A Story of Canadian Anti-Fascists in Spain: Ron Liversedge and the Publication of Mac-Pap

March 21, 2016

David Yorke

Monday, March 21, 7:00PM–9:00PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

Co-presented by SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement

A battalion of working class Canadians travels to Spain in 1937 to take up arms against Fascism, fighting on behalf of an elected Popular Front government against the might of Mussolini and Hitler. Ronald Liversedge was one of those who went, serving in the fabled Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion. He tells that story in a gripping, volunteer’s-eye-view memoir. Who was he? Why did he go? And why did his book only see publication just as the very last Mac-Pap veteran was dying? The Canadian role in the Spanish Civil War remains a subject of compelling and enduring interest.   

Ron Liversedge (1899 – 1974) was a self-educated manual worker who wrote Recollections of the On To Ottawa Trek (McClelland & Stewart, 1974), the first description of what has come to be recognized as a defining event in Canada’s inter-war social history. His memoir of the Spanish war, published posthumously, is a significant addition to the literature on that subject.

David Yorke is a charter graduate of Simon Fraser University (BA majoring in Canadian history), where he did early writing on the left wing labour movements of the 1930’s; subsequently graduating with a degree in law from UBC and practicing as counsel to BC unions over a three decade career. In retirement, he undertook to edit Ron Liversedge’s Spanish manuscript, and see it through to publication (New Star Books, 2013).