Ships and Memories: Merchant Seafarers in Canada's Age of Steam

By Eric W. Sager | Go to book overview

10
UNION

The Canadian Seamen's Union was formed in 1936 among workers on the Great Lakes. During the 1940s, this union organized large numbers of deep-sea workers in Canadian ships. It was one of the most remarkable unions in Canadian labour history. Its story has been told before, and there is no need to repeat what Jim Green and John Stanton have already told us in their books.

This union remains controversial: deeply loved by some, castigated by others, forgotten by few. A clear historical perspective is difficult to achieve.

Some of the clearest insights remain with the former seafarers themselves. Jim Green believed this, and that is why, collaborating with former members of the union, he wrote the most useful book on this subject. The memory of participants is, of course, fallible. But this is no reason to ignore their memory. For one thing, nobody is more aware of the fallibility of memory, and nobody is better able to criticize it, than the participants themselves.

You know, your biggest job, I think, is cross-checking all the shit you get from different guys. Because there's a lot of

-139-

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