Lunch-Bucket Lives takes the reader on a bumpy ride through the history of Hamilton's working people from the 1890s to the 1930s. It ambles along city streets, peers through kitchen doors and factory windows, marches up the steps of churches and fraternal halls, slips into saloons and dance halls, pauses to hear political speeches, and, above all, listens for the stories of men, women, youths, and children from families where people relied mainly on wages to survive. Heron takes wage-earning as a central element in working-class life, but also looks beyond the workplace into the households and neighbourhoods—settlement patterns and housing, marriage, child care, domestic labour, public health, schooling, charity and social work, popular culture, gender identities, ethnicity and ethnic conflict, and politics in various forms—presenting a comprehensive view of working-class life in the first half of the twentieth century.
This book has been published with the help of a grant from the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, through the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, using funds provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Craig Heron is a professor of history at York University. He is one of Canada’s leading labour historians and is the author of numerous works on Canadian history includingThe Workers Festival: A History of Labour Day in Canada, andBooze: A Distilled History.
All readers ofLunch-Bucket Lives will be stimulated by the rich history the author paints.
Expansive in reach, engaging in style, and filled with fascinating local details,Lunch-Bucket Lives is "total history" at its best
Rodolfo Walsh, Argentinean writer killed by the dictatorship in 1976, said "bosses don’t want workers to know their history because workers that don’t know their history are always starting again."Lunch-Bucket Lives is a complex, detailed and rich description of working class life that deserves to be read.
Lunch-Bucket Lives is exhaustively researched and documented,… a thoroughly engaging history… will prove a model as much for historians engaged in labour history as it will for those conducting community or local history.
Craig Heron, one of Canada's leading social historians, delivers inLunch- Bucket Lives an outstanding histoire totale of Hamilton's workers in the first four decades of the twentieth century
Like a well-stocked lunch bucket, this beautifully crafted and illustrated book will both nourish and delight its readers. The research is prodigious, the analysis sophisticated, the prose accessible, even moving. The most inclusive history yet of a working-class community in Canada,Lunch Bucket Lives brings to life the city’s many diverse men, women, girls and boys.
Craig Heron captures the essence of Hamilton like few other historians; he tells the story of the city’s working class during the fifty years prior to WWII with the critical eyes of an outsider and the heart of an intimate lover.
With an eloquence and liveliness unique among Canadian social historians, Heron integrates gender, class, ethnicity, race and ideology in an original and sophisticated narrative. The polished product of a half-century of devoted research and analysis,Lunch-Bucket Lives is, quite simply, a masterpiece.
[A ] book that looks as delicious as it reads, Craig Heron beautifully mixes narrative and image in telling the story of how Hamilton grew up over the past century. But he tells that story from the point of view of the many thousands of employees who used to work in that city’s manufacturing sector – a different approach, and very accessible.
A momentous scholarly achievement.
This is a great book, and I'm very glad I read it.