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Interview with W.H. O'Brien July / August 1975 - Track 6

https://search.heritageburnaby.ca/permalink/oralhistory23
Repository
City of Burnaby Archives
Summary
This portion of the interview pertains to W.H. "Harry" O'Brien's involvement with the Army of the Common Good Cooperative stores and their beginnings. Harry mentions the Credit Union.
Date Range
1932-1938
Length
0:09:14
  1 Audio     1 Image  
Repository
City of Burnaby Archives
Summary
This portion of the interview pertains to W.H. "Harry" O'Brien's involvement with the Army of the Common Good Cooperative stores and their beginnings. Harry mentions the Credit Union.
Date Range
1932-1938
Photo Info
Harry and Gertrude (Crossan) O'Brien on their wedding day, October 12, 1940. Item no. 315-005
Length
0:09:14
Subject
Organizations
Persons - Volunteers
Geographic Access
Burnaby - McKay Avenue
Historic Neighbourhood
Central Park (Historic Neighbourhood)
Interviewer
Bradbury, Dr. Bettina
Interview Date
July / August 1975
Scope and Content
Recording is a taped interview with W.H. "Harry" O'Brien by SFU (Simon Fraser University) graduate student Bettina Bradbury. Major themes discussed are: the Army of the Common Good, the Union of the Unemployed and the Common Good Credit Union (now the South Burnaby Credit Union). To view "Narrow By" terms for each track expand this description and see "Notes".
Biographical Notes
W.H. “Harry” O’Brien was born in the coal mining town of Nanaimo, British Columbia on October 20, 1914. He came to Burnaby with his parents and five siblings in 1927. Harry’s mother, a school teacher, wanted her children to live closer to school in order to obtain a better education, so the O’Brien family settled at Inman Avenue, Burnaby. Harry left school in June of 1929. Harry’s father worked as the caretaker at Central Park around this time and Harry helped him to clear brush, plant trees and enforce the land clearing and wood cutting permit regulations held by men who were on script. Although too young to vote by just over a week, Harry O'Brien worked as a scrutineer for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) during the 1935 Federal Election. On October 12, 1940 Harry O'Brien married Gertrude Crossan at St. John the Divine in Burnaby. The Crossan family came to Burnaby from Winnipeg in 1933 and settled at Nelson Avenue. Gertrude's mother, Mary Anne Crossan, was Gilmore Avenue School's first teacher. Harry began his involvement with the Unemployment Organization in Burnaby by participating in an organised protest against the municipality for homeowner evictions brought on by unpaid taxes. The South Burnaby Union of the Unemployed organised in order to protest rules around receiving Relief. Harry became involved, eventually becoming one of the spearheads of the organization, taking over as secretary by 1936. Harry was an original member of the Army of the Common Good, helping to produce over one hundred and twenty-five tons of vegetables from its own gardens to feed Burnaby citizens suffering from the lack of resources during the Depression years. The members of the Army of the Common Good who cut wood for consumption or worked in the gardens were given credit for their work through LU (Labour Units) which they could then use to buy groceries and that at the Army's Cooperative stores, one of which was at McKay Avenue, where Harry began working as Manager of Groceries in 1937. The Credit Union movement of British Columbia was also organized by Harry O'Brien and his fellow Army of the Common Good members. W.H. "Harry" O'Brien died July 1, 1992.
Total Tracks
9
Total Length
1:17:56
Other Tracks
View All Tracks
Interviewee Name
O'Brien, Harry
Interviewer Bio
Bettina Bradbury teaches history and women's studies at York University. She is the author of Wife to Widow. Lives, Laws and Politics in Nineteenth-century Montreal. (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, June 2011), 520p; Working Families. Age, Gender and Daily Survival in Industrializing Montreal. (Toronto: Canadian Social History Series, McClelland and Stewart, 1993); (Republished Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1996) (3rd edition, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007). These interviews were undertaken after she completed her MA at Simon Fraser University in 1975 with the support of an LIP grant.
Collection/Fonds
Burnaby Historical Society Community Archives collection
Series
Oral History series
Item No.
100-13-25_Track_6
Transcript Available
None
Media Type
Sound Recording
Web Notes
Interview was digitized in 2010 allowing it to be accessible on Heritage Burnaby. The digitization project was initiated by the Community Heritage Commission with support from City of Burnaby Council and the BC History Digitization Program of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia. It was recognized by the Heritage Society of BC with an award in 2012.
Audio Tracks

Track six of interview with W.H.

Images
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