As a result of the Great Depression (1929-1939) the Government of Canada constructed a large number of 'relief camps' in order to house and utilize more than 170,000 unemployed young men. The camps were often located in remote areas across the country; conditions in the camps were often squalid and the rights of the men were extremely limited. For example, the men were paid very little, had limited access to medical supplies and were not allowed to vote in federal elections. As time wore on many men despaired that their situation would not improve without direct action fom the Government. As a result, on April 4th approximately 1600 men staged a walkout from their camps in British Columbia and two months later their leaders resolved to set them on a course to Ottawa, riding the railway, in order to present their demands to the Government directly.
Initially the government did not pay much heed to the trekkers, thinking that the expedition would disperse of its own accord once they reached the mountains. Nonetheless, the trek persevered and emerged from Alberta, making its way to Regina. The government then made the decision that the trek would need to be stopped as they feared that once the workers reached Winnipeg they might have the power to destabilize the government.
The trekkers stayed in Regina for about three weeks where they received significant support from the local population. On July 1st, Dominion Day, at a rally held in Market Square, the leaders of the trek were preparing to announce that the trek was effectively over and that the men would either be repatriated back to B.C. or to a relief camp of their choice. This announcement never came as the RCMP stormed the Square, clubbing the trekkers and firing tear gas into the crowd. The leaders of the trek were arrested but the ensuing riot claimed the lives of two people and injured 100 more.
A commission of inquiry investigating the riot was instituted by the Province of Saskatchewan soon after the riot. The Commission analyzed details of the trek, their grievances, their time in Vancouver, their travel to Regina, their stay in the city and the circumstances leading up to and including the riot. The records presented by this blog are a sample of those generated from the Riot Inquiry Commission.
To view Photographs, Telegrams, Testimonies or a list of the Casualties of the Riot please click on the appropriate link in the Pages column on the top right hand corner of the page.