from Windsor by the paving company.


June: Tanners Union strikes at Davis Tannery

November: The Dominion Mill strike begins. Dominion Textiles, Canada’s largest textile company, claims it cannot afford wage increases.


January: Delegates at Kingston’s Trades and Labour Council proposes a general strike in sympathy with the mill workers. Despite initial enthusiasm, the general strike idea is abandoned when Dominion Textile agrees to a third-party investigation of its finances.

February: The Cotton Mill strike is settled.

April: Retail Clerks union is formed.

May: Kingston’s Strike Wave of 1919: Over 500 workers at the Canadian Locomotive Company go on strike, led by the Kingston Metal Workers’ Council. Carpenters, barbers, and painters also strike. Collingwood Shipyard avoids strike by agreeing to large wage increases and reduced hours. Retailers and grocers agree to 8-hour day.

November: The Canadian Locomotive Company strike ends after 6 months.


April-December: Carpenters, masons and sheet metal workers go on sympathy strike in support of striking plumbers. Most unions suspend sympathy strikes in July, with sheet metal workers in December. The plumbers strike petered out and was defeated in August 1929.


May: Kingston’s Unemployed Committee invades City Hall demanding a reversal of municipal cuts to food and fuel relief.


November: On November 28, the Boilermakers Lodge 210 is joined by carpenters, electricians and plumbers in a strike of two hundred workers at the Kingston Shipbuilding Company. Wages are the central issue and an agreement is reached to end the strike on December 2 and send the matter to a government commission to resolve.


April: A week-long strike over wages is waged by bricklayers, masons and plasterers. Demanding a ten percent increase, the strikers settle for a five percent offer.

May: A city-wide strike of 250 carpenters is launched against the contractors’ association over a refusal to deliver a wage increase. Within two days the strike ends, with the wage increase being awarded by a federal government conciliator.


April: Three hundred workers at the Kingston Shipbuilding Company go on sympathy strike with striking shipbuilding workers in Midland, Ontario. The Midland strike begins April 16 by protesting the firing of a worker. Kingston workers walk out on April 18. The strike is settled April 21.

The United Electrical Workers (UE) makes the first attempt at organizing a union at the new ALCAN factory. High staff turnover stymies the union’s attempts, and the.


The UE is legally recognized as the bargaining agent for workers at the Canadian Locomotive Company. UE Local 522 is chartered.


After a three year organizing campaign, the United Steelworkers Local 434 is legally recognized as the collective bargaining agent for production workers at ALCAN.


May: “The Kingston 7”: Seven striking Canadian Seamen’s Union are arrested in the big Great Lakes strike.

July-August: 40 workers at Monarch Battery strike for a 40-hour work week, a raise, improved ventilation, and graduated vacations. The union is UE Local 522.


June: ALCAN strike

December: UE Local 522 is expelled from the Kingston Labour Council (CCL) for not paying its dues.


Canada Bread drivers form union: Local 403 of the Bakery and Confectionary Workers International Union.


March-August: UE Local 522 members strike for 22 weeks at the Frontenac Tile Works.

June 16-20: More than a hundred employees of Kingston’s Board of Works strike for union recognition. On June 18, the City of Kingston fires over 100 employees. On June 20, the City of Kingston capitulates, recognizes the union, and rehires the fired employees. The City of Kingston begins bargaining with Local 9 of National Organization of Civic, Utility and Electrical Workers, the precursor of CUPE Local 109. See “How three illegal strikes established Kingston’s municipal workers’ union, CUPE 109“.


August: One-day strike by draftsmen at the Canadian Locomotive Company.


May 25-27: The City of Kingston’s 75 garbage collectors, carpenters and labourers strike for a 40-hour work with no pay reduction, and union check-off. The demand for ending 44 and 48-hour work weeks is dropped in exchange for a 10 percent pay increase, and a settlement reached on the evening of May 27. See “How three illegal strikes established Kingston’s municipal workers’ union, CUPE 109“.


Frontenac Tile workers vote to leave UE and join the United Steelworkers


February 7-26: A  wage dispute involving a handful of shipyard workers led to a general sympathy strike involving 125 shipyard workers, represented by Boilermakers Local 210. On February 26, 75 workers voted at the shipyard gates in favuor of sending the issue to arbitration.

February 11: Thirty-five Bell Telephone repairmen and installers conducted a 3-hour walkout at the company’s Montreal Road garage. The Bell employees argued one of their co-workers was unfairly and retro-actively penalized for a truck accident. “They’re trying to treat us as if we were children.” said one employee who demanded that discipline was standardized and not doled out arbitrarily. Representatives of the Canadian Telephone Employees Association stated they did not support the walkout. All employees returned to work without consequence.

April 19-23: After a meeting at the Steelworkers Hall, 45 Teamsters voted to “walk out” in sympathy with thousands of striking truck drivers across Ontario and Quebec. Pickets went up at the Kingston terminals of Smith Transport and Direct-Winters Transport. A motivation for the sympathy strike was a hundred Montreal employees of Smith Transport going on strike. The strikes are a protest against the increasing use of rail carriers by trucking companies to transport truck trailers. No truck drivers in Kingston were disciplined for the walkout.

July 14-18: Thirteen employees at Canada Bread go on strike seeking paid statutory holidays. Trucks are used to block bakery, which are moved by Kingston Police on July 14 to allow non-union trucks drivers through. The “scabs” were brought in from Ottawa. At least one picket was knocked over by a scab truck when strikers linked arms to create a chain. Residents of Toronto Street kept pickets fed with coffee, soft drinks, sandwiches and cake. Housewives and local businesses refused to carry Canada Bread and it was reported that trucks were still full of bread at the end of the day. On July 16, the company announced it was closings its factory and discontinuing service to Kingston immediately and blamed the employees. It was reported that a transport truck from Toronto had cleared out remaining loaves of bread and baking trays. Strikers and the wives of strikers remained on the lines until a settlement in the strike was reached on July 18. The factory reopened and strikers returned to work.


May 25-29: City of Kingston garbage collectors strike and win improved medical benefits. City labourers win the same hourly rate as their counterparts in private sector construction. See “How three illegal strikes established Kingston’s municipal workers’ union, CUPE 109“.


Du Pont strike

July: Kingston postal workers join “The Big Strike” which leads collective bargaining rights for postal workers


April: The Kingston Independent Nylon Workers Union is formed by 40 Du Pont workers at a meeting held at Frontenac Public School.

July-October: Over a thousand employees strike at the Millhaven Fibres plant (owned by CIL, later Celanese). The strike is marred by picket line violence involving police, scabs and pickets, including a picket line riot on the night of September 27-28.


December: The Kingston Independent Nylon Workers Union wins the representation vote at Du Pont.


April: UE strikes the Canadian Locomotive Company. Owner Fairbanks-Morse closes factory.

September: Sixteen families wage an 8-day rent strike against the large landlord John Hewett who owns over 50 properties in Kingston, Belleville, and Gananoque. They oppose a 12 percent rent increase. Hewett seizes an estimated $2000 in tenant assets but is forced to repay tenants following a court case.


July 22-August 30: 1,300 ALCAN employees strike, including 950 Steelworkers members and 350 IAM members. Efforts to secure “COLA: Cost of Living Adjustment” language and a dental plan were defeated.


July 6-October 18: 1,200 ALCAN employees strike, including 950 Steelworkers and 250 IAM members. The strike was against seven-days continuous production which was conceded, but with voluntary overtime on weekends with 1.5x and 2x pay.


February: Hospital workers across Ontario, including Kingston, wage a province-wide illegal strike.


May-October: The 55 nurses of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health go on strike.


August 9-December 4: Forty St. Lawrence Place retirement home workers go on strike for a $1/hour wage increase. They win a 67 cent increase plus a lump sump payment. The workers are members of SEIU Local 183.


Queen’s University service workers strike.


October: Hundreds protest Premier Mike Harris at the Cataraqui Golf and Curling Club


February-March: Province-wide OPSEU strike involves thousands of Kingston public sector workers


June: The Kingston Day of Action against the provincial government of Premier Mike Harris

Pathways strike by OPSEU members

First contract strike by CAW members at Kingston Dodge Chrysler dealership


September-October: Over 650 City of Kingston workers strike against concessions demanded by City Hall. The striking union, CUPE Local 109, pickets the Ex, causing controversy. An agreement is reached after five weeks.


A second OPSEU strike has thousands of Kingstonians picketing


February 13 2003: About 300 lab and x-ray technicians at Kingston General Hospital conduct a one-day illegal strike for higher wages and staffing levels. Nearly a hundred staff who participated in the strike are given a one-day suspension. They are members of OPSEU Local 444.


Cancoil strike by 95 employees, members of UFCW Local 175.


January-May: StarTek workers organize the StarTek Kingston Employees Union. Card-signing stalls at about one-third of StarTek employees after senior management threats of call centre closure. The campaign is suspended in May 2005.


December: Thousands of Limestone District School Board elementary teachers strike for one-day as part of protest against Bill 115.


October-November: Hundreds of St. Lawrence College faculty join a province-wide 5-week strike to win equal pay for equal work. Skilled trades workers respect picket lines and refuse to cross, delaying campus construction projects.