July 1 will mark the 80th anniversary of the brutal police attack against the On to Ottawa Trek. On that date in 1935, the citizens of Regina and Trek participants were holding a peaceful mass rally in that city’s Market Square. Suddenly, at 8:17 pm, RCMP officers emerged from vans parked at the square with batons and tear gas to break up the rally, injuring hundreds and sparking the infamous “Regina Police Riot”.
The On to Ottawa Trek was organized by the Relief Camp Workers Union, and led by Arthur “Slim” Evans, one of the most popular trade union and Communist leaders of the “Dirty Thirties” Depression era. In the spring of 1935, after weeks of political organizing in Vancouver to demand “Work and Wages”, hundreds of RCWU members and other unemployed workers boarded freight trains, intending to take their struggle directly to the federal government in Ottawa.