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L.A. Beat

Galt examines Great Western Garment Company for Labour Day

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Leslie Hall examines a PoW  unform made by the GWG company. Photo by Richard AmeryThere is a lot more to blue jeans than just comfortable, all purpose pants for every occasion. The GWG company has a long and storied history in Alberta.
So, with that in mind, the Galt Museum has a special program lined up for Labour Day, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.

GWG: Piece By Piece explores the history of Edmonton’s  Great Western Garment Company  with a special free presentation of GWG: Piece By Piece, which includes Juno nominated  folk singer Maria Dunn as well as a multi-media presentation with historian  Catherine C. Cole who is an expert on unions, particularly their effect on women workers in the early twentieth century.

“We’re starting with a  talk from Catherine Cole who will be speaking about the history of the GWG garment factory in Edmonton,” said Leslie Hall,  Community Program Co-ordinator.

“The workers there formed the very first union in Alberta. They helped improve working conditions for a lot of Albertan women and  seamstresses,” Hall continued adding the production has been shown at several Alberta museums.

Admission is free as 11 different unions are sponsoring it. (Alberta Federation of Labour, Lethbridge Local, Prairie Region, Lethbridge CUPE, Local 290 Lethbridge, the Health Sciences Association of  Alberta, Lethbridge and District Labour Council, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, United Steelworkers and CUPE 4791)

The show also features the music of  Scottish born, Alberta based, Juno-nominated folk-singer Maria Dunn who writes a lot of historical themed songs about the working class. She will be playing in between videos.

“The video is a feature of collection of oral history, reviews and and archival footage,” Hall continued.
“ There is an interesting local connection. GWG actually made the uniforms the prisoners wore in  the POW camp we had here during the Second World War,” she observed.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
A version of this story appears in the Sept. 1 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
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