Welcome to the On to Ottawa historical Society website.
In 1935 hundreds of single unemployed men hopped freight trains for Ottawa demanding work, wages and an end to government relief camps. Their historic On to Ottawa Trek was one of the highlights of the severe economic depression of 1929-39. It led to many of the social programs we enjoy today. This site is intended to keep alive the spirit, the memories and the lessons of the trek. Enjoy your time here and please let us know what you think.

75th Anniversary poster

The On to Ottawa 75th Committee and the On to Ottawa Historical Society marked the 75th Anniversary of the On to Ottawa trek on Sunday June 6, 2010 at Crab Park in Vancouver.

Speakers included Vancouver East MP Libby Davies,  BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair, acting Mayor and Vancouver City Council member Tim Stevenson, Impact on Community Coalition's Am Johal, other special guests and music. A commemorative plaque was unveiled to mark the spot the trek first began in 1935. View video.

Website launch party

Video highlights from our Website Launch Party
We launched this website on April 4, 2002. The 1935 Relief Camp Workers Strike that became the On to Ottawa trek began on April 4, 1935. Three veterans of the 1935 trek helped us celebrate. A short video with highlights of this event is online. For Broadband video click for RealVideo and Windows Media Player and QuickTime formats; for Dialup video click for RealVideo and Windows Media Player and QuickTime formats.

Monument in Ottawa to the Mac Paps

National 'Mac Pap' Monument Dedicated in Ottawa
On October 20, 2001 a beautiful monument was dedicated in Ottawa to recognize Canada's Mackenzie Papineau Battalion. The 1600 'Mac Paps' were part of the International Brigades of volunteer anti-fascists from 53 countries around the world. They fought with Spanish Republican forces against Franco's fascists in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Many Mac Paps had been On to Ottawa trekkers. Click here for video highlights.

OTO plaque unveiled in Regina by 1935 trekkers.

On to Ottawa Plaque Unveiled in Regina
A plaque commemorating the On to Ottawa trek was unveiled June 7, 2001 in Regina Saskatchewan near Scarth Street and Eleventh Aveneue, the site of some of the most intense fighting between police and trekkers during the July 1, 1935 "Regina Riot". Click here for video highlights.

Tom Haken with his banjo

Hold the Fort!
The music you hear when you open this page is from "Hold the Fort" the anthem of the 1935 On to Ottawa trek. This version was recorded by Vancouver based cultural worker Tom Hawken in 1986 for "Hold the Fort", a cassette tape release sold to raise funds for strike support. Hear the complete song as a QuickTime file, as a RealAudio file or as a Windows Media file. Or, download an mp3 version of Hold the Fort.

Bobby Jackson

Site Dedication
This site is dedicated to one of the 1935 On to Ottawa trekkers: Robert "Bobby" Jackson who died June 27, 2000. He was a life long labour and social justice activist, a Communist and the first President of the On to Ottawa Historical Society. Bobby was also a good friend and inspiration to many of us. It was his initiative which resulted in this site being built. Click here for webvideo of the memorial service for Bobby Jackson.

This site is searchable

On to Ottawa Historical Society
Ph: (604) 254 0703

This page updated 15/02/2013