Mining conflict spread into Ladysmith — Chronicles From The Past

In this second column in a two-part series, Ed Nicholson of the Ladysmith Historical Society shares news about the miners' strike of 1913.

This is the final part of a series contributed by Ed Nicholson of the Ladysmith Historical Society regarding the coal miners’ strike in 1913. The first part was printed Aug. 27.

Finally, after the conflict spread to Ladysmith, the editor could no longer ignore the situation. With the breaking of windows at a number of strikebreakers’ houses and the bombing of the Temperance Hotel and Mckinnon home, Sam Carley was obliged to make the following comment in the August 16 issue: “The Chronicle has to apologize for the lack of news in this issue. There is any amount of news to chronicle, but the less said at the present time is easier amended.”

Carley then elaborated in a longer editorial to explain the paper’s position. Under the heading “Militia Now in Control,” he wrote: “When the trouble between Canadian Collieries and their employees first commenced 11 months ago, the Chronicle took the position that it was not the case for newspaper comment … and we are continuing this policy, even under the present deplorable conditions. The Chronicle will avoid saying anything that might be misconstrued, and possibly lead to a further confusion of the serious matters that will have to be settled sooner or later. The Chronicle from the beginning has avoided the confidences of both sides to this dispute, and believes now that it has pursued the wisest course. To give anything like a full account of the events of the past week would not help matters at the present time.”

The paper for Aug. 19 did its best to ignore the tension in the town completely. A brief item under the caption “The Situation” indicated that a number of men in Nanaimo and Ladysmith had been arrested “for being concerned in the recent disturbances.” But that is all.

However, by Aug. 23, the dispute could no longer be ignored. Although there is no mention of torchlight marches, damage to property or confrontations involving strikers, strike breakers and the provincial militia, the paper did mention that there had been  “numerous arrests, in nearly all cases the charges being unlawful assembly. It is stated that about 140 men have been arrested at this time in Ladysmith, Wellington and Extension, and that more are to follow.” The Chronicle also reported that the Chinese Consul visited Ladysmith and indicated that he would ask the government to reimburse the Chinese residents for their losses through destruction of buildings and theft of property. In a page two editorial, Carley attempted again to focus local attention away from the strike.

“We can see no reason why the people of Ladysmith should take a despondent view of the future of the city. Apart from the vast coal resources in the vicinity, there is some of the finest agricultural and fruit land surrounding the city. This, in time must develop a profitable trade. In fact, during the 12 months the mines have been practically idle, business from the country has been growing and has enabled the merchants to keep their doors open. Ladysmith should become the center of a profitable agricultural based community. We know of no place with brighter prospects, and, as we have said before, the present troubles of the labor market should not discourage us.”

It was logging, not agriculture that eventually succeeded in revitalizing the Ladysmith economy. Carley never lived to see the recovery he predicted. He died five years after the strike, one of the last local victims of the influenza epidemic of 1918.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Ladysmith area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

The Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary donated $23,044 to Ladysmith Seconday School. From left to right: Steffen Toxopeus, Larry Shaw, Dave Travers, and Duck Paterson. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary donates $23,044 to support health of LSS students

The money will go towards funding the Hunger Bites program and purchase emergency supplies

(File photo)
LETTERS: Responses to Pateron’s Perspective

Jacqueline Leitch-Murphy, and Richard Tarnoff respond to Duck Paterson’s column

The RCMP are reminding drivers to find alternative ways home if they have consumed anything that impairs their ability to drive. (Black Press file photo)
Impaired Ladysmith driver flees road check twice on the same night

The officer issued the driver numerous violation tickets, and a four-month driving suspension

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Mowi Canada West’s Sheep Pass salmon farm, the company’s final B.C. operation to receive certification from the Aquaculture Steward Council. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is questioning a government decision to phase out salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada West)
Canadian Federation of Agriculture backs B.C. salmon farmers

Letter to prime minister calls for federal “champion” for aquaculture growth

Most Read