The Rise and Fall of the Toronto Typographical Union 1832-1972: A Case Study of Foreign Domination


397 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-5547-8




Reviewed by Gregory S. Kealey

Gregory S. Kealey was Associate Professor of History at Memorial University, St John's, Newfoundland.


The author, a professor in York University’s Social Science Division, here presents us with an expanded version of her 1972 University of Toronto doctoral thesis in political economy. After a brief but useful discussion of printers and printing, she launches into an extensive study of the nineteenth century development of the TTU. These sections of the book are by far the most successful and provide an excellent institutional history of one of Toronto’s most important unions. These segments are perhaps overly dependent on her major source, the minute books of the TTU, but are generally incisive and penetrating, albeit limited to a degree by a lack of the larger context. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of Part Four, which focusses on the twentieth century and is nothing but a lengthy jeremiad against American unions. All weaknesses, difficulties, and failures of the TTU are apparently attributable to international unionism. While balanced criticism is indeed called for, the TTU faced problems which went far beyond Colorado Springs. Despite the book’s polemical thrust, there is much excellent material here, including the fullest discussion to date of the great Toronto newspaper strike of 1964-1971. Here too, however, this reviewer finds it almost incredible that the TTU is presented as a villain equal in infamy to the Toronto newspaper publishers. But then again the Star, too, is nationalistic!


Zerker, Sally F., “The Rise and Fall of the Toronto Typographical Union 1832-1972: A Case Study of Foreign Domination,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 16, 2024,