Dianne St. Jean
Valemount resident John Grogan with the official Provincial Proclamation declaring July 27, 2018 as “Ginger Goodwin Day”.
Valemount resident John Grogan with the official Provincial Proclamation declaring July 27, 2018 as “Ginger Goodwin Day”.

Valemount resident secures Provincial Proclamation in honour of Ginger Goodwin

Many of us are aware of the horrendous working conditions labourers were subjected to up to and within the last century, but not many know about the individuals who struggled to have those conditions improved.

Albert “Ginger” Goodwin is a name that should be familiar to many, but probably isn’t, and local resident John Grogan believes that this needed to be changed.

Grogan began a writing campaign early this year asking the provincial government to consider an official acknowledgement of labour activist Ginger Goodwin, and was ultimately successful in securing a Provincial Proclamation.

As a result, July 27, 2018 will be known as “Ginger Goodwin Day” in British Columbia.

Now for some facts.

Albert Goodwin, known as “Ginger” because of his red hair, was a migrant labourer from England, arriving on Vancouver Island in 1910. He worked as a coal miner in the Cumberland mines, experiencing the rough working conditions firsthand, eventually becoming a voice for workers’ rights, helping to organize and promote the role of trade unions.

His death at age 31 in 1918, simply recorded as ‘untimely’ with no official cause, is thought by some to have been murder, since it occurred under highly controversial circumstances.

Goodwin’s untimely demise however, sparked off Canada’s first General Strike in Vancouver.

Signs along part of Vancouver Island’s Highway 19 that passes through Cumberland had named the section ‘Ginger Goodwin Way’ in the 1990s, but the signs were taken down on Labour Day of 2001. This year that same stretch was rededicated to Goodwin’s memory.

Grogan’s request to the government included a letter to the Honourable Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, in which he wrote, “I believe that a function of government is to remind its constituents of our history including the sacrifices and challenges faced by those who came before us.”

Grogan also sent a copy of the correspondence to MLA Shirley Bond, who thanked him for presenting the story, “…certainly one that played a role in shaping British Columbia.”

Grogan received word from Minister Bains informing him of his success in obtaining the proclamation.

He also received a copy of the official Provincial Proclamation.