Memorable Manitobans: Richard James “Dickie” Johns (1888-1970)
Labour leader, educator.
Born at Cornwall, England on 6 May 1888, he came to Canada in 1912 via Denver, Colorado. In 1917 he urged a general strike against conscription and national registration. In 1919 he was a machinist for the Canadian Pacific Railway, a member of the Social Democratic Party, and a leader of the One Big Union (OBU). He had been a delegate to the Calgary Convention of 1919 that had established the OBU.
He was in Montreal at sittings of the National Railway Board as the elected representative of the machinists when a warrant charging him with seditious conspiracy was issued for his arrest on 17 June 1919. He was found guilty by a jury on 28 March 1920 and was sentenced to one year in prison. He was a Labour candidate in the 1920 provincial general election but was defeated.
He subsequently became an industrial arts teacher, served as night-school Principal at St. John’s High School, and in March 1939 was appointed Director of Technical Education by the Province of Manitoba, succeeding Samuel T. Newton. He participated in the planning of what became the Red River College. He became Principal of the Manitoba Technical and Vocational Training Institute in 1951 and retired in 1953.
He moved to Victoria, British Columbia in 1960 and died there on 26 August 1970.
“Youth trainer is promoted,” Winnipeg Tribune, 31 March 1939, page 25.
Death registration, British Columbia Vital Statistics.
Times of Trouble: Labour Quiescence in Winnipeg 1920-1929 by David Edward Hall, MA thesis, University of Manitoba, 1983, page 44.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
We thank Peter Wilson for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 16 September 2022