Goodwin, Ginger

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Goodwin, Ginger

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  • Goodwin, Albert

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Albert “Ginger” Goodwin was born on May 10, 1887, in Treeton, England, to Walter Goodwin, a coal miner, and Mary Ann Goodwin. Goodwin began working as a coal miner at the age of 11 or 12, working at the Cadeby mine near Doncaster, England, located across the River Don from the Denaby mine where his father worked. By 1901, at the age of 14, he was working as a pit corporal, and later worked as a pony driver. In 1902, he witnessed his first miners’ strike, the Bag Muck Strike, which led to Goodwin’s family being evicted from the company housing where they lived.

In 1906, Goodwin moved from England to Nova Scotia, Canada, and began working in the Dominion No. 2 Colliery, owned by the Dominion Coal Company. In 1909, he was involved another strike, this time by the United Mine Workers of America (UWMA) against Dominion Coal. In 1909 or 1910, he left Nova Scotia for British Columbia and worked in Crowsnest Pass, on the British Columbia-Alberta border. In the fall of 1910, he moved again, this time to Cumberland, British Columbia, working as a mule driver and miner in No. 5 mine. In Cumberland, Goodwin became active in the UMWA and the Socialist Party of Canada (SPC). Goodwin was active in the 1912-1914 Great Coal Mine Strike on Vancouver Island, advocating not just for workers’ rights, but also for socialist values and the abolition of the capitalist system. In 1914, he worked briefly as a party organizer for the SPC. When the strike ended in August 1914, work in the mines was scarce, especially for former strikers, and Goodwin was unemployed for a year. In December 1915 he briefly returned to work for the Crow’s Nest Pass Coal Company in what would be his last mining job.

Shortly thereafter, in 1916, Goodwin moved to Trail, located in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia, to work as a smelterman for the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company. In May of that year, he was chosen by the SPC as its candidate for the provincial elections in September and won 262 votes. During this time he also wrote political pieces for “The Western Clarion,” the official newspaper of the SPC, in which he expressed his anti-capitalist, anti-nationalist, and anti-military views. On December 18, 1916, he was elected secretary of the Trail Mill and Smeltermen’s Union, Local 105. A month later, in January 1917, he was elected vice-president (West Kootenay) of the British Columbia Federation of Labour. He also served as president of International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers, District 6, from April to September of 1917. In the fall of 1917 he was elected council president of the Trail Trades and Labour Council. On November 15, 1917, 1600 workers belonging to the Trail Mill and Smeltermen’s Union went on strike amidst disputes over the eight-hour workday.

At the same time as the strike was taking place, Goodwin was fighting against his conscription into World War I. Though his medical examination had initially placed him in Category D (temporarily unfit but subject to re-examination later), his status had been changed to Category A (combatant service) by November of 1917. Goodwin’s appeals against his conscription were rejected, and, in the spring of 1918, he fled to the Beaufort Mountains, west of Cumberland, to avoid military service. On July 27, 1918, he was shot and killed by Dominion Police Special Constable Dan Campbell, part of a federal police force responsible for locating draft dodgers. An inquest convened in the Cumberland Courthouse on July 31st, where a jury of six men found that Goodwin was killed by a bullet from Constable Campbell’s rifle while Campell was trying to arrest Goodwin. On the same day as the inquest, Dan Campbell was arrested and charged with manslaughter. A grand jury was called to determine to determine if there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial. On October 2nd, 1918, the grand jury decided not to indict.

Goodwin’s funeral, held on August 2nd, halted all work in the Cumberland mines and drew a large crowd. In memoriam, a 24-hour general strike in the city of Vancouver was called for by the Vancouver Trades and Labour Council and the Vancouver Metal Trades Council. A gravestone was erected for Goodwin in Cumberland in July 1937, commissioned by the Cumberland branch of the Canadian Labour Defence League.


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Prepared by NT (December 2015)


  • English



Stonebanks, Roger. Fighting for dignity: the Ginger Goodwin story, c2004.

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