Black workers were excluded from the emerging union movement and tended to be restricted to the lowest status, lowest pay and most servile jobs. The situation of Black workers could be summed up in the old adage: "last hired, first fired."

Despite the odds, Black men and women contributed in a variety of occupations.
Black workers were excluded from the emerging union movement and tended to be restricted to the lowest status, lowest pay and most servile jobs. The situation of Black workers could be summed up in the old adage: "last hired, first fired."

Despite the odds, Black men and women contributed in a variety of occupations.

© 2007 Workers Arts and Heritage Centre - All Rights Reserved

Aylmer Canning Factory

Black women worked at the Aylmer Canning Factory, Amherstburg, Ontario, 1936.

Marsh Collection Society

© Marsh Collection Society


W.A. Barnes

W.A. Barnes in his barbershop, Cayuga, Ontario, 1917.

Betty Browne Collection, St. Catharines Museum

© St. Catharines Museum


Farmers Gathering Bundles of Wheat

Farmers gathering bundles of wheat into shocks to be picked up for threshing, believed near New Liskeard, Ontario.

Elizabeth McClure Burns Collection, The Grey Roots Archival Collection, Owen Sound, Ontario

© Elizabeth McClure Burns Collection, The Grey Roots Archival Collection, Owen Sound, Ontario


Black Construction Workers

Black construction workers on Wilson Avenue, Toronto, Ontario.

City of Toronto Archives

© City of Toronto Archives


Railroad Workers

Railroad workers repairing the tracks, North Buxton, Ontario.

Buxton National Historic Site and Museum

© Buxton National Historic Site and Museum


Lewella Wandle

A social worker from Stratford, Ontario, was one of the early women to enter this profession when she went to work for the Home Service Association, a Black social welfare agency in Toronto in the 1930s.

Bernice Johnson

© Bernice Johnson


James Ephraim

James Ephraim came from British Guiana c. 1912 with a group of Caribbean men and worked on the construction of the trans-Canada railway across the country. Photo taken c. 1930s.

Maxine Carter

© Maxine Carter


Advertisements

Black businesses across Ontario advertised in the Canadian Observer, a Black newspaper in Toronto, 1914-19.

Canadian Observer, September 4, 1915
1915-09-04
© Canadian Observer


Stephen's Advanced Shoemaking and Repairing Emporium

Stephen's Advanced Shoemaking and Repairing Emporium Toronto, Ontario.

Canadian Observer, September 4, 1915

© Canadian Observer


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • explain how Canada’s identity has been and continues to be shaped by its global participation;
  • comment on the political and social context of African Canadians between 1900 and World War II;
  • discuss civil rights of African Canadians from 1960 to now.

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