Fighting for Dignity: The Ginger Goodwin Story


206 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-894000-06-4
DDC 331.88'122334'092




Reviewed by Jonathan Anuik

Jonathan Anuik is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History and
president of the HGSC at the University of Saskatchewan.


The pages of Canadian and American labour history contain a wealth of
information concerning the formation of worker identity and class
consciousness. This identity and consciousness is most clearly
articulated through the depictions of strikes and histories of union
organizing. Historians, legal analysts, and biographers have confined
their researches to the history of blue-collar work in the factory, the
mines, and within the community. Fighting for Dignity intersects
history, law, and biography through the figure of labour leader Ginger

Goodwin, born in 1887 in Treeton, in present-day South Yorkshire,
United Kingdom, entered the world of coal mining immediately. He was
witness to the life circumstances of labourers caught in a routine of
work and survival against unsanitary living conditions, strikes, and
employer retaliation. As an adult, he noted the systemic and blatant
inequities facing workers and sought to develop strategic measures to
force change.

At the age of 19, Goodwin sailed to North America, where he became an
active proponent of workers’ rights through his involvement with
labour unions in Cape Breton and later British Columbia. In British
Columbia, he joined the Socialist Party of Canada and advocated party
membership as the only suitable means for labourers to obtain a voice.
His decision to avoid serving in the Canadian Armed Forces in World War
I led to his tragic murder in 1918.

Fighting for Dignity is a useful contribution to a well-developed field
of inquiry that will appeal historians, biographers, and legal analysts.
Unfortunately, women and racial minorities do not enter the narrative.


Stonebanks, Roger., “Fighting for Dignity: The Ginger Goodwin Story,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 25, 2024,