Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Provincial Solidarities: A History of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Provincial Solidarities: A History of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour

Article excerpt

David Frank, Provincial Solidarities: A History of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour (Edmonton: University of Athabasca Press, 2013), 208 pp. Paper. $27.95. ISBN 978-1-9273-5623-4.

In Provincial Solidarities David Frank documents the 'stubborn struggles' of one of Canada's oldest provincial houses of labour - the New Brunswick Federation of Labour (NBFL). In doing so, he argues that despite its share of ups and downs, the NBFL has been crucial in protecting and promoting the rights of all working people in the province. As part of the Canadian Committee on Labour History's 'Working Canadians' series, the book aims to give working people a better sense of 'their' history. As such, it is primarily an institutional and public history. Nonetheless, those with a more scholarly interest in Canadian working-class histor y will find it both instructive and engaging.

For scholars conversant with that larger history, Provincial Solidarities largely covers familiar territory. The study opens with the founding meeting of twenty delegates in St John's Oddfellows Hall in September 1913 and ends with the 2011 convention in Moncton's Hotel Beauséjour where more than 260 delegates met to both 'Honour the Past' and 'Build the Future'. In the intervening pages Frank demonstrates that the NBFL grew slowly and unevenly (concentrating mostly on male-dominated craft unions in the province's English speaking cities) in the years before the 1940s. Nonetheless, it was successful in enacting vital social legislation to protect the welfare of workers and their families. Frank then moves on to examine how the NBFL consolidated the gains its members made during the post-war regime of industrial legality and the modernisation of the province under the Robichaud government's Equal Opportunity Program. …

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