"Un chaînon incontournable au Québec" : les Chevaliers du travail, 1882–1902

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"Un chaînon incontournable au Québec" : les Chevaliers du travail, 1882–1902
The author notes that the attemps of the nineteenth-century trade union, The Order of the Knights of Labour, to establish itself in Quebec has traditionally been viewed in a negative light. He states that the Quebec wing of this American trade union is described by historians, sociologists and industrial relations experts as an utopian movement, too far removed from the immediate needs of workers and the reality of the industrial world. Using a wide variety of new sources, the author presents a new portrait of the union's organizational structure and course in the province. He claims that not only was the Quebec Knights’ experience remarkable, but it also shaped a generation of workers and probably more. The author's research concludes that in that most laborious and capricious Canadian landscape, Montreal, the Knights of Labor began an intense collaboration between Francophones and Anglophones (especially Irish) in the city. Seeking to strengthen labour’s power, it focused on craft unionism, while experimenting with industrial unionism on a scale unimagined by historiography. Also open to immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, as well as to women, the Knights thus challenged the existing order. That is why, the author maintains, more than any other Quebec labor movement that preceded it, the Knights of Labor faced the Catholic clergy’s hostility. However, the author concludes, Catholicism also played in the opposite direction when, following the release of Rerum Novarum, an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 on the rights and duties of capital and labour, Quebec workers were inspired by the legitimacy given to labour organization and revived the movement in the 1890s.
Labour / Le Travail
Vol. 70
Bischoff, Peter C. “‘Un chaînon incontournable au Québec’ : les Chevaliers du travail, 1882–1902.” Labour / Le Travail Vol. 70 (2012): 13–60. http://www.lltjournal.ca/index.php/llt/article/view/5656/6519.
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