Canada: Trades Unions Material

Scope and Content

Leaflets, letters, newsletters, journals, posters and pamphlets at federal and state level issued by the Canadian Labour Congress, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Confederation of Canadian Unions, and the Fédération des travailleurs du Québec, and the Ontario Federation of Labour.

Administrative / Biographical History

The 1950s and 1960s saw an expansion in union power and membership as the high demand for labour in a growing economy strengthened its representatives' bargaining power. At the same time the merger of the Canadian Congress of Labour and the Trades and Labor Congress, which formed the Canadian Labor Congress, both allowed labour to present a more united front and facilitated the setting up in 1961 of the New Democratic Party, a political party intended at least in part to represent union interests. Yet by the 1970s and 1980s the movement found itself on the back foot, as the Trudeau wage controls and later demands for a more flexible workforce and the loss of manufacturing jobs contributed to the erosion of hard-won rights. The materials here, mainly from union confederations, deal with their internal and external responses to the changing conditions described above.


Alphabetically by union, and then in rough chronological order.

Access Information

Open to all for research purposes; access is free for anyone in higher education.

Acquisition Information

Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Other Finding Aids

Records at item level on library catalogue (SASCAT).

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Daniel Millum, Political Archives Project Officer at the Institutes of Commonwealth and Latin American Studies.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can usually be obtained - apply to library staff.

Custodial History

The Commonwealth Trades Unions Materials collection was built up alongside that of the Political Parties, which was begun in 1960-61, and likewise concentrated on the collection of primary material. The main method of gathering material has been to appeal directly to trades unions throughout the Commonwealth, though contributions from Institute members and staff following visits to relevant countries have been significant. More recently material has been collected by means of downloading documents from the websites of major union organisations.


Further accruals are expected, some in electronic form.

Related Material

See also Canada: Pressure Groups Material (PG.CN) and Canada: Political Party Material (PP.CN), as well as Political Party, Trades Unions and Pressure Group Materials for other Commonwealth countries and related material in the library's main classified sequence, all held at the ICS.