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Radical Rag

January 10, 2011

The Pioneer Labour Press in Canada


Verzuh, Ron.  Radical Rag: The Pioneer Labour Press in Canada (Ottawa: Steel Rail Publishing, 1988).

Cover blurb

Canada’s trade unions have long claimed a prominent place in the struggle for social democracy. From the earliest years of that struggle, the labour movement’s press has been on the front lines. Radical Rag tells the colourful story of those pioneer days, recounting the war for social justice fiercely waged through the pages of labour’s weekly newspapers.

Radical Rag documents the efforts of labour journalists to help the young movement win the nine-hour work day, organize the industrial masses, end child labour, gain new rights for women workers, and many other progressive social advances now taken for granted.

From the Ontario Workman and The Palladium of Labour to The Industrial Banner and The People’s Voice, Radical Rag recaptures the essence of the pioneer labour journal, uncovering a rich social history in the golden age of labour journalism in Canada.

Sample chapter

James S. Williams didn’t waste time stewing in jail after his arrest for seditious conspiracy in the spring of 1872. He and 12 other organizers of the Toronto printers’ strike, also arrested for their trade union activities, spent at least some of their time plotting the founding of the Ontario Workman, Canada’s first true labour newspaper.

Chapter 2 – Ontario Workman – Radical Rag

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3 Responses to Radical Rag

  1. Eric Leroux on September 29, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Congratulations for this excellent book! Very useful if you want to know more about the socialist and labor press in Canada. Is it still possible to buy a copy ?

    • Ron Verzuh on September 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks, Eric. A study of the Canadian labour press post-1900 is long overdue. I’d like to take it on but have several other projects on the go. Maybe someday. I imagine Radical Rag is available through the various online book sites. I know it is in most Canadian libraries.

      • Eric Leroux on September 30, 2011 at 6:23 pm

        Thanks for the comment.
        I’m working right now on a labour press project for the 19e and 20e century, but only for the Quebec province. I’m studying the labor press in a large perspective: the press of the Knights of Labor, the International and catholic unions, the industrial unions press, the socialist press, the communist, the jews, etc.

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