Trek Project–75th Anniversary of the On To Ottawa Trek

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  In June, 1935, in the most pernicious moments of the Depression, unemployed men in Relief Camps across B.C. organized, walked out, and gathered in Vancouver to protest their slave-like conditions. Eventually 1400 of them boarded freight-train boxcars together, starting the legendary On To Ottawa Trek. As they proceeded eastward, people in railroad communities along the way responded to their simple affirmation that meaningful work and wages create the respect that all individuals deserve. Their numbers grew as they rode the rails like the dispossessed, protesting government inaction, as their cry for justice dominated the headlines.

Prime Minister Bennett issued orders to terminate the Trek by force in Regina, but the citizens of that city fed and supported the 2000 Trekkers for three weeks through collections at public meetings. Finally, a secretly amassed force of RCMP and city police attacked one of these public meetings of citizens, igniting the Regina Riot on July 1st, 1935.

In honour of the 75th anniversary of the Trek, Elroy Deimert, author of Pubs, Pulpits and Prairie Fires, will embark on a book tour stopping in each of the towns visited by the original Trekkers. Each stop will host a variety of celebrations, including readings by Deimert, the honouring of surviving trekkers and eyewitnesses and the singing of labour anthems of folksongs of the era.

Riding with Deimert is Outpost Productions, under the direction of Alan Segal. The Outpost team will film a documentary of the celebrations, interviewing veterans and eyewitnesses to the original events. It is hoped that the documentary will find a permanent home in the Glenbow Museum and the National Archives, as well a airtime on national television networks.

Witness a tribute and re-enactment of a vitally important moment in Canadian history by participating in 75th anniversary of the On To Ottawa Trek.


June 13th: Join the Trek Project, Garnet Dishaw and professors from the University of Regina for a tour of Market Square and other important sites of the Regina Riot. The event begins at 6 pm.

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