As a retired educator, C.M. Klyne has always been interested in historical fiction and storytelling.
So he decided to write a book about the Winnipeg General Strike, including the Spanish influenza that was ravaging households. Klyne uses the personalities of the characters he has created to lead us through the streets of Winnipeg so many years ago, for another take on this famous moment in Winnipeg's history.
SCENE asked Klyne to paint a 'day in the life' of one of his characters:
The Silent March by C.M. Klyne (Friesen)
The streets of Winnipeg were in tumult in May of 1919, during the huge General Strike. As a writer for the Western Labour News, Kathleen Johns is one of the few people whose workload grows during the strike.
Her newspaper (a Union organ), changes from weekly, to daily production, in order to provide clarity to strikers and citizens. The Committee of One Thousand - a group of industrial, business and politically elite Winnipeggers - is determined that total surrender of strikers and strike leaders - many of whom are European immigrants, is the ONLY acceptable resolution.
In order to combat the Committee's demonizing of the strikers, Kathleen's daily articles must constantly remind everyone of the reasons for the strike and why change is crucial.
The animosity increases as tempers flare. Daily arrests by the newly-formed "Special Police force" lead to threats and violence. With 35,000 strikers milling about the streets and demonstrating, people are jostled, provoked, knocked down and trampled.
Fights are common and are exploited by the Committee of One Thousand. They challenge that the strike is illegal and the strike leaders, whom they believe to be Communists, are plotting to overthrow the government. Kathleen herself carries a card issued by the strike leaders, protecting her from harassment by striking workers. Those without permits have little protection.
C.M. Klyne, author of The Silent March(Pam's Photo in Ashern)
Kathleen knows it is only a matter of time before a more serious clash occurs. The strike would ripen to bursting point and some interaction would set the forces of destruction into irrevocable motion.
It might be as simple as a wrong word spoken or written. It might be a significant citizen being injured. Kathleen's articles MUST ensure it does not originate from the Union side! This would invite the Committee to destroy the strikers - with malicious glee...C.M. Kyne launches The Silent March on Sunday May 26 at 2 p.m., McNally Robinson in the Atrium.