Jack Munro, a titan of the B.C. labour movement for half a century, died from cancer at the age of 82 on Friday morning.

Munro, who grew up in poverty in rural Alberta, began what would be a long career in the labour movement while working in a sawmill in Nelson, B.C.

A charismatic character known for his blunt but colourful language, he climbed the union ranks to lead the Industrial, Wood and Allied Workers in the province, and become vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Jack Monro

Legendary B.C. labour leader Jack Munro, in the middle, was honoured at a United Steelworkers awards dinner two years ago. He died at 82 following a battle with cancer. (Joshua Berson/United Steelworkers )

Munro was at the centre of a province-wide Solidarity movement that brought B.C. to the verge of a general strike in 1983, and then played a key role in settling the dispute with the provincial government.

Premier Christy Clark recalled Munro as a man with a generous heart who "never shied away from speaking his mind."

"Jack was driven in public life by one goal — to make life better for working British Columbians. His contributions to B.C.'s labour movement and the province as a whole are immeasurable."

New Democrat leader Adrian Dix remembered Munro on Friday as well, saying that "British Columbians have lost one of their greatest champions" and that "Jack, on so many occasions, won the argument that fairness drives prosperity."

"In Jack, people across this province had someone who fought for them, their rights to opportunity, dignity and respect for their hard work, fair wages and to pensions in exchange for their valuable contributions to B.C.'s economy," Dix said in a written statement. 

Munro dedicated himself to charitable causes in the years following his retirement, and in 1999 he was awarded the Order of Canada.