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Toronto is Nervous (1919)

Chapter 2 of Canadian Bolsheviks described the creation of the first Communist groups in Canada, in Southern Ontario, and the outrage these illegal organizations provoked in the press and conservative circles by late night leaflet distributions in Toronto and other cities. Two of the leaflets, Peace and the Workers, and May Day, are posted on this site.

Peter Campbell of Queens University sent us the following commentary on that uproar: it appeared in the April 18, 1919 edition of The Soviet, published by Local #1 of the Socialist Party in Edmonton, Alberta.

Toronto Is Nervous
As "Reds" Bombard City With Leaflets

Twice Canadians Have Awakened to Find Bolshevist Literature on Doorsteps – Police Are Helpless

Toronto is somewhat nervous over the inability of the police, despite their best efforts, to discover the headquarters of the "Provisional Council of Soldiers and Workers for Canada," a Bolshevist organization which even the most skeptical have been forced to concede is a reality.

Twice in recent days, Toronto has awakened to find its doorsteps decorated with printed four-page messages addressed to soldiers and workers, explaining the principles of Bolshevism and calling upon the population to rise and throw off the shackles of capitalism.

In labor circles a radical element has made its appearance. The same is true of the soldiers’ organizations. In both instances the radicals have reached numerical proportions enabling them to challenge the conservative elements for supremacy.

Government officials who are watching the new movement are being relied upon by the conservatives to suppress any really menacing organization. These conservatives believe that there are scores of palliatives which can relieve the situation.

But still Toronto is nervous. In spite of all its optimism it has to face the actual fact that it has a Bolshevist organization in its very midst, that tens of thousands of revolutionary circulars are being distributed among its workers – and the police cannot find the sources.

It is too suggestive of the revolutionary efficiency of the publishers of Belgian papers, circulated directly under the noses of the German conquerors. So Toronto is nervous.

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