Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2021-01-05

"They Shall Not Die!": Anarchists, Syndicalists, Communists, and the Sacco and Vanzetti Solidarity Campaign in Canada

Document type Article
Author Bjorge, Mikhail
Journal Labour / Le Travail
Volume 75
Date 2015 Spring
ISSN 1911-4842
Pages 43-73


The campaign to free imprisoned anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti ignited mobilization the world over in the 1920s. In Canada, the solidarity movement was split into three groupings: anarchists, syndicalists, and communists. The anarchists were largely represented by a small group surrounding Emma Goldman in Toronto. Syndicalists were organized by the One Big Union and Industrial Workers of the World, largely in Winnipeg and the Lakehead respectively. The Communist Party of Canada, and its adjunct, the Canadian Labour Defence League, were active across Canada. All three groupings, depsite their ideological differences, mounted campaigns that culminated in information pickets, mass demonstrations, calls to action, and even a strike. Although ultimately unsuccessful, the examination of the Canadian Sacco and Vanzetti solidarity movement gives critical insight into the radical left in the 1920s.