Union Songs

The Ballad Of Ginger Goodwin

A song by Richard von Fuchs©Richard von Fuchs 1978

Ginger Goodwin is a name you don't often hear or see.
They don't say a word about him in our country's history.
He was a labour leader and he wouldn't go to war.
"While the army breaks our strikes at home, its strikers I'll fight for."

In Trail back in the summer of 1917.
Ginger fought against conscription even though he was class D.
But when he led a miners' strike to spread the eight hour day
Conscription checked him out again and found he was class A.

Ginger hid from cops and soldiers in the hills near Cumberland.
Miners brought him food and sheltered him, they knew he was their friend.
So the bosses hired special cops when their power was at stake.
Dan Campbell murdered Goodwin at the head of Comox Lake.

The whole damn town of Cumberland turned out for the funeral hike.
Vancouver's workers shut her down for a one day general strike.
Soldiers back from foreign wars then attacked the labour hall.
Both the bosses and the workers knew who caused the Czar's downfall.

You can still see Ginger's grave along the road to Cumberland.
He didn't win no medals and no one understands.
Don't tell me that a hero has to die in foreign lands.
We lost heroes here in labour's wars and they all had dirty hands.


Many thanks to Richard von Fuchs for permission to add this song to the Union Songs collection. Thanks too to Bob Stubbs for sending the song and the information below.

At a Regional Park on Comox Lake near the town of Cumberland, British Columbia, the Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers Union has erected a sign memorialising labour martyr Ginger Goodwin, who is buried in the local cemetary under a stone inscribed "A Workers' Friend".  One side of the sign carries the words to "The Ballad Of Ginger Goodwin", made by Richard von Fuchs, who was later an activist with the Ferry Workers' union. 

Richard writes:
"I sang it in public first in 1978 at an NDP rally in Cumberland with the national press there and TV. I had not really learned the lyrics down pat, so I scotch taped them to the BACK of my guitar. Duh!   It is quite a feat to sing, play, and read the back of one's guitar.  After that I vowed to REALLY learn lyrics before trying to perform again.

I sang it again at Comox Lake when they renamed the mountain "Ginger Goodwin," and a fellow in a bathing suit sat in the dust and took a video.  That night I saw and heard my performance on CTV national news.

Somebody once heard my song on CBC without attribution. It is the only song I ever really worked hard on, and I am still unhappy with the line "funeral hike" but nothing better has come to my consciousness".

Other songs about Ginger Goodwin have been written and issued on CD by Gordon Carter, Joe Keithley, and Rodney Decroo.

Union Songs also has a brief article about Ginger Goodwin here:  http://unionsong.com/reviews/memorial.html

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