Monday, May 6, 2019

Party News: Lestor (1953)

Obituary from the March-April 1953 issue of The Western Socialist

Word came a few days ago that our old comrade, Charlie Lestor, died in London in mid December. He was 80 years old.

Since my first contact with socialist teaching, back in Vancouver in 1906, the Party in Canada has produced many extraordinary characters. Lestor was one of these and in some respects it is doubtful if his remarkable capacity for outdoor propaganda was ever excelled or even equalled. In Western Canada, in the earlier years of the century, he did trojan work in the formation of Socialist Party locals, and the theoretical knowledge that spread from these centers influenced workers throughout the continent.

The years Lestor spent in Vancouver are still remembered. There is a spot close to the heart of the city where the Party during these years held meetings regularly. Lestor was so frequently the speaker at these meetings that the place became known as Lestor's Corner. He not infrequently kept meetings going eight hours at a time, returning again and again to the soap-box as the other speakers tired.

He was perhaps the first propagandist to carry the message of socialism to Alaska. He also carried with him a degree of recklessness and boisterousness that would be frowned upon today, allowing himself to become embroiled in the militant affairs of the Alaska Labor Union even to the extent of raising the red flag over the town hall of a town that had been taken over by striking miners. From Alaska to the prairies Lestor was known to miners, lumber workers, fishermen, dockers, farmers and town workers. Wherever there was a soap-box, there went Lestor.

In the late 1920’s he came to Winnipeg to edit the One Big Union Bulletin, the weekly journal of the One Big Union, and demonstrated at once that his talents were not limited to the lecture platform and soapbox. Under his guidance the OBU Bulletin became a labor union journal with a distinctly socialist slant, so much so that he was often asked (and not always in gentle terms) if he realised that the Bulletin was not an organ of the S. P. of C. Ever the work-horse, Lestor wrote editorials that often filled a page, news sheet size, gathered most of the news items that were sprinkled through the journal and wrote a weekly column (usually extending to several columns) that bore the heading. Lestor’s Corner. He also found time to engage in the preliminary work that led to the reorganization of the Party in the early 1930s.

Lestor gave up his position on the OBU Bulletin in 1933 or ’34 and went to England shortly after, becoming a member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain in London. He remained active in the SPGB until he no longer had strength to be active.
A. P.

Blogger's Note:
Obituary for Charles Lestor from the January 1953 issue of the Socialist Standard.

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