Ottawa on strike: Scenes from pickets past

This week's one-day strike by teachers is top of mind for many today. But labour unrest has been a reality in and around Ottawa for a long, long time.
Members of the Hospitality and Services Union Local 261 walk the picket line outside the Delta Inn in the fall of 1981. This hotel is now a Hilton on Queen Street between Lyon and Bay streets. (Government of Canada/Library and Archives Canada)

This week's one-day strike by teachers is top of mind for many today.

But labour unrest has been a reality in and around Ottawa for a long, long time.

Here are some scenes from the picket line over the decades.

Ottawa Car and Aircraft Ltd. workers strike in the 1940s on Slater Street near Lyon Street. (T.V. Little/Library and Archives Canada)
Striking workers outside Phillips Electrical Company in Brockville, Ont., in 1953. The plant on King Street closed in 1996. (Brockville Museum)
Road workers on strike in Plantagenet, Ont., in 1954. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA003676)
Employees protest low wages in front of radio station CKOY, now 1310 News, in 1955. The strike lasted from August to October. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA034098)

A garbage strike in the summer of 1971 seemed particularly rowdy.

'Garbagemen' on strike at Ottawa Sanitation Services in 1971 while camera crews and police look on. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA050492 )
A police officer attempts to keep tempers in check outside the garbage depot. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA050518)
Striking sanitation workers and police officers in riot gear face off on Triole Street, near St.-Laurent Boulevard and the Queensway. (Peter Bregg/City of Ottawa Archives | CA050530)
Garbage workers who crossed the picket line, such as this man, apparently had to carry air guns to fend off attacks. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA050500 )
Sanitation workers vote whether or not to end their strike. (City of Ottawa Archives | CA050544)

Eight years later Bell switchboard operators took job action for better wages.

Bell switchboard operators took part in strikes and work-to-rule campaigns amid a push for higher wages over the holidays in 1979.  1:34

Federal public service workers in 1991 held a general strike that helped them achieve better job security.

Members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada went on strike in 1991, marking the first public-service strike in Canadian history. The strike affected a wide range of national services, from customs and shipping, to agriculture, to air travel.  2:41

OC Transpo passengers won't soon forget the 51-day bus strike during the frigid winter of 2008-09.

It's been 10 years since an OC Transpo strike left commuters struggling. 0:35

If you can fill in any of the blanks in our archives, or have some of your own local strike history to share, please send it our way by email, Twitter or Facebook message, or leave a comment below.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.