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Russell, Robert Boyd Share Link

Biographical Sketch or Administrative History 

Robert Boyd (R. B.) Russell (1888-1964) was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1888. He worked as an apprentice machinist in the Glasgow shipyards of John Brown before emigrating to Winnipeg in 1911 where he worked as a machinist in the C. P. R. shops. He then became the business agent for District 2 of the International Association of Machinists.

Russell married Margaret Ritchie Hampton (1890-1983) in 1911 and the couple had two children, Margaret Henderson Boyd Russell (later Sykes) (1912-1994) and David Smith Russell (1916-1978).

R. B. (Bob) Russell was a labour leader and member of the Central Strike Committee in the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919. He was arrested during the strike and was the first of the leaders to be tried by jury and was found guilty and sentenced to two years at Stony Mountain Penitentiary. He served approximately one year of the sentence.

Russell became the first general secretary of the One Big Union (OBU) in 1920, a position he held until 1956 when the Canadian Labour Congress was formed. At that time Russell was appointed executive secretary of the Winnipeg and District Labour Council, a position he held until his retirement in 1962.

Russell was involved with many other organizations including the Socialist Party of Canada, the Unemployment Insurance Commission, the Manitoba Labour Relations Board and the Fair Wage Board.

R. B. Russell died in Winnipeg on 25 September 1964 aged 75 years. In 1966 a new vocational high school in Winnipeg was named after him.


Archival records linked to this creator


Robert Boyd Russell fonds



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