Canada History

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Sunny Way | Settling the West  | The Klondike | New Railways | Industry | Workers & Farmers | Empire | Boer War | Canadian navy | 1911

The early farm organizations came into being as ways of helping produce better crops, sharing agricultural information and educating the settlers in better farming practices. They also served as a communication conduit for the farming community. Many US settlers were drawn up into the Canadian frontier with advertisements places in equivalent US farmers publications. As the railways and the eastern business interested found it convenient to work together in squeezing the farmers by charging them higher freight rates and increased prices for production goods while keeping the agricultural prices suppressed.

At he twentieth century arrived new farming organization also were born but  these were specifically to protect the farmer against the power of big business. In 1902 the Farmers Association was formed in Ontario and combined with another organization called the Grange in 1907. In the west the Territorial Grain Growers Association was formed and quickly spread throughout Manitoba and Saskatchewan. They fought for fair prices from the grain elevators and fair shipping prices from the railways. An equivalent organization was formed in Alberta called the United Farmers of Alberta.

The next organization, and most powerful yet, to form was the Grain Growers Grain Company or the G.G.G.Co..  They lobbied and pressured the Government in Manitoba to concede some influence to them in matters of agriculture. They were granted a seat on the Winnipeg Grain Exchange to sell their own wheat and helped the Federal Government establish fairer systems of grading the grain so that big business could not fudge the system and pay lower prices for higher grades of grain.

The high tariff rates that protected Canadian industrial manufacturing resulted in higher prices for the farmers when they wanted to buy farming equipment, manufactured goods and also restricted their grain from the lucrative US market. In 1909 he Canadian Council of Agriculture was formed and in 1910 they backed the "Siege of Ottawa" which sent over 1000 farmers to the capital to present their grievances to the Laurier Government. Although Laurier and the Liberals made some tentative concessions to the farmers during the 1911 election, they real progress would not occur until the 20's and 30's when the farmers became directly involved in politics through their own political parties. It also did not help their cause when Laurier lost the election to the Conservatives.

The labour movement started off in much the same  manner as the farmers movement when in the 1860's societies for the aid of the workers began to spring up as relief organizations rather then political action groups. In 1872 the Globe was in a battle with type setters and Macdonald took a huge step forward by recognizing and passing legislation which legalized trade unions.

The first real labour movements, such as the Knights of Labour, came from the United States. Several groups developed from there along with some political rivalry between them. The Unions in Quebec tended to be closely associated with he church while those in Ontario sprang from the industrialized segments of society and on the west coast the forest industry aligned itself with the Workers of the World from the US.

From 1900 to 1914 labour unrest rose steadily and the battle between them and big business and other labour unions became more and more frequent. I 1907 Mackenzie King makes his first really important appearance on the political scene when he helps get the Lemieux Act passed by the Federal Government which formed an arbitration board composed of one labour representative, one business representative and one representative from the public who would recommend and arbitrated agreement for Managermen/labour actions. This seemed to work relatively well and in 1909 King became the first Minister of Labour when he was elected to Parliment.

The labour movement during this period never became very politicized and sought action through their support of old guard parties. It would take a world war and a vastly changed political landscape for that t occur.