Thursday, March 24, 2011

The RCMP and the Estevan Miners Strike Reinterpreted

September, 1931: A Re-interpretation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Handling of the 1931 Estevan Strike and Riot

Steve Hewitt
Labour/Le Travail
Spring 1997

THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT has been a major boon to historians doing research on various aspects of Canada's past, in particular those investigating the security actions of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Documents, released under Access by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), allow for a more detailed and subtle portrayal of the activities of both workers and the police.

One example of the possibilities offered by this material are the previously restricted RCMP records on the 1931 Estevan strike and riot and what they have to say about the Mounted Police.

The importance of the records is two-fold: the material challenges previous historical work on Estevan by disputing the dominant interpretation of some of the most contentious events; and, even more significantly, the records question simplistic notions of the Mounted Police as a monolithic organization. In the case of the latter, many of the officers "on the ground" attempted to be balanced in their assessment of the reasons behind the strike and the course of action to be taken. In fact, some openly sympathized with the striking miners despite their own class and ethnic prejudices. Inevitably, however, in a hierarchical institution like the Mounted Police, they followed die orders of their superiors, a group which strongly espoused the anti-communist rhetoric of the RCMP'S political master, the Conservative government of R.B. Bennett.

The Estevan riot occurred on 29 September 1931. It was a particularly violent clash between armed members of die RCMP and striking miners, out of work since 8 September. The miners, wielding clubs and bricks, bore the brunt of die violence. Two of their number lay dead from gunshot wounds in die streets, while a third died later in a nearby hospital. Eight other miners were wounded by police bullets, as were several Estevan citizens. The dead were buried in a cemetery on the outskirts of nearby Bienfait.

Read more HERE.


  1. What's with the "die"?? It's not like you don't know how to spell "the".

  2. Now Canadain Mine Companies are killing indigenous people in south America