the shooting of Ginger Goodwin
A police bullet killed charismatic socialist labour organizer Albert “Ginger” Goodwin on 27 July 1918 on a lonely mountainside near Cumberland, BC, but it failed to silence rumours of a political assassination and police cover-up.
Albert Goodwin was born 10 May 1886 in Yorkshire, England, started coal mine work at 15 and emigrated to Canada at 20 in 1906. By 1911 he worked in Cumberland’s Number Five mine and joined the United Mine Workers of America’s 1912-14 Big Strike of Vancouver Island coal mines. He signed his political letters “yours in revolt.”
Blacklisted in Cumberland after the strike failed, Goodwin worked in several mines and for the smeltermen’s union in Trail, BC. He led a strike in November 1917, soon after the Russian Revolution, that halted munitions-related smelting for five weeks at a critical point in WWI. Shortly afterward he was refused exemption from military service despite his poor health. He fled to Cumberland and the nearby wilderness.
Friends supplied Goodwin and other draft evaders with food and clothing. After an intensive Dominion Police manhunt, special constable and marksman Dan Campbell killed Goodwin with one shot that ricocheted from his wrist through his neck. Campbell claimed that he shot in self-defence when Goodwin raised a rifle; Goodwin’s friends claimed he was carrying only a fishing rod and a handful of blackberries.
Outrage over the shooting sparked Canada’s first general strike in Vancouver on 2 August 1918. His friend Joe Naylor, a blacklisted Cumberland coal miner, asked pressing questions about police procedure at the coroner’s inquiry and was soon arrested for aiding a draft evader. Acquitted, Naylor went on to help found Canada’s radical industrial One Big Union, which may have alarmed the federal government into supporting traditional trade unions such as the UMWA.
Goodwin’s gravestone in the Cumberland cemetery was erected by his friends nearly 20 years after his death. It bears the wrong date for his shooting, and its hammer-and-sickle motif incorrectly identifies him as a communist, but the rough-hewn stone preserves his memory with its epithet “A Worker’s Friend.”
Was Ginger Goodwin’s shooting self-defence, accident or murder? Read more and make up your own mind.
Dictionary of Canadian Biography, “Albert Goodwin, Albert (Ginger).” http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/goodwin_albert_14E.html. Visited 14 November 2014.
Laura Ellyn, Ginger Goodwin: A Worker’s Friend. Toronto, 2016.
Derek Hanebury, Beyond the Forbidden Plateau. Vancouver, 1986.
Susan Mayse, Ginger: The Life and Death of Albert Goodwin. Madeira Park, BC, 1990.
Roger Stonebanks, Fighting for Dignity: The Ginger Goodwin Story. Vancouver, 2004.
Neil Vokey, Goodwin’s Way: About the Film. http://www.goodwinsway.com/about/#home. Visited 14 November 2014.
John Wilson, Red Goodwin. Vancouver, 2006.
Wikipedia, “Ginger Goodwin.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Goodwin. Visited 14 November 2014.