Recording is a taped interview with Alfred Bingham by SFU graduate student Bettina Bradbury June 10, 1975. Major themes discussed are: the Depression, Pioneers, and the Co-operative Movement. To view "Narrow By" terms for each track expand this description and see "Notes".
Alfred "Alf" Bingham was born in England in 1892 and moved to Canada in 1912. His first job in Canada was laying track for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTPR) from Edmonton to McBride in 1912. His second was in Vancouver at the Rat Portage Mill on False Creek, working on the Resaw machine. He quit after one week due to poor working conditions.
After taking part in the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike as a delegate of the Retail and Mailorder Union (A.F.L.) on the Winnipeg Trades and Labour Council, Alfred moved to Burnaby where he and fellow Burnaby residents Angus McLean and Percy Little worked ten hour days to build a Shingle Mill on the edge of Burnaby Lake for Simpson & Giberson. George Green, carpenter and millwright (author of “The History of Burnaby”) also helped in the construction of the mill. Alfred built his own home from lumber cut from the mill in the Lochdale area on Sherlock Street between Curtis Street and Kitchener Street.
On April 10, 1920 Alfred married Mary Jane “Ada” Reynolds. Alfred and Ada often took in foster children during their marriage. Due to her nursing experience, Ada was often called upon to deliver babies in the Burnaby area.
Alfred and Ada Bingham were instrumental members of the Army of the Common Good, collecting vegetables and grains from growers in the area and even producing over 125 tons of vegetables from its own gardens to feed children and youth suffering from the lack of resources during the Depression years. The army was in operation for ten years and during that time the members organised the Credit Union movement of British Columbia and drew up the Credit Union act thorough the Vancouver Co-operative Council. They also started Co-Op stores and the Co-Op Wholesale Society.
Alfred was also Secretary of the Burnaby Housing committee and in 1946 he became the Secretary of the North Burnaby Labour Progressive Party (LPP).
Mary Jane “Ada” (Reynolds) Bingham died on August 9, 1969. Her husband Alfred died on April 29, 1979.
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.
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.
Track eleven of interview with Alfred Bingham
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