Everyone Weighs In
The strike may have polarized some people, but, as the Mercury was quick to point out, not everybody was adverse to the sudden influx of newcomers. The paper noted:
Guelph hotels are doing a land office business as a result of the garment workers’ strike here.
Strikers and police all have to be accommodated, and, when, in addition, the various out of town authorities are seeking hotel rooms, the demand increases steadily. Two or three have been completely filled, and in at least one instance, strikers and police slept in the same hotel
(Guelph Mercury, August 25, 1934).
Guelph citizens and officials also expressed their thoughts on the strike. They did not approve of the high cost the city was paying for police guards (They were being paid as much as $5 a day and hotel expenses.) to remove goods from the factory at night. Some even gladly took part in the “riots” including some children who sat on a nearby roof and tossed down bricks at the employees trying to enter the plants. Both the employed and unemployed were expressing their distaste for company tactics and venting their rage against the Depression.
Mayor Robson and the Strike
As the strike continued, R. Beverly Robson, Mayor of Guelph, criticized for not doing enough, was threatened by calls for his resignation. He did seek help from the Ontario Attorney General at the time – General Arthur Roebuck. However, according to Roebuck, who held a meeting of all involved parties, Robson was of little help. The Peterborough Examiner quotes Roebuck saying Robson had” screamed for bayonets.” This was a charge Robson denied although he did say he had sought police support from Roebuck.
Whatever the mayor’s request, he was saved from resigning by the end of the strike on August 30. The LGWU won. Popular Cloak Works stayed in Guelph; Superior Cloak Works returned to Toronto, and Guelph garment workers benefited. Popular Cloak Works was unionized. The following year, when they went out, the strike was settled in a few days. The union reached a compromise with management on a wage increase.