CRIES of VICTIMS – VOICE of GOD… Ginger Goodwin – 100 years, A WORKERS FRIEND


Ginger Goodwin Gravestone, Cumberland Cemetry BC - bruce witzel photo


At a Regional Park on Comox Lake near the town of Cumberland, British Columbia, the Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers Union erected a sign memorialising labour martyr Ginger Goodwin, who is buried in the local cemetary under a stone inscribed “A Workers’ Friend”.  One side of the sign carries the words to “The Ballad Of Ginger Goodwin.”


Ginger Goodwin memorial in the late 80's or early 90's - photographer unknown


                        BALLAD OF GINGER GOODWIN


                 Ginger Goodwin is a name you don’t often hear or see.
                 They don’t say a word about him in our country’s history.
                 He was a labour leader and he wouldn’t go to war.
                 “While the army breaks our strikes at home, its strikers I’ll fight for.”

                 In Trail back in the summer of 1917.
                 Ginger fought against conscription even though he was class D.
                 But when he led a miners’ strike to spread the eight hour day
                 Conscription checked him out again and found he was class A.

                 Ginger hid from cops and soldiers in the hills near Cumberland.
                 Miners brought him food and sheltered him, they knew he was their friend.
                 So the bosses hired special cops when their power was at stake.
                 Dan Campbell murdered Goodwin at the head of Comox Lake.

                 The whole damn town of Cumberland turned out for the funeral hike.
                 Vancouver’s workers shut her down for a one day general strike.
                 Soldiers back from foreign wars then attacked the labour hall.
                 Both the bosses and the workers knew who caused the Czar’s downfall.

                 You can still see Ginger’s grave along the road to Cumberland.
                 He didn’t win no medals and no one understands.
                 Don’t tell me that a hero has to die in foreign lands.
                 We lost heroes here in labour’s wars and they all had dirty hands.


                                         Song and Lyrics by Richard von Fuchs


Sign at Cumberland Cemetery


Victoria Catholic Bishop Remi De Roo speaks at ceremony at Comox Lake (on June 27, 1987) to dedicate the memorial plaque to slain unionist Albert “Ginger” Goodwin, killed by a conscription officer in 1918. Behind de Roo is Leo Nimsick, a former Mine Mill and Smelter Workers organizer and Mines Minister in the NDP provincial government of Premier Dave Barrett.

Remi De Roo, now 94, also gave a tribute to Dave at his memorial on March 8, 2018 at the University of Victoria Farquhar Auditorium. Remi was a spiritual advisor to Dave Barrett after he left office.


From Simon Fraser University Digital Archives                                                                                             Photo courtesy off Simon Fraser University Digital Archives


“Just as the church in our day has to disassociate itself from structures of domination, so also must Western culture change its model and goals of social power, learning instead to trust and serve the needs of ordinary people. . . 

Nor should we be misled by the East-West ideological confrontation which tends to obscure the deeper reality of structural injustice that threatens global stability. it is tragic that political experiments regarding alternative models, such as Nicaragua for example, are given little chance to survive because of this ideological straight jacket.

Having sat at the same table with peasants and leaders of the Third World, listened to their aspirations and learned from there wisdom, I have no hesitation in saying their hopes and desires are not a matter of being communist or capitalist but of being more self reliant through community ownership and control.”


Excerpted from Cries of Victims, Voice of God – by Bishop Remi De Roo, 1986 


Cheers ~ Bruce

12 thoughts on “CRIES of VICTIMS – VOICE of GOD… Ginger Goodwin – 100 years, A WORKERS FRIEND

    • Ginger Goodwin originally came over to Canada from Wales, searching for work and a better life. The mines here near Cumberland were even more unsafe. Dunsmuir was the local coal baron. Ginger is still fondly remembered by the locals 100 years later. Dunsmuir is not. Thanks for dropping by Otto.

    • Yes Susan, an amazing piece of history of the struggle for the rights of working people everywhere and a world without war. There is also a current exhibit at the Cumberland Museum about Ginger Goodwin and the labour strife of the coal mines. I hope Fran and I get down to see it, though I did visit Ginger Goodwin’s grave on July 29. In regards to Remi De Roo, I think you’d be interested to know he is a very close friend to Charles Brandt… both are in there mid 90’s now and Remi still speak out as Jesus did. It’s wonderful to here from you Susan. Take care. Bruce

    • Yes … I am grateful for learning about Ginger too. . I grew up only a few miles from his grave and during my 20’s a few ti\mes I hiked up into Cruikshank Canyon, the location where Ginger was murdered… I only first heard about his activism and sacrifice in the 80’s at the dedication of the memorial shown in the photos above, where I had gone to listen to Remi De Roo speak in support of workers. It’s odd (or maybe not) about how history is written by the victors and so many truths are left out. Good cheers David.

  1. So true that I’ve never heard of Ginger Goodwin. Labor activism and the protection of workers is near to my heart. My husband dedicated 25 years as the head of his Local United Transportation Union (railroad workers) and we have accumulated a lifetime of incredible stories. Some with wonderful outcomes, others with disappointment and frustration, but all with the purpose of working with the men and women who needed his intervention and advocacy. “People work” can be challenging. He has a few scars! 🙂 “Cries of Victims, Voice of God” sounds like a very challenging and purposeful read. Thank you for another very thoughtful post, Bruce.

    • Your husband is another hero, in my eyes Debra. I was active with Canadian Pulp Workers for 10 years, before I became mostly self employed in 94′. I hear what you say about the wonderful outcomes and sad stories. A great victory was having proper Secondary treatment installed to slow down the spread of Dioxin’s – a sad outcome today is the Pulp Mill is completely shut down, with difficult years that lead up to it. Even though leaders like Ginger Goodwin were considered radicals (he advocated for Socialist Principles) – Ginger was a pacifist and didn’t advocate violence – indeed he is remembered by Cumberland folk as a voice of reason that reduced the violence in many of the strikes and labour disputes in the Cumberland coal mines of that era.

      As for Remi de Roo, he has consistently spoken out against the elite establishment and stood by the poor and oppressed. This, like your husband (and Ginger) has cost him – Remi was accused of an investment scandal in the late 90’s in long drawn out legal battle, where over about a decade or so, the courts totally vindicated him .
      The truth is that many wealthy and influential Catholic’s (including the infamous Canadian newspaper baron, Conrad Black as well as local businessman) did not like Remi De Roo standing up for the poor and for average working people – they used their power against him. Remi never really once pointed a finger at any individuals but quietly took the false accusations against him. In the end in a completley different course case, Black vs. United States, Conrad Black was convicted on four counts of fraud in U.S. District Court in Chicago. While two of the criminal fraud charges were dropped during an appeal, a conviction for felony fraud and obstruction of justice were upheld in 2010 and he was re-sentenced in to 42 months in prison and a fine of $125,000. (That last sentence I copied from wikipedia so as i ‘d be sure to get it right).

      Sort of says who the real scoundrels are, dosen’t it Debra?

  2. Bruce, it’s also great to hear from you 🙂
    Thanks for sharing the story of the unsung Canadian hero of the working people, Ginger Goodwin. Bishop Remi De Roo’s message still, sadly, resonates today.

    • Your welcome Priscilla. Ginger Goodwin aside, though it’s connected – there’s much more to the story of Remi de Roo & the anti-trust case of Conrad Black vs. United States. You probably recall that case. I commented about this in a response to Debra of Breath-the-Lighter. Black had powerful business assets, especially controlling English speaking newspapers, and had an intense bias against Remi De Roo who consistently has stood up for the poor, for labour, and for the earth. Black’s newspapers were instrumental in a campaign to tarnish Remi’s good works which have now spanned 7 decades. Some newspaper articles called Remi a “red” Bishop. Later, in the early 2000’s if i recall correctly, Black was charged and found guilty of fraud charges in a completely different case of securities fraud.

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