Article

‘The best men that ever worked the lumber’: Aboriginal Longshoremen on Burrard Inlet, BC, 1863-1939

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

Abstract

This essay examines Aboriginal longshoremen, most of whom belonged to the Squamish First Nation, on Burrard Inlet, British Columbia, from 1863 to 1939. Beginning with a consideration of the Squamish adaptation to wage labour in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, this essay analyses the ways in which Aboriginal workers negotiated the daily demands of waterfront work. Their encounter with the work process, labour politics, welfare capitalism, and class conflict are studied in depth. Despite intense competition from non-Aboriginal workers for limited job opportunities, Aboriginal longshoremen worked on Burrard inlet for a long period of time; in addition to the daily demands of waterfront work, this essay also explores the strategies that Squamish dockers adopted to protect their positions on the waterfront. Often mentioned in the scholarly literature, but never studied in a systematic way, the 'Indian'waterfront provides a window into the importance of waged work to Aboriginal people on Burrard Inlet and the sophisticated ways that the Squamish responded to Canadian colonialism and capitalism.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... In the colonial establishment of the city in 1886, Vancouver was secured as the western terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the Port of Vancouver became important in exporting resources such as timber, agricultural products, and minerals. Industrial employment was concentrated in lumber and pulp mills around False Creek and Burrard Inlet, and in sawmills and fish canneries along the Fraser River (Hutton 2011;Parnaby 2006). Such industries contributed significantly to Vancouver's growth in the subsequent years. ...
Article
Full-text available
Waterfront redevelopment in the Vancouver region, Canada, is occurring rapidly. While downtown waterfront re-developments have long offered planning examples for global audiences, they also set reference points for post-industrial redevelopment regionally. Currently, competing land uses are generating an extremely contentious regional urban development setting. This paper uses a narrative approach and uniquely joins insights from suburban and waterfront studies to consider narratives that fuel ongoing regional suburban waterfront redevelopment. The paper first contextualizes suburban waterfront change in the Vancouver region, then analyzes a recent case, identifying four narratives that help justify waterfront transformation. The paper demonstrates how a few strategic plot lines can become powerful in generating waterfront development, thereby threatening stated planning goals for sustainability and affordability, among others. Such narratives also showcase signs of short-term thinking, as suburban cities appear to be “allowed one” waterfront development, a trajectory which can override planning commitments for sustainable urban futures.
... Coast Salish, Chinese, Japanese, South Asian, and European peoples have worked in waterfront activities such as milling, farming and fi shing (see Queensborough Community Plan 2013: 9-10). In particular, Indigenous labour was important to the lumber industry in the Vancouver area throughout the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries (Parnaby 2006). Issues of race and class have long histories on the waterfront. ...
Article
Full-text available
Urban waterfront research has concentrated primarily on the redevelopment of the core areas of major port cities; yet just as cargo handling activities have extended from their traditional core urban port locations into the metropolitan hinterland, urban waterfront redevelopments have spread into smaller and suburban communities. Both processes have occurred without much scholarly attention. In this paper, we trace the implications of waterfront redevelopment processes in smaller suburban communities beyond the urban core. We show how suburban waterfront developments tend to ignore local cultural histories and communities while threatening the values of diversity that might be embraced in all public spaces, regardless of location. To accomplish this, we provide a case study of waterfront redevelopment and public space formation in the town of Squamish, British Columbia, in comparison to other suburban waterfront redevelopments around the metropolis of Vancouver. Typically, these redevelopments are in communities that used to host significant industrial operations and are now trying to "reinvent" themselves. We identify the limited publics celebrated by, and the constrained forms of publicness created through, contemporary suburban waterfront planning practices. We also pay specific attention to the changing planning discourses that strongly influence the design and marketing of contemporary suburban waterfront communities.
Article
Full-text available
On 14 July 2018, as the French military was parading in the streets of Nouméa, an extraordinary Congress of the Parti Travailliste de Kanaky (PT, English: Labour Party of Kanaky) voted to abstain from New Caledonia’s 4 November referendum on sovereignty. Later, in their 16th Congress the Union Syndicale des travailleurs Kanak et des exploités (USTKE) also decided to opt out with a large majority. That the USTKE (which from its very foundation in 1981 has been at the forefront of the independence movement) and the PT (its political wing) decided so, may seem puzzling. Yet, it makes sense for practical and tactical reasons. First, there was the view that the referendum was rigged and not about ‘self’-determination since ‘non-colonised’ Caledonians outnumbered ‘colonised’ Kanak people in the electoral list of people eligible to cast their vote, at odds with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Art. 3). In the words of the PT: ‘it is anything but a referendum of self-determination. There is no question, for us colonised people, of associating ourselves with what is an electoral farce, something that will trap the Kanak people once more. There will be as many non-Kanak as Kanak who will vote in this referendum, which is proof that it is not a referendum of self-determination’. Second, there was the reckoning that this referendum was the pinnacle of an overarching process of social reengineering, on-going since the 1998 Accord de Nouméa as an attempt to engulf the Kanak struggle into a ‘common destiny’, including the conception of a newly branded ‘Caledonian citizenship’. Kanak labour forces have long considered social partnership as a colonial manoeuvre, a trap: back in 2000, the USTKE rejected the Social Pact designed for promoting social dialogue and reconciliation. The counter-argument has always been that there cannot be any ‘common destiny’ in a context of deep-rooted social exclusion and broad inequalities. Kanak labour’s tactical position is thus to reject the chessboard altogether and instead to direct the struggle towards matters of discrimination and injustice.
Article
Archaeologists studying human remains and burial sites of North America's Indigenous peoples have discovered more than information about the beliefs and practices of cultures - they have also found controversy. These Mysterious People shows how Western ideas and attitudes about Indigenous peoples have transformed one culture's ancestors, burial grounds, and possessions into another culture's "specimens," "archaeological sites," and "ethnographic artifacts," in the process disassociating Natives from their own histories. Focusing on the Musqueam people and a contentious archaeological site in Vancouver, These Mysterious People details the relationship between the Musqueam and researchers from the late-nineteenth century to the present. Susan Roy traces the historical development of competing understandings of the past and reveals how the Musqueam First Nation used information derived from archaeological finds to assist the larger recognition of territorial rights. She also details the ways in which Musqueam legal and cultural expressions of their own history - such as land claim submissions, petitions, cultural displays, and testimonies - have challenged public accounts of Aboriginal occupation and helped to define Aboriginal rights in Canada. An important and engaging examination of methods of historical representation, These Mysterious People analyses the ways historical evidence, material culture, and places themselves have acquired legal and community authority.
Article
Inspired by a recent call for greater integration between histories of capitalism and of Indigenous peoples in the United States, I argue that scholars across American studies should take stock of the ways in which Indigenous history pertains to fields beyond economic history. This article emphasizes Indigenous agency and activism to historicize how Aboriginal history has become (somewhat) more prominent in American studies. In reviewing some of the literature that has helped bring about this still incomplete shift, I look at developments in the settler states of the United States and Canada in order to highlight their shared colonial structures.
Article
This is the first of two essays examining the recent historiography of Canadian Aboriginal History published roughly in the last two decades (1992–2012) using a regional focus – British Columbia. Influenced by broader political contexts and land claims litigation, BC scholarship has been characterized by diversity and interdisciplinarity. The impact of ethnohistorical methodologies, “the cultural turn,” and the centrality of race and imperialism have brought an international scholarship to bear on the writing of British Columbia Aboriginal History. From reading the colonial archive against the grain to better appreciate Indigenous histories hidden within to seeking out Indigenous historical knowledge and employing collaborative relationships to facilitate this, historians have shifted their methods to be more inclusive of the Aboriginal perspectives. The prominence of colonialism and the acknowledgement of resettlement, rather than settlement, as the foundation of the province's past have kept Native‐Settler relations in the foreground in the scholarship.
Article
ON 23 JUNE 1919, 5000 workers affiliated with Victoria's Metal Trades Council downed tools in sympathy with Winnipeg workers and as a protest against what they called 'Star Chamber' methods of repression against the working-class leadership. While much has been written on the Winnipeg General Strike and 1919 Canadian labour revolt, the Victoria General Strike is revealing as a contested expression of working-class solidarity, an illustration of the unresolved tension between craft and industrial unionism and different labour leaderships in the west-coast city. Much of British Columbia labour had embraced the One Big Union and its socialist leadership by the spring of 1919, but Victoria's organized workers wavered on the question of striking in sympathy with Winnipeg's working class. While the shipyards were a locus of militancy, influential groups of workers, AFL rather than OBU in orientation, opposed a general strike and undermined the mood of solidarity. Local conditions in different economic sectors shaped the working-class response to the Winnipeg General Strike. This tension provides fresh insight into the development of class consciousness and industrial militancy at the end World War I, breaking new ground in the historiography of Canada's postwar labour revolt.
Article
Full-text available
Both a sshrc doctoral fellowship and a Status of Women of Canada grant entitled "Hidden Actors, Muted Voices: The Employment of Rural Women in Saskatchewan Forestry and Agri-Food Industries" provided funding for this work. I am grateful to Maureen Reed and Diane Martz who provided assistance with project design and field work. The paper also benefited from the helpful suggestions of two anonymous readers, Evelyn Peters, Despina Iliopoulou, and Charlotte Yates. All errors in the manuscript are my own.
Article
This paper challenges the long-standing view that aboriginal people were bystanders in the economic development and industrialization of British Columbia outside, and after, the fur trade. From the establishment of the Colony of Vancouver Island in 1849, through Confederation in 1871 and to the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, aboriginal people comprised the majority of the population in present-day British Columbia, and the majority of the workforce in agriculture, fishing, trapping and the burgeoning primary industries.
Article
American Indians experienced rapid social and economic changes in the period 1900-20. In Puget Sound, a pattern of industrialization, migration, and urbanization can be mapped for this period using census schedules, company payrolls, reports of local officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and oral history. A majority of Puget Sound Indians lived and worked off-reservation by 1900, and there was an exchange of people between reservations, several distinctly Indian off-reservation settlements, and Indian households in larger towns and cities.
Article
Following a few introductory comments on the concept ‘subculture’ and the likelihood of universally similar responses to the industrialization experience, some generalizations are offered here about a dockworker subculture and the conditions that create it. The generalizations are in the form of propositions, not operational hypotheses—certainly not verified generalizations. They are based primarily on written sources, though the author has conducted interviews in San Francisco and Karachi. In conclusion the problems involved in making this type of cross-culture, cross-time proposition into a verifiable hypothesis are briefly suggested.