Saturday, 19 May 2012

Union Town - Port Union, Newfoundland

We have all heard the term "Company Town" which were mostly mill and mining communities where the company owned the housing, the store, the hospitals, the schools and the utilities; a town where the workers felt that the company controlled every aspect of their lives 24/7. 

Well, have you ever heard of a Union Town?

There once was a union town in Port Union, Newfoundland (the only Union Town in North America according to the locals), which the CBC recently featured in a radio documentary "We are leaving Mr. Coaker" that aired on the January 29th broadcast of the Sunday Edition.

The documentary tells the history of this unique community. While Port Union may appear to be a typical fishing outport, it was founded in 1916 by, and for, members of the Fisherman's Protective Union and their fiery leader William Ford Coaker. Port Union's life blood has been its fish plant and unionized workforce, however recent corporate ownership, a hurricane, dwindling fish stock and the pressures of the global economy have caused the plant to shut its doors, leaving the community with a questionable future.

Why don't Canadians know more about this worker-owned community, now a national historic site? What lessons from the past can future generations of Canadians learn?

 To view the documentary visit:

To learn more about the History of Port Union visit: 

For a biography of William Ford Coaker visit:

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