The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
St. Catharines Journal (St. Catharines, ON), June 12, 1861

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St. Catharines, Monday, June 10 - Ship-Carpenters Strike - A few months since an organization call "The Welland Canal Ship Carpenters and Caulkers Union," was formed in this town, all the hands employed on the line of canal becoming members. They demanded an increase of wages and pay every Saturday night. At the time the yards were all "crowded" with work, and the masters were compelled to submit to the demand of the Society; but it was done with ill grace, and with a determination to make an effort to break up the Union as soon as circumstances would permit.

The employers felt that the men had taken an undue advantage, and very naturally hurried forward the work on hand, so as to be in a position to retaliate. The time has now come, and we believe it is the intention to close all the ship yards on the canal during this present week. Two of them (Messrs. Donaldson & Andrews, at Port Dalhousie, and the Messrs. Abbey's, at Port Robinson) have already discharged every Union man, and will not employ any more men belonging to the Association.

Neither employers nor employees appear disposed to compromise or settle the dispute, and thus, through an ill-advised and unfortunate "strike" a large number of men will be thrown out of employment during the greater portion of the summer, and a vast amount of capital, which their labor would produce, will be lost to the country. There can be no doubt but that the men have had some cause for complaint, but the employers' engagements and duties have not been of the most easy kind.

At great inconvenience, and sometimes at a loss, they have kept men at work in their yards when they could have made more money by shutting them up. A little concession on both sides would probably have arranged the whole matter, but unfortunately neither seem disposed to yield the least, and thus the strike bids fair to be of long continuance. It is said, but with what truth we cannot say, that the ship-builders of Buffalo, Cleveland, and other lake cities, intend joining those of the Welland Canal in their opposition to the demands of the men; if so, we need not expect to see any more launches of vessels during 1861. The Society held a meeting on Saturday evening (June 8), but what they did we not learn.

Mr. Shickluna will discharge his men (those belonging to the Union) this week, and we understand Mr. Muir will follow his example next week. The war between the employers and men has now fairly commenced, and goodness knows where or when it will end. On Saturday, June 8, Mr. Shickluna refused to put men to work on a vessel in his dry dock, and five men who came from Oakville were induced to quit work on Friday (June 7), join the Society, have their passage money paid, and return home.

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June 12, 1861
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Richard Palmer
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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St. Catharines Journal (St. Catharines, ON), June 12, 1861