Rowley, Robert Kent, 1917-1978

Identity area

Type of entity


Authorized form of name

Rowley, Robert Kent, 1917-1978

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence



Kent Rowley was an important figure in the history of the Canadian trade union movement. He spent a considerable amount of time locked up for his activism, starting with a two-and-a-half year internment (1940-42) at Petawawa for refusing conscription. The next year the United Textile Workers of America, an affiliate of the AFL, hired him as their Canadian director. In 1946 he and fellow organizer Madeleine Parent organized workers to strike at the Valleyfield factory of the Montreal Cotton Company, Canada’s largest textile plant at the time and where the employees, mainly women and children, worked a 60-hour week. The illegal strike, which lasted 100 days, landed Rowley in jail for six months, but he and Parent managed to negotiate the first collective agreement in the company’s history. The clergy and management were not pleased with their actions, however, and in 1952, Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis joined in. He accused the two of sedition, and ordered Parent, whom Rowley married the following year, arrested five times. Rowley lost his job at UTWA for alleged (but false) Communist ties. This experience convinced him that Canada should have its own labour organizations free from American interference. By 1968 he had helped establish the Canadian Confederation of Trade Unions. Although the CCTU, where he became secretary-treasurer, remained a small group, it was a major influence in a wave of breakaways of Canadian workers from American unions during the 1970s and 80s.


Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Access points area

Subject access points

Place access points


Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion




Maintenance notes

  • Clipboard

  • Export

  • EAC

Related subjects

Related places