On to Ottawa Trek anniversary commemorated at Crab Park

Former trekker Ken Hoggarth (right) unveils the plaque to be mounted at the Main Street Overpass to commemorate the 1935 On to Ottawa Trek.

Several hundred gathered at Crab Park this afternoon to mark the 75th anniversary of the On to Ottawa Trek, the epic protest that began on Vancouver’s waterfront on June 3, 1935, as 1,200 unemployed workers clambered on to box cars to travel to Ottawa demanding “work and wages.”

Ken Hoggarth, who was 18 when the Trek set off, delivered a remarkable speech about the impact of the Depression and his experiences during the long protest, which ended in a violent police riot in Regina.

In a time when global economic crisis is again in the news, the desperate struggles of the 1930s seem more relevant than ever.

The On to Ottawa Trek Society unveiled a plaque that will be mounted on the bridge at the north foot of Main Street, just a few hundred metres from where the Trek began.

A number of Vancouver housing activists, including Am Johal, used the event to launch their own trek to Ottawa to demand a national housing strategy.