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David Archer

Section 3, Lot 1005
Pine Hills Cemetery


David Archer was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on January 11, 1912 and moved to Canada with his family in 1920. He was raised in east-end Toronto and adopted his stepfather’s Labour party ideals. When he entered the workforce, Archer was fired more than once for trying to organize a union. He used the time between jobs to further his education, and to travel Northern Ontario with Dr. Norman Bethune to raise money for the anti-Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. He led campaigns to keep Trotskyites out of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, the forerunner of the New Democratic Party. After serving for many years as President of the Ontario Federation of Labour, David Archer was caught in a squeeze between two of Canada’s largest unions, the United Steelworkers of America and the United Auto Workers. They insisted he had run out of steam and shouldn’t seek another term in the 1976 elections. Instead, they backed auto worker Cliff Pilkey, and Archer lost. In May of 1976, then-premier William Davis, praising Archer’s political savvy, said of him “(Archer) has such a keen political mind that had he been alive in the 16 century, Machiavelli would have gone into dressmaking.” David Archer was a member of the Order of Canada, a member of the Ontario Economic Council, a director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, a founder of the United Appeal, on the board of governors of York University, and chairman of the Toronto Housing Authority. He died in February of 1989 at the age of 77.

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