Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

In Search of C.B. Wade, Research Director and Labour Historian, 1944–1950

Document type Article
Author Frank, David
Journal Labour / Le Travail
Volume 79
Date 2017 Spring
ISSN 1911-4842
Pages 9-52


The paper examines the experience of C.B. Wade (1906–1982), a chartered accountant and university instructor who was recruited to work for organized labour during the period of transition from wartime mobilization to postwar reconstruction at the end of the Second World War. In hiring Wade in 1944, District 26 of the United Mine Workers of America became one of the first Canadian unions to employ a research director to help address the challenges of the new age of industrial legality and advance their social democratic agenda. The paper discusses Wade's background, including his involvement in the Workers' Educational Association, and documents his contributions to the work of the coal miners' union, including the efforts to promote public ownership of the industry. In addition, the paper discusses Wade's unpublished history of the union, a manuscript that has had a long life as an underground classic. While the negotiation of the postwar compromises between labour, capital and the state gave union staff such as Wade an increasingly central role in labour relations, this was not a stable context, and the paper also considers the deepening Cold War conditions that led to the end of his employment in 1950. In the context of labour and working-class history, Wade can be associated with a relatively small cohort of politically engaged intellectuals who made lasting contributions to the research capacity of unions and to the field of labour studies.