E. T. Kingsley

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Eugene Thornton Kingsley (1856 – December 9, 1929) was a founder and leader of the Socialist Party of Canada and an editor of the Western Clarion newspaper, one of the most prominent left wing publications in Canada before World War I,[1] in the first decade of the 20th century. He ran for Parliament in the riding of Vancouver City in the 1908 and 1911 federal elections as a candidate of the Socialist Party of Canada and in the 1926 federal election in the riding of Vancouver Centre as a candidate of the British Columbia Independent Labour Party. He also ran for the British Columbia Legislative Assembly in the 1907 and 1909 provincial elections. He served as editor of the Western Clarion from 1903 until 1908 and was later active in the British Columbia Federated Labour Party where he served as a vice-president and eventually the British Columbia Independent Labour Party. In 1919, he edited the weekly paper, Labour Star, which survived for a few months.

Early life[edit]

Little is known of Kingsley's early life. Born in the 1850s, Kingsley came from a modest, middling class background. He spent his early years moving with his family along the Midwest of the United States, from Chautauqua Country, New York, to Ohio, to Wisconsin, and finally to Minnesota, where he settled with his wife Almira Doan and began to start a family. Kingsley himself kept moving west, working the railroad, eventually ending up in Montana working for Northern Pacific.[2]

Accident and radicalization[edit]

On October the 15th, 1890, Eugene T. Kingsley was setting brakes while working on the flat cars of the North Pacific Railway Company's line near Missoula, Montana at a location known as Spring Gulch. A traincar defect, however, and the darkness of the night, resulted in his stepping through the gaps between the cars.The train ran over and crushed both of Kingsleys legs from the knees down, and later they had to be amputated.[2] While recovering in hospital, Kingsley read the works of Marx and Engels.[3] After recovering from his injury, Kingsley moved to San Francisco, and quickly became the state organizer for the Socialist labor Party of America. After a bitter confrontation with Daniel De Leon over tactics and policy, Kingsley left the SLP.[3]

Life in British Columbia[edit]

In 1902 the Nanaimo Socialist Club invited Kingsley to speak on a brief tour. His impact on Vancouver island was powerful enough that he was asked to stay permanently. Kingsley was set up by the club first as a fish seller, then as a printer.[3] Kingsleys expertise on Socialist thought made him a valuable asset as an educator, organizer and communicator to the emerging radical socialist movement in British Columbia. This was all the more remarkable as Canadian immigration law at the time largely prohibited immigration of people with disabilities.[4]

The Nanaimo socialists left the SPBC in 1902 and established the Revolutionary Socialist Party of Canada.The Party's platform was the most radical platform drafted in Canada at the time. It called for the destruction of capitalism and said ' the pathway leading to our emancipation from the chains of wage slavery is uncompromising political warfare against the capitalist class, with no quarter and no surrender.'[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ian McKay, Reasoning Otherwise: Leftists and the People's Enlightenment in Canada, 1890-1920, Between the Lines, 2008, p. 30.
  2. ^ a b "Incident at Spring Gulch-Disability and the Railroad". Able to Lead. Retrieved March 13, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d McCormack, A.Ross (1977). Reformers, Rebels and Revolutionaries: The Western Canadian Radical Movement 1899-1919. Canada: University of Toronto press. pp. 26–27. ISBN 0-8020-5385-8. 
  4. ^ "The Old War Horse-Socialism in British Columbia". Able to Lead. Retrieved March 13, 2017. 
  • Peter Campbell, Canadian Marxists and the Search for a Third Way. Montreal & Kingston: McGill University Press, 1999.
  • Ian McKay, Reasoning Otherwise: Leftists and the People's Enlightenment in Canada,1890-1920.
  • A. Ross McCormack, Reformers, Rebels and Revolutionaries: The Western Canadian Radical Movement 1899-1919. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1977, reprinted 1991.
  • History of the Socialist Party of Canada, by J.M. Milne (1973).