In Dresden, Ontario businesses refused to comply with the Fair Accommodation Practices Act the same year it was enacted. Ruth Malloy and Bromley Armstrong and other activists from the Toronto-based Joint Labour Committee for Human Rights conducted sit-ins in Dresden restaurants 61 years ago. The sit-ins tested the owners’ non-compliance with the law, and then using that information to urge Premier Frost to eventually press charges against the restaurant owners. The owners were taken to court and the law held; the legal case was Canada’s first successful test of laws making discrimination illegal. Armstrong played a figurative role in the sit-ins, on one occasion calmly demanding service of a bigoted restaurant owner, who was angrily wielding a meat cleaver in his restaurant kitchen.
We present three videos. The first is by the Toronto and York Region Labour Council which an interview withRuth Malloy. The second is a short segment on CBC National which interviews Bromley Armstrong. The third an National Film Board documentary entitled the Dresden Story, which is a documentary made at the time of the sit-ins showcasing racial attitudes in Dresden itself.