The Provincial Workmen’s Association of Nova Scotia, 1879-1898
Reilly, Sharon M.
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This thesis examines the history of the Provincial Workmen's Association of Nova Scotia, from iits formation in 1879, until the resignation of the union's ffirst Grand Secretary in 1898. The study begins with a desiscription of the economic background of the province's coal t.trade during the 19th century. The end of the "golden age" o of wood, wind and sail, and the region's attempts to industria~alize in response to the National Policy are discussed in rela·.ation to the coal industry. The difficulties experienced by tlthe miners as a result of these changing economic conditions1s are considered in the second chapter, and the formation off the P.W.A. is described. The early organizational activitities, constitution, ritual _and structure of the society are also~o detailed. The following chapter investigates the three tac1ctics employed by the P.W.A. to protect the rights and improve,e the condition of the Nova Scotia miners. The utility and idedeological underpinnings of each method - strikes, governmen~nt lobbying and electoral · politics - is considered in order t to clarify the degree of success achieved by the union in i1its stated goals. Chapter Four focuses more directly on the idtdeology of the P.W.A. "Loyalist" and "rebel" attitudes towaward the coal masters, the increasing alientation of the mine1ers from their work resulting from the development of industriall capitalism, and the growth of trade union consciousness and~ working class awareness are described. The influence of RcRobert Drummond on the Nova Scotia miners is also discussed. TlThe fifth and final chapter describes the rank and file disconterent with leadership that emerged in the late 1880s and culminateced with the compan.y store dispute in 1896. The "invasion of thee Knights of Labor" and the resignation of Robert Drummond are e}examined. Final conclusions are then presented, followed by can epilogue, which describes briefly the path taken by the P.W.1.A. from 1898 until the dissolution of the union in 1917.