Rebel Youth
252 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:15 Jan 2015
Release Date:22 Jul 2014
Release Date:30 Jul 2014

Rebel Youth

1960s Labour Unrest, Young Workers, and New Leftists in English Canada

UBC Press

During the “long sixties” – between 1964 and 1973 – baby boomers raised on democratic postwar ideals demanded a more egalitarian society for all. While a few became vocal leaders at universities across Canada, nearly 90% of Canada’s young people went straight to work after high school. There, they brought the anti-authoritarian spirit of the youth revolt to the labour movement.

While university-based activists combined youth culture with a new brand of radicalism to form the New Left, young workers were pressing for wildcat strikes and defying their aging union leaders in a wave of renewed militancy that swept the country. In Rebel Youth, Ian Milligan looks at these converging currents, demonstrating convincingly how they were part of a single youth phenomenon. With just short of seventy interviews complementing the extensive use of archival records, this book reveals a youth current that, despite regional differences, spanned an intellectual network from Halifax to Victoria that read the same publications, consulted the same thinkers, and found inspiration in the same shared ideas.

Rebel Youth draws important connections between the stories of young workers and the youth movement in Canada, claiming a central place for labour and class in the legacy of this formative decade.

This book will be of interest to scholars and students of Canadian history, the global sixties, student and youth movements, and labour history.


  • 2015, Shortlisted - The Sir John A. Macdonald Prize, Canadian Historical Association
A highly readable and important work that brings young Canadians who were in the workforce – rather than attending university – into the conversation about what the social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s were all about. James Pitsula, author of New World Dawning: The Sixties at Regina Campus
...Milligan’s study is a welcome addition to the growing literature on the long sixties, which highlights the diversity and complexity of the era that has heretofore escaped popular memories of it. Kevin Brushett, Royal Military College of Canada, British Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol. 29 No. 2, Fall 2016
By bringing the story of working-class activism into the history of the sixties, Milligan adds a crucially important dimension to the study of the period. A must-read for anyone interested in the 1960s in particular, or Canadian history more generally. Sean Mills, author of The Empire Within: Postcolonial Thought and Political Activism in Sixties Montreal
Ian Milligan is an assistant professor of Canadian and digital history at the University of Waterloo.


1 The Challenge of Rebel Youth

2 Punching In, Walking Out: The Challenge of Young Workers

3 Say Goodbye to the Working Class? New Leftists Debate Social Change

4 Leaving Campus: The Outward-Looking New Left in Ontario, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan

5 Cold, Slogging Solidarity: Supporting Labour on Picket Lines in Ontario and Nova Scotia, 1968-72

6 A Relationship Culminates: The 1973 Artistic Woodwork Strike



Selected Bibliography


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