The life of Eugene T. Kingsley (1856-1929), an American-Canadian socialist who ran twice for the House of Representatives in the 1890s, three times for the Canadian House of Commons between 1908 and 1926 and another three times for the British Columbia Legislature between 1907 and 1909, has much to teach legal scholars, historians, and those working in the field of disability studies. Almost entirely unknown today, Kingsley was a double amputee who walked with a cane and artificial limbs. Radicalized after an industrial railway accident in Western Montana that resulted in the loss of his limbs while working as a brakeman for the St. Paul-based Northern Pacific Railway, Kingsley joined Daniel De Leon’s Socialist Labor Party (SLP) that sought to abolish a capitalist system it regarded as profoundly unjust. Running twice for the SLP for the House of Representatives in California, Kingsley was renowned as a fiery orator. After moving permanently to British Columbia in 1902, he went on to become a central leader of the Socialist Party of Canada and editor of its journal, the Western Clarion for many years, traveling throughout Canada to promote the socialist cause.
Over the course of a long career, he participated in and commented on many of the issues of the day including the anti-Asian race riots of 1907 in Vancouver, the bitter coal miners strike on Vancouver Island in 1913, the controversial rejection of hundreds of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu immigrants attempting to enter Canada aboard the Komagata Maru in 1914, Canada’s entry into World War I, the censorship of political dissidents including Kingsley during the course of the war, and the Winnipeg General Strike, a watershed event in Canadian labour history. In this Digital Archive and a forthcoming book under contract with UBC Press, professors Malhotra and Isitt document Kingsley’s political career and reflect on his forgotten legacy through the prism of critical disability theory.
AbletoLead.ca is the product of a co-operative effort spearheaded by Ravi Malhotra, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, at the University of Ottawa, and Benjamin Isitt, a doctoral candidate with the University of Victoria Faculty of Law. The Technical Director of the project is Shawn DeWolfe, a web programmer and designer based in Victoria, BC.
Malhotra and Isitt wish to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC) and the army of relentless research associates who contributed so much to this project from New Brunswick to California: Lucas Adams, Ann Andrezejewska, Margherita Barbagallo, Joe Berry, Victoria Chan, Patrick Craib, Carolyn Cunliffe, Amy Derickx, Dianne Hajdasz, Allison McMahon, Devanne O’Brien, Morgan Rowe, Tom Rorke, Justin Schwartz, Daniel Tucker-Simmons, Patrick Webber, Katherine “Kit” White and Paul Whiteley.
Robin Whitehead assisted with proofreading and Marie Danik served as translator for the French content on the site. A special thank you to the late Mark Valcour, a legendary figure at Carleton University, for his assistance with digitizing historical audiotapes. We will always remember his valuable role fondly.