Memorable Manitobans: George Armstrong (1870-1956)
Labour leader, MLA (1921-1922).
Born at Scarborough, Ontario on 17 April 1870, he lived in the United States before coming to Winnipeg in 1905. A member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, he was a one-time organizer of that union, as well as a founding member of the Socialist Party in Winnipeg. He ran for a seat in the Manitoba Legislature in 1910, 1914, and 1915, being defeated each time. A prominent exponent of Marxism and regarded as one of Canada’s leading soap-box orators, he was highly critical of the Canadian government for its repressive policies toward dissent.
One of the leaders of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, he was arrested on 17 June, tried on seven counts of seditious conspiracy, found guilty, and sentenced to one year in prison. In the 1920 general election, he won a seat in the Manitoba Legislature as a Socialist Party of Canada candidate. He was defeated in 1922 and 1932.
He was married to Helen Jury “Ma” Armstrong and they had four children: Helen Armstrong (1899-?), Mary Armstrong (1901-?), Mabel Armstrong (1903-?), and Francis Alfred “Frank” Armstrong (1907-?). The family lived at 622 Spence Street, Winnipeg.
He moved to Victoria, British Columbia around 1945, from there going to California. He died while visiting a daughter at Concord, California on 13 February 1956.
Birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.
1916 Canada census, Ancestry.
1921 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.
“1919 strike leader dies in California,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 February 1956, page 21.
Times of Trouble: Labour Quiescence in Winnipeg 1920-1929 by David Edward Hall, MA thesis, University of Manitoba, 1983, page 54.
We thank Oliver Bernuetz for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 18 January 2021