Ray Stevenson (political activist)
Raymond Leslie "Ray" Stevenson (December 17, 1919 – August 24, 2004) was a writer and political activist in Canada. He was an executive member of the International Council for Friendship and Solidarity with Soviet People and Associate Editor of Northstar Compass - the organization's organ publication. Stevenson wrote articles for and worked on Northstar Compass for over 13 years. Stevenson was an executive member of the World Peace Congress which aimed to promote peaceful coexistence and nuclear disarmament. He was also a trade union organizer, activist and leader in Canada.
Stevenson was born near Virden, Manitoba. He began working in the gold mines of north-eastern Manitoba in 1938 but moved to Kirkland Lake, Ontario after being fired for being an "undesirable element". In Ontario, he worked for Upper Canada Mines and joined Local 240 of the militant Mine, Mill, and Smelters Union and participated in its 1941-1942 recognition strike.
He served in the Canadian Army from 1942 to 1946 serving as a 1st lieutenant but was not allowed to serve overseas during World War II due to his Communist affiliations. "There was a long delay in sending us through [officer training] while HQ was making up its mind what to do with some of us," recalled Stevenson. Ultimately, he assigned to develop a curriculum for soldiers about to be sent overseas which educated them on the nature of fascism. While warned not to teach the party line he was allowed to choose fellow Communist Sam Walsh as an aide and was eventually promoted to the rank of captain.
Stevenson requested that he be sent overseas several times but his requests were denied. He learned through "a clandestine source in army intelligence," that he "would not be shipped overseas for political reasons."
Following the war, Stevenson became the educational director for the Workers Co-op in northern Ontario and was also a political organizer for the Labor-Progressive Party and ran for the party in Timmins in the 1949 federal election.
Soon after joining Inco he was, in 1951, elected to the executive of Local 598 in Sudbury. He served on the Canadian executive board of Mine, Mill until 1961 when he became editor of the Mine Mill Herald. In 1967, Mine Mill was taken over by the United Steel Workers of America and Stevenson served as editor of the USWA's Information until 1972. From 1972 until 1978 he was the public relations director for USWA Canada.
Stevenson left the USWA in 1978 when he accepted a position as the Canadian Secretary for the World Peace Council in Finland, he subsequently served as the WPC's Trade Union Secretary and helped establish the International Union Committee for Peace and Disarmament in 1980. He was also active with the Canadian Peace Congress.
Stevenson opposed what he viewed as the Communist Party of Canada's tendency towards revisionism. After concluding that the CPC was no longer a Marxist party, he resigned from it after more than 60 years of membership. He was a founding editor of the anti-revisionist magazine Northstar Compass in 1991. In his final years he was an executive member of the International Council for Friendship and Solidarity with Soviet People.
Stevenson died on August 24, 2004 at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto after a long illness. His ashes were scattered in his native Manitoba at the site of his first school. He was survived by his wife Lil Greene.
Stevenson left $5,000 to Northstar Compass. The publication used it to start the "Ray Stevenson Sustaining Fund" to receive donations to help keep Northstar Compass in publication.
- Ken Hernden (Fall 2003). "Biographical Sketch" (PDF). York University Archives and Special Collections. Retrieved 2006-01-07.
- Lil Green (September 2004). "Obituary: Ray Stevenson". Northstar Compass. Retrieved 2007-01-07.
- Chris Fraser. "From Pariahs to Patriots: Canadian Communists and the Second World War". Archived from the original on 2009-07-30. Retrieved 2007-01-07.
- York University: The Ray Stevenson fonds biographical note by Ken Hernden of York University Archives and Special Collections