Russell, Robert Boyd
Robert Boyd Russell, trade unionist, labour politician (b at Glasgow, Scot 1888; d at Winnipeg 9 Sept 1964). Russell was the most prominent personality associated with the 1919 WINNIPEG GENERAL STRIKE. Subsequently charged with seditious conspiracy, he was convicted and sentenced to a 2-year prison term, the harshest treatment meted out to any accused.
Russell was on the strike committee as an officer of the International Association of Machinists, but as leading spokesman for the ONE BIG UNION in Winnipeg, his presence helped convince authorities that the strike was a tentative revolution. The Socialist Party and the OBU tried but failed to return him to Parliament in Dec 1921. Ironically, votes cast for the Communist Party candidate, Jacob Penner, helped ensure defeat of the country's most notorious "Bolshevik." Russell's long and stormy career in the labour movement lasted over 50 years.
In 1956 the last remnants of the OBU joined the newly organized Canadian Labour Congress. Russell continued as executive secretary of the Winnipeg District Council until ill health forced him to retire in 1962. Russell was eventually honoured by the CLC, Manitoba Premier Duff ROBLIN and others; his career serves as a reminder of the social and political complexity of Scottish working class immigration in twentieth century Canada.