Friday, September 24, 2010

The Communist Town Council from Blairmore, Alberta


By Kyle Randolph

Harvey Murphy addresses a May Day
gathering at a picnic ground west of Natal, BC, 1930s
 On 14 February 1933, the citizens of Blairmore, Alberta, elected a Communist town council; this so-called Red administration remained in power until 1936. Best known for their seemingly outrageous actions, the council exists within current historiography as either the result of protracted depression or an example of the success experienced by the Communist Party of Canada during this period.

This thesis will challenge both arguments, demonstrating that a series of social, economic, and political experiences resulted in the election of known Communists being socially permissible by 1933. It will be demonstrated that the agenda of council was not strictly Communist, rather it represented a balance between radical and populist programs, thus enabling council to challenge capitalist society while providing a practical response to the local effects of the Depression. The deterioration of this balance by 1936, coupled with a series of scandals, was resultant in the council's electoral downfall.

Read Kyle's Thesis HERE.
Lethbridge even had a “Red Square”. This was the name given to a meeting place between 1st and 2nd Avenue South behind the Arlington Hotel (later Bridge Inn). Protest meetings and speeches were held here. The workers had marches. Regular May Day meetings were held. This photograph  shows one of these meetings in "Red Square" in the 1930s.

Also read The Cold War and Working Class Politics in the Coal Mining Communities of the Crowsnest Pass, 1945-1958 and Doctorate student explores communist roots of the Pass.

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