Although James Ryan disappeared from the public record and Hamilton’s Nine-Hour League was unsuccessful in its push for the universal nine-hour work day, ultimately, the Nine-Hour League can be remembered for pushing the fight for fairness further. In the words of Great Western Railway worker and poet Alexander Wingfield ‘The Nine-Hour Pioneers’:
strove to smooth the path of toil/And help your fellow men
Hamilton’s Nine-Hour League was instrumental in laying the foundation for future movements and legislation that created lasting change. From the election of the worker-supported Henry B. Witton to the Canadian Parliament to the creation of the Canadian Labour Union, the effects of the Nine-Hour League became part of the fabric of Canada’s burgeoning labour movement. This legacy is seen in contemporary labour movements from across Canada, like the Canadian Labour Congress, and it is honoured in the ongoing struggles for workers’ rights in Canada and around the world.
For more stories of historic and contemporary workers’ struggles and successes, visit the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre in Hamilton, Ontario.