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GLOCKLING, ROBERT, bookbinder, labour leader, and civil servant; b. 1 Aug. 1854 in London, England, son of Peter Glockling, a painter, and Elizabeth —; m. first 14 Nov. 1874 Margaret McDonald (McDonnell) (d. 1894) in Toronto, and they had three daughters and two sons; m. secondly in or before 1900 Hannah —, and they had two children; d. 6 Feb. 1913 in Indianapolis, Ind.

At age 12, after 3 years of work, Bob Glockling was apprenticed as a bookbinder to Waterloo and Sons in London. In 1868 the family immigrated to Toronto, where Bob completed his apprenticeship, at Copp, Clark and Company. In 1871 he joined the Toronto Bookbinders’ Benevolent Association, and the following year he participated in the “nine hour” movement for a reduction of working hours. In the aftermath of the movement’s failure and the printers’ strike of 1872 [see John Armstrong*], Glockling found himself unemployed. He spent much of the next two years tramping and working in the western United States, and returned to Toronto in 1874.

In the early 1870s Glockling had joined the Orange order, affiliating to Lodge No.657, where his father was secretary. In late 1874 it charged him with having married a Roman Catholic and he was suspended. He appealed to the district lodge, which, upon finding that his wife was a Protestant at the time of their marriage, ruled in April 1875 that he had been unjustly expelled. He subsequently became master of Lodge 657 and a county master.

A foreman in the 1880s with the bookbinding firm of Samuel Edward Hall and then with Davis and Henderson, Glockling was a president of the Bookbinders’ Benevolent Association. On 25 Feb. 1886 it was reorganized as Hand-in-Hand Local Assembly 5743 of the Knights of Labor. After serving as its financial secretary and master workman, he became recording secretary of District Assembly 125 of the Knights in 1887, financial secretary in 1888, and treasurer the following year. In 1887 he had travelled to Philadelphia in an unsuccessful quest for funds from the general executive board for DA 125, which was suffering in the aftermath of the Toronto Street Railway strike of 1886 [see Sir Frank Smith*]. In 1889 he represented DA 125 at the General Assembly held in Denver, Colo.

In addition to these activities, Glockling held the presidency in 1889–90 of the Toronto Trades and Labor Council, which he would later represent on the Canadian National Exhibition Association and the Toronto Technical School Board. In 1883 Glockling and a number of council colleagues, among them painter Charles March*, printer Daniel John O’Donoghue*, and journalist Thomas Phillips Thompson*, had initiated the Trades and Labor Congress of Canada. Glockling served on its Ontario executive from 1890 to 1893.

With the collapse of LA 5743 in 1894 – part of the demise of the Knights in Ontario – Glockling joined Local 28 of the International Brotherhood of Bookbinders of North America, which had been chartered in 1893. Elected first vice-president in 1898, he was president from 1905 until his death. During this period he was also president of the board of governors of the International Allied Printing Trades Association. In his columns for the International Book-binder (Washington), the IBB organ, Glockling promoted the concerns of labour reformers of the day, particularly shorter working hours, labels verifying union manufacture, union control of the operation of machinery, and technical education. The organization of female binders also occupied a prominent place on the IBB’s agenda. Drawing on the ideology of the Knights, Glockling argued in 1905 that organization would benefit both sexes; in 1910 he told the annual convention of the IBB that “if the women were to receive equal pay with the men we would have no objections to her taking our place.”

Several members of the Glockling family worked in book manufacturing. Robert’s brothers William and Edward were bookbinders and belonged to LA 5743; an organizer for the IBB, William was president of the Trades and Labor Congress in 1909–10. Their sister May Darwin had spearheaded the organization in 1902 of the Toronto branch of the International Union Label League, formed to involve workers’ wives in the union label movement, and later became president of the Canadian Socialist League.

Politically Glockling was allied with Toronto Lib-Lab leaders D. J. O’Donoghue and Alfred Fredman Jury. In June 1900 the Liberal government of George William Ross appointed Glockling secretary of the newly created Bureau of Labour, established to collect and publish news and statistics relating to employment, wages, and hours of labour throughout Ontario. In 1906 the Toronto Globe described Glockling as “a man of sound judgment, judicial mind, and moderate view,” qualities that helped in his mediation of industrial disputes. His detailed reports as secretary leaned strongly towards the workingman, but at the same time, one historian has written, he believed that “labour’s interests were compatible with enlightened capitalism.” For instance, in 1903 he endorsed the formation of an employers’ association in Toronto. Once employers organized and overcame the detrimental effects of competitive capitalism, he maintained, they would see that high wages enhanced the purchasing power of the working class and would lead to increased sales and profits. In 1904 Glockling himself was vice-president of a workers’ venture, the Labor Temple Company Limited, created that year to secure a building for the use of labour.

In August 1906 Glockling resigned from the Bureau of Labour. Undoubtedly he was busy as president of the IBB; within the bureau his work had been thwarted by the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association and the new Conservative government of James Pliny Whitney. There was talk that Glockling might be run as a labour candidate in Toronto, but instead he and his family relocated to Indianapolis, the headquarters of the IBB. Plagued by ill health during his last year, he succumbed to stomach cancer in 1913 and was buried in Mount Hope Roman Catholic cemetery in Toronto. To meet his concern for the well-being of his wife, Hannah, a Catholic, and the education of their children, a benefit fund was established by the members of the IBB.

In a eulogy the Toronto Daily Star recalled the strenuous days of the early labour movement in Toronto, when being known as a labour leader meant incurring social ostracism. Glockling, the Star stated, had never yielded in his conviction, and “the sincerity and honesty of purpose with which he fought, won the admiration of former bitter opponents.”

Gregory S. Kealey and Christina Burr

AO, RG 80-2; RG 80-5-0-54, no.11022; RG 80-8-0-180, no.23171. Mount Hope Cemetery (Toronto), Burial records, sect.2, lot 71. NA, RG 31, C1, Toronto, 1871, St John’s Ward, div.5: 65; 1881, St Patrick’s Ward, div.1: 53; 1891, St Patrick’s Ward, div.A: 96; 1901, Ward 3, div.13: 4 (mfm. at AO). Globe, 31 Aug. 1906. Labor Advocate (Toronto), 1891. Toronto Daily Star, 8 Feb. 1913. World (Toronto), 7 Feb. 1913. John Battye, “The nine hour pioneers: the genesis of the Canadian labour movement,” Labour (Halifax), 4 (1979): 25–56. Christina Burr, “Class and gender in the Toronto printing trades, 1870–1914” (phd thesis, Memorial Univ. of Nfld, St John’s, 1992). Canadian men and women of the time (Morgan; 1912). Paul Craven, “An impartial umpire”: industrial relations and the Canadian state, 1900–1911 (Toronto, 1980). Directory, Toronto, 1871/72–1900. Eugene Forsey, Trade unions in Canada, 1812–1902 (Toronto, 1982). International Book-binder (Washington), 1900–12. G. S. Kealey, Toronto workers respond to industrial capitalism, 1867–1892 (Toronto, 1980; repr. 1991). G. S. Kealey and B. D. Palmer, Dreaming of what might be: the Knights of Labor in Ontario, 1880–1900 (Toronto, 1987). Prov. Grand Orange Lodge of Ontario West, Report of the proc. (Toronto), 1895. Wayne Roberts, Honest womanhood: feminism, femininity and class consciousness among Toronto working women, 1893 to 1914 (Toronto, 1976); “Studies in the Toronto labour movement, 1896–1914” (phd thesis, Univ. of Toronto, 1978).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Gregory S. Kealey and Christina Burr, “GLOCKLING, ROBERT,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 14, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed August 20, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/glockling_robert_14E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/glockling_robert_14E.html
Author of Article: Gregory S. Kealey and Christina Burr
Title of Article: GLOCKLING, ROBERT
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 14
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1998
Year of revision: 1998
Access Date: August 20, 2014