New Acquisition to The Thomas Bouckley Collection – Oshawa Strike

This post comes to us from the desk of Sonya Jones, Associate Curator and Curator of the Thomas Bouckley Collection. The Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG) in Oshawa, Ontario holds the Thomas Bouckley Collection. The Collection was donated to the RMG by the late Thomas Bouckley, amateur historian and collector of Oshawa’s history. The entire computerized collection comprises over 2,300 historical photographs of Oshawa and about 100 works are featured in three exhibitions per year. 

Earlier this year, the Thomas Bouckley Collection received a donation of images that capture the General Motors Strike of 1937. The gift, from the McGrath family, includes 57 images, 37 of which depict the famous strike. Prior to this wonderful addition to the collection, there were only 3 images of the strike in the Thomas Bouckley Collection.

General Motors Strike, 1937

General Motors Strike, 1937

What’s interesting about these images is that they capture candid moments between strikers on the picket line. They weren’t just taken to document the strike but seem to be snap shots between friends, giving a general sense of what the mood was like during this time.

On April 8, 1937, 3,700 GM workers punched in as usual and then walked off the job. They didn’t return to the assembly lines until a settlement was struck two weeks later.

For a little background as to why the strike began, an interview with Arthur Shultz, who had worked on the assembly lines in GM from 1922–1937, describes the conditions of the plant and community prior to the 1937 strike:

“Work on the assembly lines was hell, speed ups, no rest periods, afraid to complain for fear of permanent layoff.  The pay was good while you worked but yearly earnings were in the $600 range.  Work was only available for six to seven months of the year and many employees were forced to apply for City welfare.” – Arthur Schultz, 1951

Female Employees, General Motors Strike, 1937

Female Employees, General Motors Strike, 1937

The Toronto Star reports the strike as an orderly event:

 “A stand-up strike not a sit-down strike” with 260 women joining the men on the picket line. It begins quietly with workers first filing into work as usual at 7 a.m. and then five minutes later, just as peacefully, exiting the plant. Simultaneously, 400 pickets are flung up around the works with pre-arranged precision” – Toronto Star, April 8, 1937

While these photographs depict an important event in Oshawa’s history, the smiling faces and sociable atmosphere give it a human side.

 

Top image: General Motors Strike, 1937

RMG Fridays August: Summer Sounds

Join us on Friday August 7th from 7-10pm! The night features the sounds of Goodnight Sunrise and locals Ivory Park. Father and son duo Matthew and Joseph Catalano will join us in Gallery A with Arbor Nimbus. Learn more about the upcoming Durham Festival.

For more information:
Arbor Nimbus Joseph Catalano and Matthew Catalano –https://rmg.on.ca/gallery-a-mat-jo-catalano.php
Goodnight Sunrise – https://www.facebook.com/gnsrband
Ivory Park – https://www.facebook.com/ivoryparkband

On the first Friday of the month, join the RMG in celebrating local talent. The gallery buzzes with live musical performances, interactive art experiences, open gallery spaces, social mingling and more. Suitable for music lovers, youth, families, date nights, and culture-vultures.

Free to attend | 7-10pm | Cash Bar | All ages welcome.

Follow the twitter feed at #RMGFridays!

The RMG is grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their support of this programming.

Meet Carla Sinclair – the RMG’s new Manager of Community and Volunteer Development

Carla Sinclair is the RMG’s new Manager of Community and Volunteer Development. She has pursued her love of storytelling to build community across Canada working in radio, television and film. Stop by and welcome Carla to the RMG team!

RMG: What were you up to before the RMG?

Carla: I have been partner at Empty Cup Media for the past 7 years where I spent my time as a cinematographer, editor and graphic designer. My greatest accomplishment to date is having directed and produced my first independent feature documentary, a project that spanned 9 years!

RMG: What drew you to the museum sector?

Carla: Having worked with the RMG on a number of video projects, I came to know the inspired team that run this incredible space. The sense of community fostered here compelled me to be a voice in Oshawa’s expanding creative culture.

RMG: What is your favourite museum?

Carla: The Old Library of Trinity College Dublin. The architecture alone captivated my attention, but walking through the ancient volumes housed in this building, including the Book of Kells, was absolutely magical.

RMG: What is your first memory of art?

Carla: It was on a school trip to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, N.B. I vividly recall standing in front of Savador Dali’s Santiago El Grande, mesmerized. I remember being struck by the size, beauty and majesty of the enchanting painting.

RMG: What is the one thing you most want to share with people about the RMG?

Carla: RMG Fridays! If you haven’t already been out to this awesome monthly event, I encourage you to come soon. Bands, artist talks and local partnerships create an atmosphere unlike any other you will find in Oshawa. I love the crowd it attracts and it’s accessible, creative hub for entertainment, education and networking. I’m thrilled that RMG Fridays will now include short film screenings in the Lookout. Enjoy popcorn and experience Friday Film Features!

Introducing Friday Film Features

NEW! RMG Fridays will soon be screening short films!

Introducing Friday Film Features, a community initiative telling the stories that live in the creative minds of our local filmmakers.

We invite you to submit short narrative, experimental, animation or documentary films (under 15 minutes) to be screened in the Lookout during RMG Fridays. Fall Deadline: 2 November.

Find out more at https://rmg.on.ca/friday-film-features.php