The Village of Cumberland wants to rename one of its streets this spring in honour of Albert “Ginger” Goodwin, the storied labour activist who died in Cumberland in 1918.
Village council unanimously approved a motion at its March 12 meeting to start a public consultation process for renaming the northwest part of Minto Road to Ginger Goodwin Way.
Minto Road is located off of the Comox Valley Parkway.
The intention to change the street’s name is due to the centennial anniversary of Goodwin’s death, which will occur this summer and be commemorated at the 33rd annual Miners Memorial weekend.
The three-day event takes place June 22–24.
Village planner Joanne Rees told council on Monday that before a street’s name can be changed, a public process should first occur to notify landowners and business owners on that street of the potential impacts.
According to Rees, changing a road’s name would bring small costs and inconveniences to people and businesses located on that road, who would have to change addresses on documents, driver’s licences, truck decals, invoices, advertising signage, etc.
She noted that only a gravel business is located on the portion of Minto Road that the Village intends to rename. Her report said that council could consider small compensation to the company.
Goodwin is a famous figure in Cumberland’s history as a coal mining community. His story has a prominent exhibit at the Cumberland Museum and Archives.
Known as “Ginger” for his bright red hair, Goodwin moved to Canada in 1909 from his native England. He initially landed in Nova Scotia before moving to B.C. in 1910, eventually arriving in Cumberland.
According to historians, Goodwin found the working conditions in the Cumberland mines “appalling,” which influenced his political radicalization. A dedicated socialist and union leader, he was a principal figure in the coal mining strike that took place on Vancouver Island from 1912–1914.
After being blacklisted by the coal mining company, Goodwin lived in Trail, where he ran unsuccessfully for public office as a representative of the Socialist Party in the 1916 provincial elections. He later returned to Cumberland.
Goodwin was killed in the Cumberland forests in 1918 by a constable while evading conscription for the First World War. While the constable, Dan Campbell, claimed he shot Goodwin in self-defence —Goodwin was equipped with a rifle while hiding out in the forest — many of Goodwin’s friends and defenders noted he was a pacifist.
He was killed on July 27, 1918, at the age of 31. Campbell was eventually found not guilty of manslaughter by a grand jury.