MP-1985.74.1.13 | Workers at Hawksbury Mills lumber mill, Hawksbury, ON, about 1895

Workers at Hawksbury Mills lumber mill, Hawksbury, ON, about 1895
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1895, 19th century
Silver salts on paper - Gelatin silver process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Mr. John Mappin
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  architecture (335) , cooking (2) , industrial (22) , industry (91) , lumber mill (3) , lumbering (23) , mill (5) , Occupation (1110) , Photograph (77678) , work (389) , work (126)
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Keys to History

Outside the big cities, there were significant obstacles to the trades union movement. In smaller towns and villages the lower numbers of employees in each company hindered unionization.

The obvious influence of prominent local citizens, together with more personal worker-employee relations, also impeded the organization of such groups. In order to penetrate these « markets », the unions had to send in energetic organizers to promote the idea of unionization in order to improve local working conditions.

In far-flung one-industry communities such as mining and timber towns, for example, distance intensified company control over the daily life of the worker. Logging camps scattered in the forest were especially vulnerable. The big national and international trades unions hesitated to organize workers in these so-called «marginal» regions, even when they were asked to by the loggers.

  • What

    Workers pose for a group photograph in front of the buildings of the Hawkesbury Lumber Company, a large sawmill on the Ottawa River.

  • Where

    Hawkesbury is situated on the Ottawa River 95 kilometres west of Ottawa.

  • When

    The photograph dates from about 1895, some six years after the company was taken over by the heirs of John Hamilton, the last proprietor from the famous family of lumber merchants of the Ottawa Valley.

  • Who

    The Hawkesbury Lumber Company employed non-unionized labour for logging around the Rouge River and the Gatineau. It is clear from the photograph that some of the workers are only boys. .