The Labour Man

Major George W. Andrews, D.S.O.
8th (Little Black Devils) BattalionAndrews

Until a few years ago, it was believed that to maintain peace you had to prepare for war and to have big armaments. Some people believe it to-day, but millions of people know that it is a lie; millions of women know that it is a lie; millions of soldiers know that it is a lie.

(Andrews, Debates, 2 Mar 1921, 474)

George William Andrews was born in Oxfordshire, England on 9 September 1869. He immigrated to Canada in 1890, settled in Winnipeg, worked in real estate and joined the 90th Rifles Regiment. He fought at Second Ypres with the 8th Battalion alongside his son, Captain George Frank Andrews. The elder Andrews was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry in January 1916 but was soon forced from the field due to chronic asthma. One of his soldiers remembered him as “a grand old man” but regretted, “Too bad he was so old.”

In the December 1917 federal election, Andrews won the riding of Winnipeg Centre with a unprecedented majority of 20,000 votes. He received 7,941 soldier votes compared to 330 for his opponent. Sitting as a Unionist, the former Liberal Andrews shunned partisan affiliation in favour of advocating on behalf of returned soldiers.


Archives of Manitoba

He sympathized with strikers in Winnipeg during the General Strike and defended protesting soldiers against the label of Bolshevism . Andrews hoped veterans’ shared experience of the war would remove class distinctions and create a better society:

I remember that once it was my duty to help bury in one orchard all classes and all ranks of the sons of Canada and there lie, if my memory serves, the son of a senator, the son of a millionaire and the son of a labour union leader in one shell hole.

Increasingly disillusioned with the Union Government after the war, he moved to the cross benches in March 1920. He felt political leaders where abandoning the veterans in an attempt to restore Canada to its prewar position rather than build a new, fairer nation. Predicting the collapse of the Conservative Party, he ran for re-election as an independent in December 1921 but came in as distant fifth to Labour candidate J. S. Woodsworth.

Andrews died of a heart attack in Winnipeg on 5 November 1943.

Digitized Service File (LAC):

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