New Star Blogs

Soviet Princeton authors to paint Vancouver Island red


Soviet Princeton Vancouver Island tour posterRead­ers of Van­cou­ver & Island (and Gabri­ola), unite: the authors of Soviet Prince­ton: Slim Evans and the 1932–33 Min­ers’ Strike will soon be cross­ing the Sal­ish Sea (in a union-crewed ferry) to share with you the story of anti-Communist hys­te­ria in Depression-era BC.

Jon Bartlett and Rika Rueb­saat will share pho­tos, talk about the incred­i­ble events depicted in the book — beat­ings, kid­nap­pings, burn­ing crosses, police vio­lence against strik­ing min­ers, all occa­sioned by coal min­ers sim­ply demand­ing that the mine own­ers ful­fill their promises — and likely sing a few tunes from the era. (As well as the authors, the pair are musi­col­o­gists and folk singers). You can check out Jon and Rika’s web­site for sam­ples of their songs, or read their Van­cou­ver Sun inter­view about Soviet Prince­ton. Dates and loca­tions as follows:

Fri­day, Jan 22nd
Cum­ber­land: Cum­ber­land Museum & Archives2680 Dun­smuir Ave, 6:00 pm

Sun­day, Jan. 24th
Gabri­ola Island: Gabri­ola Museum, 505 South Rd, after the AGM, which starts at 2:00 pm

Mon­day, Jan. 25th
Vic­to­ria: Camo­sun Col­lege, Lans­downe Cam­pus,  Wilna Thomas Build­ing Rm. 226, 12:30 pm

Mon­day, Jan. 25th
Nanaimo: Nanaimo Pub­lic Library (Har­bourfront Branch), 90 Com­mer­cial St, 6:00 pm

Clean Sails finds safe harbour


clean sailsCham­pagne splashed across the bow of Clean Sails, Gus­tave Morin’s new vol­ume of type­writer poetry, dur­ing events in Toronto and Wind­sor recently. Its first taste of open water was dur­ing the Lit Bang! Fes­ti­val in Toronto, when Gus­tave launched Clean Sails on Decem­ber 4th and then per­formed a type­writer poetry demo and spoke with his design col­lab­o­ra­tor Mark Lal­ib­erte (of Carousel Mag­a­zine) the next day. The next week Gus­tave returned to South Detroit (a.k.a. The Sun Par­lour of Canada, a.k.a. Wind­sor) to launch Clean Sails into home waters at Phog Lounge, with a per­for­mance by the band Mex­i­can Knives. All events were by all accounts enter­tain­ing and well-attended; if, like us, you were sadly unable to be there, you can get a taste of Gustave’s IRL pres­ence by watch­ing Clean Sails the video, by Gus­tave and his filmic col­lab­o­ra­tor Jar­rod Fer­ris.


knull” from Clean Sails

At 160 pages Clean Sails is Gustave’s largest-yet poetry book (pos­si­bly the largest single-author type­writer poetry book in the world? Canada? the Sun Par­lour, surely…), but sev­eral of its con­stituent parts have trick­led into even larger vol­umes, includ­ing Type­writer Art: A Mod­ern Anthol­ogy by Bar­rie Tul­lett (read an excel­lent post about it with lots of great exam­ples here); The New Con­crete (Hay­ward, 2015), along­side over 90 other con­trib­u­tors (includ­ing Donato Mancini); and, as the lone Cana­dian entry, The Art of Type­writ­ing (Thames & Hud­son, 2015), which was recently reviewed in the New York Times.

And the rip­ples from all this splash are res­onat­ing: Gus­tave spoke about his work and con­crete poetry in gen­eral on CBC Windsor’s After­noon Drive (lis­ten here), and Pearl Pirie chose Clean Sails as one of BookThug’s Best Reads of 2015 (Author’s Edi­tion), and expanded on her appre­ci­a­tion of the book on her blog: “This bounces. This resists. This plays. This refuses its own lines and is a refus­nik to bomb-dropping, car-driving, colour­ing inside the lines.”

Set sail your­self by grab­bing a copy from your near­est retailer of fine books, or sum­mon it to your home port here.

TRADE NEWS: Brunswick Books to distribute, represent New Star Books effective May 1, 2016


Begin­ning May 1, 2016, New Star Books will be sold and dis­trib­uted to the book trade in Canada by Brunswick Books.

Toronto-based Brunswick dis­trib­utes and/or rep­re­sents among oth­ers Fer­n­wood Pub­lish­ing, Between the Lines, Monthly Review Press, Pluto Press, Inanna Pub­li­ca­tions, and Zed Books.

Lind­say Sharpe and Cheryl Steele will be our rep for Cen­tral and East­ern Canada and national accounts. Harold Shus­ter will be cov­er­ing the Prairies and North­ern Ontario out of Win­nipeg. Victoria-based Kim Goodliffe will be rep­re­sent­ing us in British Colum­bia and Alberta. You can find their con­tact infor­ma­tion here.

Brunswick will also be rep­re­sent­ing New Star’s list to uni­ver­sity and col­lege teach­ers across Canada.

The move rep­re­sents a home­com­ing of sorts. Back in the 1980s, New Star’s aca­d­e­mic sales rep was Errol Sharpe / Fer­n­wood Books, back before it became the pub­lish­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion jug­ger­naut that is today.

Pro­fuse thanks to Lit­DistCo, our dis­trib­u­tor since 2012, as well as the many out­stand­ing sales reps for the Lit­er­ary Press Group of Canada, who have pre­sented our books to the trade since 1994. Lit­DistCo will be accept­ing returns of New Star titles until April 30, 2016.

Don’t Mourn — Organize! Soviet Princeton Launch & Concert


Soviet Princeton launch posterJoin us, com­rades, to mark the 100th anniver­sary of the exe­cu­tion of Joe Hill and cel­e­brate the release of Soviet Prince­ton: Slim Evans and the 1932–33 Min­ers’ Strike.

The authors, Jon Bartlett and Rika Rueb­saat, are both folk music schol­ars and singers and will be per­form­ing a selec­tion of Joe Hill songs and tunes from the Prince­ton picket lines (to whet your whis­tle watch them at the Prince­ton Tra­di­tional Music Fes­ti­val). There will also be per­for­mances from Fraser Union and the Sol­i­dar­ity Notes Labour Choir.

Don’t Mourn — Orga­nize!
7:00 pm Sun­day Nov. 22nd
St. James Hall: 3214 W 10th Ave, Van­cou­ver
Admis­sion $5 (no one turned away)
Refresh­ments provided

Soviet Prince­ton is the first pub­lished account of the dra­matic events of one win­ter over eighty years ago, when Slim Evans trav­elled to Prince­ton to help strik­ing coal min­ers and encoun­tered con­certed, vio­lent oppo­si­tion from the police, the KKK, and local busi­ness leaders.

You can read an excerpt here and more about the book here, and don’t for­get to tell your friends and CSIS about your plans to attend by vis­it­ing the Face­book event page.

And finally, here’s Phil Ochs singing “The Bal­lad of Joe Hill.”

Don’t forget: Twenty Seven Stings launches Nov. 11


Twenty Seven Stings animated coverPlease join us on Remem­brance Day to launch Twenty Seven Stings, a suite of pow­er­fully under­stated poems by Julie Emer­son that engage with var­i­ous aspects of war through­out human his­tory. Twenty Seven Stings fea­tures numer­ous beau­ti­ful illus­tra­tions by Rox­anna Bikado­roff (none of which are ani­mated though, because it’s paper.)

The launch is at the Com­mer­cial St. Cafe at 3599 Com­mer­cial St. (at E. 20th Ave.) Doors open around 7 pm and Julie will read closer to 8 pm. Admis­sion is free. There will be refresh­ments (gratis) and books ($18; cash or credit card).

A lim­ited num­ber of book-buyers will also get a beeswax can­dle hand­made by Julie.

Face­book event is here; invite all and sundry!

You can lis­ten to Julie and Rox­anna dis­cuss the book and mythol­ogy and poetry and more in Happy Hour Sym­po­sium #2.

Bowering’s Victory Lap


Bowering in Kelowna croppedGeorge Bow­er­ing was born in the nude nearly 80 years ago. To cel­e­brate this mile­stone he’s launched a brand-spanking new web­site ( and will be tour­ing the coun­try in sup­port of the 4 books he’s pub­lish­ing this year — The World, I Guess (poetry), 10 Women (short fic­tion), Writ­ing the Okana­gan (anthol­ogy), and Attack of the Toga Gang (middle-school novel)  — a prodi­gious out­put for a man a quar­ter of his age. Hav­ing just wrapped up a jaunt around the Okana­gan (includ­ing at Mosaic books in Kelowna, as seen above), his next engage­ment is part of the Van­cou­ver Writ­ers Fest:

George Bow­er­ing in Con­ver­sa­tion with Colin Browne

Tues­day, Oct. 20th, 6:30 — 7:15 pm. Stu­dio 1398 (on Granville Island)

$20  — Pur­chase tick­ets here. (& don’t let the event title fool you; this is “a party,” accord­ing to the VWF.)

There are also a num­ber of events at points fur­ther east before a big bash back home in Vancouver:

Octo­ber 25th, Ottawa
Fundraiser for the Al Purdy A-Frame Asso­ci­a­tion (details TK)

Octo­ber 26th, Ottawa Writ­ers Fes­ti­val
A Writ­ing Life: One on One with George Bow­er­ing
Christ Church Cathe­dral, 414 Sparks St., 12:00 pm.

Octo­ber 28th, Win­nipeg
An Evening with George Bow­er­ing (a Win­nipeg Inter­na­tional Writ­ers Fes­ti­val and McNally Robin­son joint)
Grant Park in the Atrium, 7:00 pm.

Octo­ber 29th, Win­nipeg
Archives & Poetry Sym­po­sium
George Bow­er­ing is the fea­tured speaker; oth­ers include Jean Baird (speak­ing on the Al Purdy A-Frame as a “liv­ing archive”), War­ren Car­iou, Den­nis Coo­ley, Bar­bara Romanik, and Shel­ley Sweeney.
Archives & Spe­cial Col­lec­tions, 3rd floor Eliz­a­beth Dafoe Library, Uni­ver­sity of Man­i­toba, 2:00 — 5:00 pm.

Novem­ber 7th, Van­cou­ver
George Bow­er­ing & Glen Lewis Dou­ble Birth­day Bash
West­ern Front, 303 E. 8th Ave. (Details TK)





PODCAST: Happy Hour Symposium #2: Julie Emerson & Roxanna Bikadoroff


Julie-and-RoxannaWe’re delighted to share with you the sec­ond episode of the Happy Hour Sym­posia, our new pod­cast series.

In this episode Julie Emer­son, author of Twenty Seven Stings, and Rox­anna Bikado­roff, its illus­tra­tor, dis­cuss the book, their respec­tive cre­ative processes, and the role of mythol­ogy in poetry and art.

You can lis­ten below, down­load the mp3 for later, or lis­ten on Sound­Cloud or iTunes.


Again, many thanks to the exceed­ingly help­ful gang at the Van­cou­ver Pub­lic Library’s Inspi­ra­tion Lab.
Pre­vi­ous episodes: HHS #1, ft. George Bow­er­ing and George Stanley

PODCAST: Happy Hour Symposium #1: Bowering & Stanley


Georges 01Wel­come to the Happy Hour Sym­posia, our new pod­cast series.

Happy Hour Sym­po­sium #1 fea­tures two accom­plished poets and long-time friends, George Bow­er­ing and George Stan­ley, read­ing from their lat­est works (The World, I Guess and North of Cal­i­for­nia St.) and con­vers­ing about The Muse, MFA pro­grams, the “A” and “B” teams in poetry, whether or not Robert Frost sucks, who’s the bet­ter poet, and much more.

You can lis­ten below, down­load the mp3 for later, or lis­ten on Sound­Cloud or iTunes.




Thanks to the excel­lent staff at the Van­cou­ver Pub­lic Library for use of their Inspi­ra­tion Lab, and to Amy van Wyk, our sum­mer intern, for get­ting this project off the ground. Forth­com­ing episodes will fea­ture Julie Emer­son & Rox­anna Bikado­roff, Louis Cabri & Donato Mancini, Andrew Struthers, and many more.

Slim Evans Comes to Princeton: An excerpt from Soviet Princeton


Here’s an excerpt from Soviet Prince­ton: Slim Evans and the 1932–33 Min­ers’ Strike, by Jon Bartlett and Rika Rueb­saat, forth­com­ing in November.

Chap­ter Two: Slim Evans Comes to Princeton

How­ever geo­graph­i­cally iso­lated Prince­ton may have been in 1932, its cit­i­zens were keenly aware of events unfold­ing in the larger world. This was the case for the work­ers no less so than the own­ers and shop­keep­ers — Princeton’s min­ers were well attuned to the winds of change in the atmos­phere, and the increas­ing atten­tion paid to social­ism. Many work­ers knew of the Indus­trial Work­ers of the World (com­monly known in the Pacific North­west as the Wob­blies), the Com­mu­nist Party, the Work­ers’ Unity League, and other orga­ni­za­tions spring­ing up in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try and the world. These orga­ni­za­tions were being estab­lished to look out for the inter­ests of work­ing peo­ple caught up in the Depres­sion and lead the masses to a bet­ter future. Many min­ers in Prince­ton were more than ready to throw them­selves into the project of build­ing a new world around the needs of the work­ing class.

And so, in the spring of 1932, when the own­ers of the Tulameen mine demanded that the pre­vi­ous year’s “tem­po­rary” wage roll­back be con­tin­ued into the com­ing year, some Tulameen min­ers, who belonged to no union, took it upon them­selves to invite some­one from the coast to help them in their strug­gle with the boss. In response to their invi­ta­tion the Work­ers’ Unity League dis­patched Slim Evans. On Sep­tem­ber 13, Evans for the first time addressed a group of Tulameen miners.

* * *

Slim Evans on the cover of Unity

Arthur Her­bert Evans, or “Slim” Evans as he became known, was an inspir­ing speaker, an inde­fati­ga­ble union orga­nizer, and a com­mu­nist — though he denied being a capital-C Com­mu­nist, i.e., a mem­ber of the Com­mu­nist Party of Canada, since that was ille­gal.i His biog­ra­phy mir­rors the polit­i­cal his­tory of west­ern North America.

Evans was born in April 1890 and raised in Toronto, where after leav­ing school at the age of thir­teen he learned the carpenter’s trade. He left Ontario in 1911 as a jour­ney­man car­pen­ter and headed for Win­nipeg to look for work. After a few months in Man­i­toba and Saskatchewan, in Decem­ber of that year he headed for Min­neapo­lis, joined the Indus­trial Work­ers of the World, and was jailed for the first time.ii

Munic­i­pal offi­cials in the United States had begun using var­i­ous pub­lic order laws to shut down labour orga­niz­ers. The Wob­blies took up this strug­gle and insisted upon their rights of asso­ci­a­tion and free speech by orga­niz­ing a series of “free-speech fights.” Slim Evans was one of many Wob­blies arrested and impris­oned for their roles in these protests.

In 1913 he trav­elled to Lud­low, Mass­a­chu­setts, to take part in a min­ers’ strike. That dis­pute esca­lated into the famous Lud­low Mas­sacre.iii Evans was him­self wounded by machine-gun fire dur­ing the attack. After a stay in the hos­pi­tal he trav­elled and worked through­out the north­west­ern states before com­ing back to Canada through Leth­bridge, prob­a­bly in 1916. He worked as a car­pen­ter in Cal­gary, the Crowsnest Pass area, and Trail, B.C., and was back in Alberta in time for the found­ing of the One Big Union (OBU) in 1919. The OBU was a rad­i­cal new union based on the prin­ci­pal of indus­trial orga­ni­za­tion, in con­trast to the union­iza­tion by craft as prac­ticed by the main­stream labour movement.

Almost imme­di­ately, Evans went to south­ern Alberta as orga­nizer for the Monarch local of the OBU in the Drumheller coal­field.iv There he was elected dis­trict sec­re­tary, and was soon front and cen­tre in the strug­gle between the OBU and the estab­lished United Mine Work­ers of Amer­ica (UMWA). The dis­pute was a bit­ter one, and was as much between the old, Gom­perite UMWA and the rad­i­cal new OBU as it was between the boss and the worker. In the course of the fight, Evans was accused of effec­tively tak­ing over the UMWA local. With the aid of UMWA offi­cials’ tes­ti­mony he was charged and con­victed of fraud­u­lent con­ver­sion for tak­ing con­trol of the local and its bank accounts, and in Jan­u­ary 1924 was sen­tenced to three years in prison. He was released after serv­ing four­teen months; he moved to Van­cou­ver and joined the Car­pen­ters’ Union.

Evans joined the Com­mu­nist Party of Canada (CPC) in 1926. In 1929 social­ist pro­gres­sives asso­ci­ated with the CPC founded the Work­ers’ Unity League (WUL) as a cen­tral labour orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to fight­ing for work­ers’ rights accord­ing to social­ist prin­ci­ples. At some point Evans joined the WUL, and when the min­ers’ call for help came in 1932 he was sent to Princeton.

He brought with him the orga­niz­ing tech­niques of the new rev­o­lu­tion­ary unions: cease­less strug­gle; fre­quent meet­ings of work­ers and sym­pa­thiz­ers, with no dis­tinc­tion drawn between employed and unem­ployed; and no union bureau­cracy — major deci­sions would all be “made from below.”

* * *

Evans arrived on Sep­tem­ber 13, 1932, and met with some of the Tulameen min­ers at a café. They told him they wanted to recover the 10 per­cent wage reduc­tion they had con­ceded in the spring of 1931, which they had been assured would be returned the fol­low­ing Sep­tem­ber. Sev­en­teen months later, the min­ers were now work­ing one day a week and earn­ing $4.50 a day. The own­ers of the Tulameen mine were reneg­ing on their promise.

But Evans advised the min­ers to delay their demand. The mine was pro­duc­ing lig­nite coal, which could not be stored — when the weather turned colder, demand would increase and the mine would get back up to speed; when they were work­ing six days a week they would be in a posi­tion of strength.

At an open-air meet­ing that night, Evans said the same thing to a mass rally of min­ers.v Because many of them were Yugoslavs who, feared depor­ta­tion, the meet­ing took place in the dark, in an empty lot in the Tun­nel Flats. Evans later wrote “It had got so dark that no one was rec­og­niz­able, so with noth­ing but a flash­light to read the notes with I started.” He had them all sit down on the grass, since he intended to speak for ninety min­utes or more. Soon, he told them, when win­ter came and the demand for coal increased, “I am pre­pared to orga­nize a local here of the Mine Work­ers Union of Canada.”vi

The author­i­ties were gear­ing up for trou­ble. The province’s attor­ney gen­eral, Robert Poo­ley, ordered thirty mem­bers of the B.C. Provin­cial Police (ten of them mounted) and ten RCMP offi­cers to Prince­ton in antic­i­pa­tion of a strike. “Evans is gain­ing a large fol­low­ing of min­ers and unem­ployed,” wrote one B.C.Provincial Police offi­cer. His supe­rior wrote to the RCMP for help, say­ing “This man seems to be estab­lish­ing him­self as quite a dan­ger, and if there is any way of remov­ing him it would help con­sid­er­ably.”vii It would cer­tainly help the mine owners.

The mean­ing of this large influx of police offi­cers to their small town was not lost on the min­ers, who under­stood that the full weight of the estab­lish­ment was mobi­liz­ing against them. Police tes­ti­mony at Evans’s sub­se­quent sec­tion 98 trial tes­ti­fied to the ten­sion and height­ened anx­i­ety caused by the large armed force, not just among work­ers but among many of the town’s mer­chants and professionals.

Evans, mean­while, had left Prince­ton. When he returned on 17 Novem­ber a period of intense activ­ity began, both by the min­ers and by the police. The min­ers held almost-daily meet­ingsviii attended by two to three hun­dred peo­ple and addressed by Evans. Min­ers signed up as mem­bers of the Mine Work­ers Union of Canada (MWUC), and the unem­ployed work­ers as mem­bers of the Cana­dian Labor Defense League (CLDL).

Police, as the Prince­ton Star noted omi­nously on 24 Novem­ber, “have been giv­ing the mat­ter con­sid­er­able atten­tion. They have attended all the pub­lic meet­ings, and checked up oth­er­wise on these activ­i­ties, and have kept a record. In con­nec­tion with the cam­paign and pos­si­bly in prepa­ra­tion for a pos­si­ble demon­stra­tion, dis­trict author­i­ties of the Provin­cial Police have been in the dis­trict this week.”

A meet­ing of min­ers on 21 Novem­ber was fol­lowed two days later by a “smoker,” a more social affair with music, danc­ing, and a series of wrestling and box­ing bouts. It was a rare oppor­tu­nity for work­ers and the unem­ployed to get together and share their expe­ri­ences over a beer.

This might also have been the impe­tus for the cre­ation of the Work­ers’ Cen­ter that was estab­lished some time before Christ­mas 1932 — fol­low­ing the incor­po­ra­tion of the union, it rented a hall from William H. Thomas, a Prince­ton old-timer who came as a car­pen­ter (he may have built the hall him­self) and was now a rancher. The hall was chris­tened the Work­ers’ Cen­ter, and housed meet­ings of min­ers and of the unem­ployed. It was also a place where work­ers could eat for a rea­son­able price, bed down if nec­es­sary, talk with fel­low work­ers, and gen­er­ally escape their social iso­la­tion amid oth­ers who lived sim­i­lar lives.ix The Work­ers Inter­na­tional Relief, a sis­ter orga­ni­za­tion of the Union and the Cana­dian Labor Defense League was pro­vid­ing food in Prince­ton to strik­ers and oth­ers, and it may well have func­tioned in this Center.

In the Prince­ton Star of 24 Novem­ber, Dave Tay­lor iden­ti­fied Evans as a crim­i­nal: “Police state that Mr. Evans was in 1924 sen­tenced to three years impris­on­ment for embez­zle­ment of funds of the Drumheller, Alberta, local of the United Mine Work­ers of Amer­ica. The amount involved was $2554.27 and action was brought by the Pres­i­dent of the Drumheller local.”

Evans’ response? “Let them give it all the pub­lic­ity they like,” he said. “The more they say about it the bet­ter I’ll like it…. I will place all the facts before the work­ers on Fri­day evening and let them be the jury.” He did just that: At a meet­ing the next day he drew atten­tion to the accu­sa­tion, and explained how the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Labor-affiliated UMWA had col­luded with the coal bosses to rid them­selves of a rev­o­lu­tion­ary oppo­nent. “After giv­ing his ver­sion of the inci­dent, he was voted ‘not guilty.’”x

This marked the begin­ning of the Prince­ton Star’s grow­ing inter­est in Evans and the labour unrest. Over the next ten months, Dave Tay­lor pub­lished near-weekly arti­cles and edi­to­ri­als on the mat­ter — between 23 Novem­ber 1932 and 28 Sep­tem­ber 1933 only two issues of the Star con­tained no arti­cles or edi­to­ri­als on Evans or the min­ers’ strug­gles. Tay­lor con­sis­tently por­trayed Prince­ton as threat­ened by out­side forces, with right-thinking, respon­si­ble cit­i­zensxi defend­ing their small indus­trial town from the alien, hate-filled agi­ta­tors ranged against them.

Through­out the month the heavy police pres­ence was the source of much ten­sion. Soon Princeton’s res­i­dents had had enough: At a mass pub­lic meet­ing, twenty-two mer­chants (out of approx­i­mately thirty in town) and sev­eral hun­dred work­ers and cit­i­zens signed a res­o­lu­tion call­ing for the with­drawal of “Pooley’s Hooli­gans” (as they were pop­u­larly known):

Whereas the impor­ta­tion of increas­ing num­bers of provin­cial Police, into the town of Prince­ton, is pri­mar­ily for the pur­pose of intim­i­dat­ing the min­ers who are desirous of orga­niz­ing into a union to improve their rot­ten work­ing con­di­tions and low wages rates, and whereas the imported provin­cial Police are noto­ri­ous strike break­ers and thugs and who have par­tic­i­pated in strike break­ing and thug­gery at Tim­ber­land and Fraser Mills strikes, and whereas in the opin­ions of work­ers and cit­i­zens of Prince­ton the impor­ta­tion of these provin­cial Police is wholly unnec­es­sary, and are to be used in the cause of vested inter­est to keep the work­ers under the iron heel of the coal barons of Prince­ton and not in the inter­est of worker-taxpayers, and whereas we the work­ers and cit­i­zens of Prince­ton believe that the tax-payers money squan­dered in this fash­ion could be put to bet­ter use in the way of rais­ing the sub­sis­tence allowance of the unem­ployed there­fore be it resolved that we the work­ers and cit­i­zens of Prince­ton, assem­bled this 25th day of Novem­ber, 1932 in mass meet­ing num­ber­ing ______ [ space left] do hereby demand the imme­di­ate with­drawal of all extra police at Prince­ton. Be it fur­ther resolved that the imme­di­ate ces­sa­tion of the use of Provin­cial or other Police in any and all wage dis­putes. Sub­mit­ted and passed, 25th day of Novem­ber 1932, Chair­man of Mass Meet­ing, Prince­ton, B.C.xii

* * *

Much has been writ­ten about Arthur “Slim” Evans and the events of his life, but lit­tle has been writ­ten about his two adver­saries in Prince­ton, Percy Gre­gory and Dave Taylor.

To start with the elder: Percy Gre­gory was born in Eng­land 8 June 1881, and came to Canada in 1908 at the age of twenty-seven. We know lit­tle of his train­ing and back­ground prior to his arrival in Prince­ton in or before 1918,xiii when he appears in the local direc­tory as a land sur­veyor. He had at that time a wife and three chil­dren: a five-year-old, a two-year-old, and a baby born that year.

Gre­gory seems to have played an impor­tant role in the orga­ni­za­tional life of Prince­ton. He appears in the 1919 direc­tory as a land sur­veyor and a fire insur­ance agent, and in 1920 as the sec­re­tary of the board of trade, a posi­tion he holds (except for one year) until at least 1927, when the board of trade list­ing dis­ap­pears. Either in that year or the next he becomes its pres­i­dent. In 1921 his descrip­tion includes “civil engi­neer,” and in 1927 he adds “real estate.” In 1926, accord­ing to local his­to­rian Lau­rie Cur­rie, he was active with Bill Ewart, the hard­ware mer­chant, in an unsuc­cess­ful cam­paign to incor­po­rate the town.xiv In 1928, in addi­tion to his sur­vey­ing, insur­ance, and real estate busi­ness, the direc­tory lists him as man­ager of British Columbian Prop­er­ties Ltd., described as “Own­ers of Prince­ton Town­site and Prince­ton min­ing prop­er­ties,” and as the man­ag­ing direc­tor of Prince­ton Water­works Co. Ltd.

Dave Tay­lor was born 4 Novem­ber 1904 in Tar­bolton, Dundee, Scot­land.xv His fam­ily emi­grated to Saskatchewan in 1909, and later moved to South Welling­ton, a coal min­ing com­mu­nity just south of Nanaimo on Van­cou­ver Island. Taylor’s father was in the gro­cery busi­ness. Tay­lor attended the Uni­ver­sity of British Colum­bia and joined the staff of the Ubyssey stu­dent news­pa­per., He worked there from Jan­u­ary 1924 to his grad­u­a­tion in 1926, ini­tially as a reporter and finally as sports edi­tor under editor-in-chief Earle Bir­ney. After a brief stint as a reporter for Vancouver’s Province, he arrived in Prince­ton in 1927 and began work for Joe Brown, the owner and edi­tor of the Prince­ton Star. Tay­lor was fired fol­low­ing a dis­pute with Brown in 1929, but he offered to buy the paper and Brown accepted. Tay­lor stayed as pro­pri­etor and edi­tor until 1938, when he left Prince­ton to go to the Far East.

While in Prince­ton he took an inter­est in all the sports activ­i­ties on offer, and played sax­o­phone in the town band. As the edi­tor of the town’s only paper he would have rubbed shoul­ders with Princeton’s “great and good,” and he may have appeared to his seniors as a bright young man who could be brought along. He became sec­re­tary of the board of trade for some years while Gre­gory was president.

As Prince­ton was unin­cor­po­rated at the time and so had no munic­i­pal gov­ern­ment, it was nat­ural that an infor­mal group of well-off and estab­lished senior men would be the ones with the loud­est voices. It may well have been that Tay­lor, hav­ing spent only five years in Prince­ton, was quick to absorb the pre­vail­ing wis­dom that Gre­gory and the other senior men imparted, wis­dom he then par­roted back to them in ever-more-inflammatory arti­cles that had the solid sup­port of the town’s worthies.

We know noth­ing of the rela­tion­ship between Tay­lor and Gre­gory in the event­ful and emo­tional months from Decem­ber 1932 to Sep­tem­ber 1933. But Tay­lor must have been keenly aware of the extent to which the but­ter on his daily bread depended upon Gre­gory: The Prince­ton Star was dom­i­nated by adver­tise­ments for Gregory’s many and var­i­ous enter­prises. While this rev­enue could be seen as implic­itly back­ing Taylor’s increas­ingly hos­tile views, Gre­gory was by no means con­fined to the shad­ows — he led the kid­nap­pers in 1933, while Tay­lor was appar­ently not present. Though there may have been dis­agree­ments on some issues (Gregory’s enthu­si­asm for incor­po­ra­tion, for exam­ple), on the ques­tion of red rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies and indus­trial strikes they stood as one.


i Evi­dence of Const. William Thom­son, Rex vs. Arthur Her­bert Evans, Adjourned Spring Assizes, Ver­non, 11 Sep­tem­ber 1933 before Mr. Jus­tice W.A. Mac­don­ald & Jury. Trial tran­script, p. 7.

ii Jean Evans Sheils and Ben Swankey, Work and Wages! Semi-Documentary Account of the Life and Times of Arthur H. (Slim) Evans (Van­cou­ver: Trade Union Research Bureau, 1977), 6.

iii The infa­mous Lud­low Mas­sacre, where the Col­orado National Guard and guards from the Col­orado Fuel & Iron Com­pany opened fire on a camp of strik­ing min­ers and their fam­i­lies, killing twenty-four peo­ple, includ­ing women and chil­dren.

iv Bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion from Rex vs. Gre­gory et al. Coal­mont, BC, 1 August 1933 before Nor­man Craigie, Jus­tice of the Peace. Evi­dence of the Com­plainant Arthur Her­bert Evans. Depart­ment of Attorney-General: n.p.

v By this point Evans was already being mon­i­tored by the local provin­cial con­sta­ble Thom­son, who had advised the owner of the hall not to rent it to Evans: Rex vs. Arthur Her­bert Evans, 5, 16.

vi Endi­cott, 154; Rex vs. Arthur Her­bert Evans, 39.

vii Endi­cott, 155.

viii Meet­ings were held 17 Novem­ber at the Scan­di­na­vian Hall; 18 Novem­ber, Orange Hall; 19 Novem­ber, I.O.O.F. Hall; 22 Novem­ber, Orange Hall; 23 Novem­ber, Princess The­atre (a smoker, at which Evans sang “Should I Ever Be a Sol­dier” and “The Inter­na­tionale”); 24 Novem­ber, I.O.O.F. Hall (a wed­ding, with Evans again singing “The Inter­na­tionale” and, with oth­ers, “The Cops’ll Have a Hell of a Time” and “They are Fill­ing the Town with Bulls”; 29 Novem­ber and 6 Decem­ber, Work­ers’ Cen­tre. All dates from Rex vs. Arthur Her­bert Evans, 5–13.

ix It should not be for­got­ten that the min­ers were not eth­ni­cally homoge­nous –– though min­ers of British extrac­tion were per­haps the largest group, they did not con­sti­tute a major­ity, and East­ern Euro­pean min­ers (mostly of Ger­man and Slavic ori­gins) speak­ing a vari­ety of lan­guages made up a large pro­por­tion of Prince­ton miners.

x Prince­ton Star, 1 Decem­ber 1932.

xi From var­i­ous issues of the Star: well informed men of rea­son­able views”; “think­ing cit­i­zens, devoted to the wel­fare of the com­mu­nity”; rea­son­ably minded peo­ple”; “broad-minded person(s)”; “ratio­nal cit­i­zens”; “the respon­si­ble cit­i­zens”; “sin­cere men.”

xii Cross exam­i­na­tion of Con­sta­ble William Thom­son in Rex vs. Arthur Her­bert Evans, 52–54.

xiii Much of this infor­ma­tion is drawn from the Direc­to­ries pub­lished in Van­cou­ver, mostly on a yearly basis until 1948, with the excep­tions of 1906–1909 and 1911–1917. The Gre­gory fam­ily is present in the 1921 Census.

xiv Lau­rie Cur­rie, Prince­ton 120 Years (Prince­ton, B.C.: Sim­ilka­meen Spot­light Pub­lish­ing, 1990), 79.

xv Infor­ma­tion about Tay­lor is drawn from Nicholas Mills, Once Upon a Time in Prince­ton (Chill­i­wack, B.C.: self-published, 2013).

Copy­right 2015 Jon Bartlett and Rika Rueb­saat. Please con­tact for repro­duc­tion requests.

The Party, I Guess :: George Bowering Book Launch


Bowering launch party posterPlease join us in East Van­cou­ver to cel­e­brate the launch of George Bow­er­ing’s new book of poetry, The World, I Guess.

The World, I Guess is the 36th book of poetry from Canada’s inau­gural Poet Lau­re­ate and 2x Gov­er­nor General’s Award win­ner; it demon­strates a com­mand of a broad poetic range, a catholic range of inter­ests, and echoes of a life­time of read­ing and learn­ing from Pound, Williams, Stan­ley, and others.

You can read Frank Davey’s review here.