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Union Hall Named National Historic Site – A Labour History Update

July 29, 2019
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The 1898 Rossland hall is still in use today

Parks Canada officially designated the Rossland Miners’ Union Hall as a national historic site on July 20, 2019.

The subject of my 2013 documentary film Joe Hill’s Secret Canadian Hideout, the 1898 building has been the meeting place for many historic events in the history of the B.C. labour movement.

The Parks Canada web site describes the hall as “a monument to the Rossland Miners Union No. 38 local of the Western Federation of Miners, the first metalliferous mines union local in BC, and one of the most influential and successful unions in the history of the province. Built in 1898, this historic place was the central organization point for the Miners Union, whose fight for just and safe labour conditions at the end of the nineteenth-century led to the legislation of the eight-hour work day, amended the Trade Union Act, and paved the way for the union movement in British Columbia and Canada. 

The Parks Canada web site further notes that the hall is “an important part of British Columbia’s heritage because it is a symbolic icon of the province’s early mining industry. Having survived a series of major fires in the town’s history, this historic place is one of BC’s earliest surviving miners’ union halls, and is one of the few extant wooden buildings of this era, stature, and use in the province. It is valued as a touchstone to the mining heyday of the late 1890s, which initiated the development of infrastructure, transportation, and permanent settlements in this part of the Kootenay-Boundary region of BC. 

“Designed by architect E.J. Weston, and incorporating a variety of spaces such as a lodge room, dancing room, and a small stage, it is significant that the Rossland Miners Union Hall continues to function in its intended multi-purpose community capacity. Historically the hub of the community, this historic place has retained a respected level of social value for over one hundred years, a fact which warranted its provincially-sponsored restoration and rehabilitation in the late 1970s, and maintained its status as a social centre and rallying point in the community.”  A July 25 BC Local News report notes that the hall was one of six people or places recognized “as reflecting the diverse aspects of Canada’s heritage, and commemorating Indigenous, education, publishing, military, and architectural history.”

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