Protest, strike and rebellion in Canada’s Capital

Tour details

Though less than 200 years old, Ottawa – Gatineau has a rich tradition of protest, strike and rebellion, dramatic events that shaped not only this region, but the very nature of Canada. Nineteenth century lumbermen, sawmill workers and canal builders worked in brutal conditions which they resisted with often amazing feats of organization. Throughout the twentieth century, Ottawa was a magnet for protestors whose campaigns and demands still shape our world today.

This tour visits 9-10 sites of protest, strike and rebellion to highlight some of the key events in the history of Ottawa and Canada, from events originating locally like the 1849 Stoney Monday Riot, to those which started elsewhere like the 1971 Abortion Rights Caravan. At each site, we will explore the context for the event, its outcome, and its significance for today.

This 3 hour tour starts with a visit to the Rideau Canal and makes its way to Parliament Hill while covering:

  • 250 years of Algonquin protests
  • Strikes and riots by labourers who built the Rideau Canal
  • Ethnic riots and gang warfare during the 1830s
  • The Stoney Monday Riot of 1849
  • The strike that shutdown the Chaudiere lumber industry in 1891
  • The 1935 unemployed On-to Ottawa Trek and Ontario Hunger March
  • The first nation-wide feminist protest, the Abortion Caravan of 1971
  • The first Gay and Lesbian demonstration ever held in Canada in 1971
  • The Native People’s Caravan of 1974 and the Red Power Movement
  • The first large federal public service strike in Ottawa

If you are interested in learning more about the subjects covered can consult:

  • Fractured Homeland: Federal Recognition and Algonquin Identity in Ontario, Bonita Lawrence, UBC Press, 2012
  • Ottawa: An illustrated History, John H. Taylor, Lorimer, 1986
  • Canada’s 1960s: The Ironies of Identity in a Rebellious Era, Bryan Palmer, University of Toronto Press, 2009

These books are available at Octopus Books (downtown location): 251 Bank Street, 2nd floor.
Phone: (613) 688-0752

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Book Protest tour

  • All tours are $25 (cash) payable at the end of the tour.
  • Tours must be booked at least 24 hours in advance. (You will receive confirmation of your booking.)
  • Tours proceed rain or shine and begin at the giant spider statue (Maman) in front of the National Gallery on Sussex Drive.

Book Protest Tour