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Stories of 1958 Inco strike sought for research project

University of Saskatchewan researcher conducting massive study of firsthand accounts

A researcher at the University of Saskatchewan is looking to talk with anyone who has stories about the 1958 Inco strike.

Elizabeth Quinlan is writing a book on the historic strike of some 17,000 mine workers in Sudbury and Port Colborne, Ont.

The bitter labour dispute began on Sept. 24, 1958 and lasted until nearly the end of that year.

“I want to talk to as many people as possible so I can put together a picture of how the strike affected the whole community,” Quinlan said, in a press release.

The USask sociologist has a strong personal connection to the project. Quinlan’s family once lived in Sudbury and her father, Lukin Robinson, was Research Director for the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers’ union.

Quinlan says the effects of the strike were also felt beyond the local community. 

“The strike marked a turning point in Canada’s labour movement,” she said. “It also had a significant and lasting effect on people’s perceptions of unions, from the post-war period to today.”

Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) recently awarded Quinlan’s project a grant to allow for the completion a massive case study of firsthand accounts of the strike.

Quinlan will then compile her research into a book about the strike.

“I’m looking to understand the causes and consequences of the strike through the everyday lives of people who lived through it," she said,.

Because of that, Quinlan is interested in talking with people from all walks of life including mine workers and bosses, to the dance instructors who taught their children, to civic politicians, church officials, store owners, hotel managers and more.

Many of those who actively participated in the strike are now in their 80s and 90s and many others have passed away.  

But second-hand accounts and family stories that have been passed down are also important pieces of the puzzle.

“If you remember your parents talking about the strike, or if you have vivid memories of that time even though you may have been very young, I want to hear from you too.”

You can share your stories by contacting Quinlan at 306-665-1700 or by emailing inco1958strike@usask.ca

You can also send your recollections by mail to Dr. Elizabeth Quinlan, Inco 1958 Strike Project, Arts 1115, 9 Campus Drive, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon SK, S7N 5A5.




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