Boot and Shoe Workers Union
The Boot and Shoe Workers Union was established in Boston 1895 and incorporated the militant Boot and Shoe Workers International Union (founded 1889), which had led a Toronto shoemakers' strike in 1890. The BSWU, led by Guelph-born John Tobin, was committed to resisting mechanization. Hamilton, Toronto and the shoe-producing stronghold of Montréal became centres of BSWU activity.
By 1914 the union had abandoned its original radicalism. It had 16 Canadian branches with 1752 members, just over 1% of international union membership. It would remain a small, struggling and reactionary union, precariously clinging to the remnants of an obsolete craft, and challenged by Québec's Catholic unions in the 1920s and industrial unionists in the 1930s.