BCTF Online Museum

BCTF History Articles and Videos

BCTF 100 plaque

General history

When the B.C.T.F. Was Very Young

Harry Charlesworth was the first General Secretary of the BCTF.  For the 20thAnniversary he wrote about the first two decades of the development of the organization, as well as why it was important to have an organization that represented teachers. [TEACHER, December 1937]

Unsung Heroines of the BCTF

The role of a few women in the early history of the BCTF is chronicled by John Church in this article from 1984.  It is a few women—even though women made up a majority of the membership, the leadership was mostly held by men.

A redoubtable woman of wit and will. BCTF’s first woman President Hilda Cryderman

It wasn’t until 1954 that a woman was first elected as BCTF president.  Marian Dodds tells the story of Hilda Cryderman, who broke through many barriers.

90 Years of BCTF History

Ken Novakowski, then the Executive Director of the BCTF, wrote this article as a quick summary of events and programs of the BCTF over its first 90 years.

The BCTF:  We’ve come so far… A history in photos

Ken Novakowski prepared this booklet for the 90th anniversary of the BCTF.  It is organized by decade, with photos and a small amount of text.

Cheers to BC’s Teachers, for 100 Years of Wealth Creation

Jim Sinclair, past president of the BC Federation of Labour, paid tribute to the BCTF at its 100th Annual General Meeting in 2016.

Book review: Worlds Apart Indeed

Ken Novakowski wrote a critical review of Thomas Fleming's book Worlds Apart, British Columbia Schools, Politics and Labour Relations Before and After 1972.  Novakowski says "There can be no question that Fleming has conservative views on education and, in many respects, his book serves to make him an apologist for right-wing governments."

Terrace plaque

Bargaining and collective agreements

1981 Terrace teachers' strike

A strike in Terrace in 1981 was an important precursor and milestone in the journey to achieve full collective bargaining rights for teachers. By Janet Nicol, published by the BC Labour Heritage Centre.

BCTF action in an historical perspective

Ken Novakowski  frames the successful illegal strike of 2005 in the context of other times that it was necessary for the BCTF to take a drastic action in response to government actions harmful to education and to teachers.

Connie Jervis—a video story of gaining bargaining rights in the 1930s

Gaining the right to arbitration was a result of struggle by women in Langley under the leadership of Connie Jervis, as told in this video from The Knowledge Network and the Labour Heritage Society. Scroll down page to view Connie Jervis video.

The Hidden Legacy of Connie Jervis

Marcy Toms writes about an elementary teacher from Langley who, with colleagues, stood up to the school board when it refused to accept the decision of an arbitration board on teacher salaries. The result was a change in the law, forcing school districts to implement the rulings of arbitration boards.

Gaining full bargaining rights

Ken Novakowski says "It happened in 1987. B.C. teachers gained full collective bargaining rights. And the grantor was a most unlikely politician—Social Credit Premier Bill Vander Zalm."

New West Teachers Celebrate Making BC History…

So that's the way it happened

Ken Novakowski outlines key events in the development of the BCTF's ability to bargain the salaries of teachers.  He focuses on the New Westminster strike of 1921 and the Langley dispute in 1939-40.

Teacher rights and benefits:  Building on our past

Ken Novakowski gives a summary of key bargaining events building to the bargaining in 1999 which produced the collective agreement that was stripped by the BC Liberal government in 2002 and restored by the Supreme Court in 2016. Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 12, Number 1, September 1999

ProD teachers

Curriculum and professional development

BC’s “new” curriculum

British Columbia is in an intensified period of curriculum change. But is it new? 

Historical perspectives: Teachers, curriculum, and the BCTF

Ken Novakowski outlines a history of the BCTF's engagement in the development in the provincial curriculum.  The article is from 2006, before the significant contribution of BCTF appointed teachers in the curriculum changes that started in 2014.

Involvement: The Key to Better Schools—
“The report of the commission on education of the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation”

The BCTF played a key role in capturing the ideas of the 1960s that would frame education development in BC over the next decade, in particular. While most “commissions” on education have had government’s official stamp, the BCTF commission in 1968 broke the pattern. Four teachers and BCTF staff traveled the province and received hundreds of oral and written submissions about where education should go in the future. 

Solidarity Strike image

Solidarity movement–1983

Common Cause: The Story of the Operation Solidarity Coalition

Produced in 1984 by Barna-Alper Productions, National Union of Provincial Government Employees and Operation Solidarity. This video tells to story of the 1983 Solidarity strike in BC.

The Effect of the 1983 Solidarity Movement on the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation

Labour historian, Andy Hanson, presented this paper about Solidarity at the conference of the Canadian History of Education Association in 2016.  Hanson is writing a history of the BCTF.

Operation Solidarity 30 years later 

Ken Novakowski  looks at the impact on the BCTF of Operation Solidarity and the strike in 1983 on the development of the BCTF and protecting the rights of teachers.


This is a 3-minute video produced by the Labour Heritage Centre and the Knowledge Network about the Solidarity movement.
Scroll to the end of the page to view Solidarity.

The solidarity strike of 1983

Ken Novakowski writes about what he saw as "the most significant week of BCTF history in our lifetime."  The BCTF played an important role in a public sector strike, with both gains and challenges.