A Square Deal for All and No Railroading: Historical Essays on Labour in Brandon


275 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography
ISBN 1-894000-03-X
DDC 331'.8'0971273




Reviewed by W.J.C. Cherwinski

W.J.C. Cherwinski is a professor of history and co-ordinator of Canadian
Studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He is the co-author of
Lectures in Canadian Labour and Working-Class History.


Brandon, Winnipeg, has long been recognized as the centre of labor
activity for Manitoba, and indeed for the entire prairie region. The
results have been documented and analyzed to such an extent that they
have spawned a veritable industry intent on examining the entrails of
that city’s movement. Alas, Brandon, a distant second as far as
Manitoba metropolitan areas go, has been dismissed as a backwater where
little of significance happened. Black and Mitchell, Brandon University
economics professor and university archivist respectively, attempt to
set the record straight in this book. In eight essays divided across
three sections—“Labour and Politics,” “Collective Bargaining and
Industrial Relations,” and “Shaping a Working-Class
Culture”—they attempt to show that Brandon labor was subject to and
participated in the main developments of labor radicalism and worker
control experienced in more mature urban centres elsewhere.

The work usefully fleshes out graduate student bibliographies, but like
many essay collections it lacks a unifying thrust. Moreover, A Square
Deal for All and No Railroading is marred by the authors’
preoccupation with proving Brandon’s significance relative to its
larger siblings. Showing how the character of this major prairie
agriculture service centre shaped the nature of Brandon’s labor
movement would have been a more profitable focus of inquiry.


Black, Errol, and Tom Mitchell., “A Square Deal for All and No Railroading: Historical Essays on Labour in Brandon,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 30, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/8676.