Fonds PR3765 - Robert Atkin fonds

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Robert Atkin fonds

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    • Source of title proper: Title based on the provenance of the records.

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    • 1934-1998 (Creation)

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    Physical description

    0.12 m of textual records. – 2 audio discs [17 min.] : vinyl, 45 rpm.

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    Name of creator


    Biographical history

    Robert Atkin was born in Sheffield, England on July 24, 1903. He immigrated to Edmonton, Alberta in 1922 and began working for Canadian National Railway (CNR), where he would work until his retirement in 1964. During his time with CNR, he worked in the Coach Yard, Running Yard, and Mechanical Department in a wide variety of positions. During the Second World War, Atkin was seconded to the United States Army and worked as a railway traffic clerk for the construction of the Alaska Highway.

    Atkin's involvement in the labour movement began with his first job at CNR in 1922, when he joined the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen of America, and subsequently joined the Canadian Brotherhood of Railway Employees and Other Transport Workers in 1927 after a change in job title. He would remain involved in union activity for the remainder of his career, holding several positions within Alberta labour federations and councils beginning in 1948 when he was elected to the executive of the Edmonton District Labour Council (EDLC). He would go on to serve as the vice-president of the EDLC in 1952 and as the president from 1954 to 1957.

    From 1951 to 1953, Atkin served as president of the Industrial Federation of Labor of Alberta (IFLA), a former province-wide labour federation that amalgamated with the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) in 1956. He also served as the vice-president of IFLA in 1954 and 1955 and as the Northern vice-president of AFL in 1956 and 1957.

    Beyond the labour movement, Atkin was also active in provincial and federal politics, specifically with the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the New Democratic Party (NDP). In 1953 and 1957, Atkin stood unsuccessfully as the federal CCF candidate for Edmonton East and as the provincial CCF candidate for Edmonton Centre in 1952, 1955, and 1959. In 1958, Atkin was elected president of the Edmonton CCF and also served as president of the Edmonton Centre CCF Constituency Association from 1959 to 1961. In the early 1960s, Atkin took a leading role in the formation of the NDP in Alberta and across Canada.

    After his retirement, Atkin moved to Kelowna until re-locating back to Edmonton in 1986. Robert Atkin died in Edmonton on August 19, 2003 at the age of 100.

    Custodial history

    The records were created or collected by Atkin but were in the custody of the Edmonton District Labour Council, who donated the records to the PAA in 2011.

    Scope and content

    The fonds consists of records created or collected in the course of Atkin’s involvement with the labour movement, the CCF, and the NDP, and consists of NDP and CCF information pamphlets; convention programs from the AFL, IFLA, Canadian Congress of Labour, the Canadian Labour Congress, the CCF, and the NDP; union magazines; press clippings related to the labour movement, CCF, and NDP; notes from the founding conventions of the NDP; information pamphlets related to pensions and social security; United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) leaflets and stickers related to the 1998 boycott of Maple Leaf Foods; and two copies of The Battle of 66 Street, a two-song record recorded to support the UFCW strike at Gainers meatpacking plant in 1986.

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    Physical condition

    Immediate source of acquisition

    Jim Selby donated the records to the PAA in 2011 on behalf of the Edmonton and District Labour Council.


    Arrangement note: The fonds is arranged into the following series:

    • Series 0001: Cooperative Commonwealth Federation series
    • Series 0002: New Democratic Party series
    • Series 0003: United Food and Commercial Workers series
    • Series 0004: Pensions series
    • Series 0005: Labour Federations series

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      Script of material

        Language and script note

        The material is in English.

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        Restrictions on access

        Access Conditions: Audiovisual records must be duplicated prior to access.

        Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

        Use Conditions: Permission for use required. Subject to the Copyright Act.

        Finding aids

        File list is available.

        Associated materials

        More records related to Robert Atkin can be found in the Robert Atkin fonds at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta.


        Further accruals are not expected.

        General note

        Includes accession PR2012.0393.

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