Coopers’ International Union Local 3
Born in Ireland, John Hewitt came to Canada as a child with his parents in 1847. By the 1860s, he had begun apprenticing as a cooper. Later that same decade, Hewitt moved to New York City and over the next three years played an active role in labour organizations there. Returning to Toronto to work as a cooper at Gooderham and Worts, he organized Local 3 of the Coopers’ International Union and several more across Ontario. In 1871, he and two other coopers approached other Toronto unions about starting a new central labour body. On April 12, 1871, the Toronto Trades Assembly was founded with Hewitt as the first president and later as secretary. One year later, he became an active proponent of the nine-hour day and a prominent voice in promoting labor reform in the Trades Assembly and in the new Canadian Labor Union. As a loyal Conservative, he got a job in the new waterworks department in 1873, withdrawing from the labour movement. Hewitt would work in the department for the rest of his life. He also became a leader in the Orange Order.