Loggers' Plight, The
DESCRIPTION: Landon Ladd Ladd comes to Newfoundland, forms a logger union, and calls a loggers' strike; some are thrown in jail. Premier Smallwood insists Ladd leave and that a new union be formed with Maxwell Lane to lead the way and come to terms with A.N.D.
EARLIEST DATE: 1959 (Peacock)
KEYWORDS: strike lumbering labor-movement Canada
1959 - the [US-controlled] IWA (International Woodworkers of America [which split in 1987 into US and Canadian unions]) strikes the AND [Anglo-Newfoundland Development] company at Badger.
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Peacock, pp. 755-756, "The Loggers' Plight" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arthur Nicolle, "The Loggers' Plight" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
NOTES: The "on-ramp for K-12 school Web pages in Newfoundland and Labrador" site includes the background about the logging industry at Point Leamington and the strike.
"Throughout its history Point Leamington has been linked directly to the forest industry, and... many of the town's residents were -- and still are -- involved with logging camps and sawmill operations. Many men in the town and the surrounding communities worked at logging camps operated by... locals. The wood from these logging operations supplied the raw material needed to make newsprint by the AND Co. Paper Mill at Grand Falls.... Also, many of the locals operated sawmills within the Point Leamington area and employed many of the town's men.
"Over the years many men from Point Leamington were employed in the lumber woods and the seasonal trek to the logging camps in the fall and winter became a way of life.
"However, the wages and the living conditions in the early camps were far from adequate, and despite several attempts to improve those conditions, when the International Woodworkers of America (I.W.A.) arrived in the province in the late 1950's working conditions were still far from ideal.
"Although Landon Ladd's attempt at organizing the Nfld loggers into his union failed following the bitter strike of 1959, the Commission of Enquiry on the Logging Industry that followed in 1961 addressed the conditions of the camps, and this eventually led to improved conditions for loggers. Within a few years most of the recommendations of the Commission had been implemented, and many loggers attribute the improved working and living conditions in the logging camps (either directly or indirectly) to the I.W.A. strike of 1959."
Point Leamington, Grand Falls, and towns often mentioned in Newfoundland logging songs, like Badger -- originally Badger Brook -- and Bishops Falls are about 270 miles northwest of St John's on TC-1, not far from Bonavista Bay on the northeast coast.
The St. Mark's School site, in its biography of Newfoundland Premier Joseph Smallwood, states "On March 1959, a tragedy at the small town of Badger where striking loggers clashed with police officers. One member of the Newfoundland constabulary was clubbed and later died. Joey, who had opposed the strike and decertified the union a few days before, made him into a martyr. Joseph from then on consorted with corporate tycoons and devoted himself to large industrial endeavours like the Churchill Falls power project." St. Marks school is in King's Cove, Newfoundland, and serves grades K-12 for the northern section of the Bonavista Peninsula.
The IWA.CA site presents a view of the strike not in accord with the ballad. "In 1958, the Eastern Canadian Regional Council [of the IWA] organized loggers in Newfoundland and confronted the hostile government of Joey Smallwood who passed legislation decertifying and outlawing the IWA. In March 1959, battalions of RCMP marched on strikers in Badger, beating workers unconscious as women and children screamed. During the confrontation an officer was killed and a logger charged, later to be acquitted."
Peacock discusses the main characters of the ballad. "Landon Ladd is the local union representative sent in by the International Woodworkers of America to organize the loggers. Maxwell Lane is the head of the local union set up by Premier Smallwood to rid Newfoundland of alleged 'union gangsterism' emanating from the United States."
Peacock collected "The Loggers' Plight" at Rocky Harbour in July 1959. Rocky Harbour is on the northwest coast of Newfoundland. - BS
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