I figured there is no better way to kick off the “charter” President’s Blog post than with our Charter itself. This is actually a photo of our second Charter as you can see that this was issued in 1902, not 1898, after Local 63 in Winnipeg was brought into the Alliance and the name was officially changed from the National Alliance of theatrical Stage Employes (sic) to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employe(e)s. The addition of Local 63 brought the total number of Canadian Locals to three after Local 56 in Montreal (1898) and us, Local 58 Toronto (also 1898). When asked “who is Local 57?” all I can say is this: It wasn’t Canadian and it doesn’t exist anymore. That’s all I got. Both versions of our Charter hang in our Local 58 offices for those who want to see them in person.
Throughout our history Local 58 has had Locals merge into it such as Local 488 in 1921 and Local 173 in 2006. Local 488 was a Local for “Clearers”. Clearers, who we would now call truck loaders, carried the sets in from the horse-drawn vans and laid it on the stage. Local 173 was one of the original Projectionist Locals in the International, formed when film was just in its infancy. We have also seen Locals like Local 873, the Film and Television workers local in Toronto born from our membership and form it’s own local in 1958.
As we continue to grow, it is always important to remember how it all began. For more information on the History of Local 58, we have a six part history write up under the About tab on our website, just above where you stumbled upon this blog. This quick history lesson takes us up to our 100th anniversary back in 1998 and hopefully we can have the early 2000’s written up soon.
If you have the time here is the video that was produced for Local 58’s 100th anniversary back in 1998. It is worth the time to watch and learn as well as be able to put some faces to the names in our history that are still referenced today. Yes it is dated. It does go to show how far we’ve come in the 23 years since, but also emphasizes how far we still need to go. Note: This video includes a short clip of Al Jolson in blackface. Though Jolson’s performance is a part of theatrical history, it serves as a stark reminder of the importance of changing attitudes in our industry, even within the last few decades, and the continued efforts we must all make to battle systemic racism and discrimination in the arts.
For more on the History of Ambrose Small you can Read Katie Daubs’ book: The Missing Millionaire
Also a must watch is the below video of the History of the International. It was put together for the 125th anniversary of the IATSE and is a great little history lesson of the union as a whole.
I felt the blog needed to start with where it all began: Our Charter and Our History. This blog will look at everything Local 58. From Member profiles, to our history, labour news, employer news, COVID-19 updates, you name it we will cover it here. I hope everyone will enjoy reading it as much as I hope to enjoy writing it.