PR- Riots

Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada

Prince Rupert's 3 Major Riots

I. W. W. Labour Riot
Industrial Workers of the World Union

Battle of Kelly's Rock Cut on 1st Ave.
Newspapers claimed over 400 Striking Street labourers, working on Civic Contracts in Prince Rupert, engaged in Rock Throwing, at another group of New Workers, (Scabs)
that were under Police Protection at the time.
It all ended up in a riot, with gun shots being fired.

Citizens were sworn in as “Special Constables” to help control the mob.

50 of the ringleaders were arrested.
One Milan Michchedich, a Montenegrin Striker, was dying of gun shot wounds, after the battle, and not expected to live.
It was announced in the papers, after the men served their sentences, they were to be deported.
Additional jail room had to be quickly made during the battle.

2 Constables were less seriously wounded in the battle.

The town was in a state of turmoil, all Saloons were ordered closed.
the Mayor Alfred Stork, ordered the Union Hall, the strikers were using, to be nailed shut.

Apr 8, 1911, the Civic Work was continuing.

Trial was held in Victoria BC
Case name- “Satoria et al.”
13 defendants, were being arraigned for unlawful assembly.
Vojovitch and Bukovitch were charged with shooting with intent.
Williams and Manson from Prince Rupert represented the men.
The Crown was represented by Mr. J. A. Aikman from Victoria

These men were obviously from foreign countries, and makes you wonder just how many rights did they have?

In a document printed by the I.W.W. they blamed the following 2 men:
George Leek was one of the business men involved, and he received a Victoria Cross from King George after.

Bill Lynch another business man, according to the Union document, proclaimed he was the First to fire a shot.
I assume the workers quit patronizing his department store, and when he was given the opportunity, he took it out on these men.

A Mr. John J. Sloan of Sloan & Co. Clothing Store, per the Union Document, supposedly went into the Union Hall, and dragged off one of the men.

The I. W. W. listed those businesses above, as well as:

  • Martin O'Reily Clothing Co,
  • Nicola Gurdjovitch, Contractor,
  • Union Transfer,
  • Grand View Hotel,
  • Prince Rupert Fish Market,
  • Dr. Eggert and Dr. Clayton,

were unfair to Organized Workers in Prince Rupert, and should not be patronized.

Reason for the strike per official Dominion of Canada Dept of Labour Document:
The strike of about 250 labourers took place at Prince Rupert, BC on account of the refusal of the Contractors for Road-Grading to grant an increase in wages from 37 1/2 cents to 45 cents per hour. The latter rate had been granted to the men by the Municipality, Candidates for the Municipal Honours having promised the advance before the elections. Several Riots took place in the course of this dispute on the contractors attempting to resume work with new hands, and one man was seriously wounded. Fifty-six arrests were made and normal conditions were resumed about April 8, many of the strikers having left the city and their places being filled. The strike was declared off on April 24, 1911.

So here the workers were promised a raise, then not given it?

How many times have I seen the use of “Scabs” in a Strike, causes this result.
It is a guaranteed result every time.
It becomes an automatic time bomb!
If you want trouble in a labour dispute, allow replacement workers.

I like the document above, “Normal” Conditions were resumed!!! with “New Hands” Says it all!

Normal for who? Surely wasn't the guy digging in the ditch was it?

George Leek was a Broker, Insurance and Manufacturers Agent, and Notary Public in 1911 in Prince Rupert.

William “Bill” Lynch was part owner of Lynch Bros. Department Stores with John M. Lynch.
See my Hazelton pages for more on the Lynch Family History.
Both were obviously made “Special Constables” and obviously allowed to carry guns to the battle.

1911 Police Force in Prince Rupert
Chief of Police - John James McCarvell, lived at the Royal Hotel
Police Sergeant- Thomas Regan, lived at the Royal Hotel
Police Constables- David McEwen, Malcolm McArthur, James W. Gray
McEwen and McArthur lived at the Royal Hotel as well.
Mr. Gray lived on 2nd ave.

Interesting to note the Union at that time, had no argument with the Police, just these “Special Constables”

Either way you look at this, it was a sad day in Prince Rupert's History.

Reason I get pretty excited about these Labour Riots, is I feel NOBODY, striker, policeman, Black, White, Asian, Native, etc. etc should die, trying to earn a living.
Is the almighty dollar worth that?

The next 2 are getting into Privacy Issues for names etc so I will not be doing more research on them.

6 were Charged for unlawful assembly in this one.

per headlines in one paper 20 were arrested, with tear gas used by the Police. A wild brawl in which 400 rioters were dispersed.
Mayor Harold Whalen at that time. One source said it was resentment over closing the Fishing Grounds. I believe this was another so called “Race Riot”
According to the newspapers of the time, Alcohol was a big factor in this riot and the next one as well. Obviously problems came to a head in the wee hours of the morning, after the bars closed.

  • Last modified: 2018/02/20 16:08
  • by dlgent