Group of workersIn Front Of
Mountain Mines and Cariboo Gold Quartz Mining Company were faced with
strikes. There were two major strikes causing setbacks in the development
and exploration of the mines. Both Island Mountain Mine and Cariboo
Gold Quartz Mine went through financial hardship when the miners decided
to strike, stopping work in order to demand
Group of miners at work. wpH333
mining strike was started by the miners of Island
Mountain Mine which closed the mine down from May 15 to August 1, 1937,
during a recession. The issue was originally
thought to be over seniority, but the real issue was union
recognition for the mining employees, pursued on their behalf by the
American based Committee for Industrial Organization (C.I.O.).
of Island Mountain Mine... struck last week and preparations were
made to close the mine indefinitely... The 118 strikers seek higher
wages and recognition of the International Union of Mine, Mill and
Workers in Powerhouse At
Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine. wpH453
fired when they walked off their jobs. Island Mountain Mines closed
down, much to the shock of the strikers. The Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine
followed suit, closing operations May 25 to July 15. In turn, the Cariboo
Gold Quartz Company refused to deal with the C.I.O. or any representatives
from outside unions.
Kitchen, Maintenance Personel
At Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine. wpH327
the miners were getting angry and bitter over the dispute, with the
strike almost slowing the economy of Wells to a standstill. Little strike
pay was available, and the strike caused great financial hardship for
many families who were forced to seek employment elsewhere or ask for
credit to be extended to them from the local merchants.
Employed At Island Mountain
Mine With Reline Crew (Back L To R) ?, Eric Johnson, Dave Ogren,
Tom Walker, Sandy Dickie, (Front Row L To R ) Dave ?, Sandy Mcdermid.
June 26, 1937 issue of the Toronto Financial Post, an article titled
Early Settlement Is Seen In Cariboo Strike Areas stated "R.
R. Rose, managing director, (of Cariboo Gold Quartz - ed. note) told
the men that the mine would be reopened if lOO men would sign an agreement
to return to work."
within a few hours time 70 signatures were obtained. Work finally resumed
by July 15, 1937, with about half the crew. The strike was lost, and
basically over by the end of July with very little accomplished. By
August, the mines were once again fully operational. There were hard
feelings between supporters of the C.I.O. and the people who just wanted
to work. Howard Harris, a resident of Barkerville during the strike,
mentioned in a conversation with Sandy Mather in March, 1983 "...there
was a terrible lot of bitterness afterwards... Yes, it upset that town
for quite a while..." The financial loss to the Wells' miners was estimated
at $104,000. The mines increased production by the mid 1940s as they
were encouraged to do so by the government to provide cash to purchase
arms for the Allied cause from the U.S.A. since the Second World War
broke out in 19398.
J.Leonard, (Left), C.Keith,
(Centre) And A.Webster, (Right), From Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine.
best month of production in the history of the Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine
in February 1942, the fortunes of the mines rapidly dissolved. Wages
were frozen by government regulations and further hiring or mining development
was forbidden. Due to rising costs and low prices, the gold mining industry
struggled to make a profit. Both mines were affected once again by a
second strike in 1946. The Island Mountain Mines Annual Report in 1946
reported 147 strike days in total.
companies in Wells never did regain their former glory after the effects
of these strikes and the Second World War.
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