PA-124379 | Tim Buck

Tim Buck
June 1949, 20th century
This artefact belongs to : © National Archives of Canada
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Keys to History

Born in England, Tim Buck (1891-1973) emigrated to Canada in 1910. In 1929 he emerged from a struggle within the Communist Party of Canada (CPC) as general secretary, a post he held for 32 years. Under his leadership, the CPC closely followed the line set out by the Communist International (Comintern). Located in the Soviet Union, this body was under the influence of the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin (1879-1953).

The CPC was active in organizing blue-collar workers as well as the unemployed. In 1931, the Attorney General of Ontario laid charges of criminal sedition and seditious conspiracy against Buck and seven other Communists. Buck was convicted and spent two years in jail.

Until 1936, the CPC adopted a confrontational line towards other left-wing groups. When the Comintern switched to a policy calling for a united front against fascism, this also became the policy of Buck and the CPC.

  • What

    Tim Buck always claimed to have attended the 1921 meeting in a barn near Guelph, Ontario, at which the Communist Party of Canada (CPC) was formed.

  • Where

    The CPC had some success in organizing workers into the Workers' Unity League in the early 1930s. Its electoral victories were few, however, and limited to municipal politics.

  • When

    In 1936-39, civil war raged in Spain as right-wing groups rebelled against the government. The CPC recruited volunteers for the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, which fought on the loyalist side.

  • Who

    Women active in the CPC during the Depression included the labour organizers Becky Buhay (1896-1953) and Annie Buller Guralnick (1895-1973), and the poet Dorothy Livesay (1909-1996).