Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William Arthur “Bill” Pritchard (1888-1981)

Labour leader.

Born at Salford, England on 3 April 1888, he was educated at Swinton and attended night classes at the Royal Institute of Technology and the Manchester School of Technology. He immigrated to Vancouver in 1911 and quickly became a Socialist leader. He edited the Western Clarion from 1914 to 1917 and led the British Columbia contingent to the Calgary Western Labour Conference in March 1919 which founded the One Big Union. He arrived in Winnipeg on 10 June 1919 with James Farmer, and was soon involved in the Winnipeg General Strike. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was captured in Calgary and put on trial for sedition with other leaders singled out by the federal government. He defended himself and was sentenced to one year in prison. His address to the jury was published in 1920, the same year that he stood for a seat in the Manitoba Legislature in the general election but was defeated. He then returned to Vancouver, where he was elected to the Burnaby council in 1928 and chosen Reeve in 1930, serving until 1932. He also became President of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. After the death of his daughter in 1938, he moved to Los Angeles, California where he became active in the World Socialist Party of the United States. He died on 23 October 1981.

See also:

Profiles in Dissent: The Shaping of Radical Thought in the Canadian West by Harry Gutkin and Mildred Gutkin (1997), pages 93-134.

Canadian Marxists and the Search for a Third Way by Peter Campbell, McGill-Queen’s University Press (1999).

Sources:

Death registration [Mildred Eleanor Pritchard], British Columbia Vital Statistics.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

William Arthur Pritchard, City of Burnaby.

We thank James Naylor for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 15 April 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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