William Moriarty, 1890-1936
William "Bill" Moriarty came to Canada from the U.K. in 1910. In May
1921, he attended the founding convention of the Communist Party of Canada
in Guelph, Ontario. He was expelled from the CPC in 1930, and became the
principal Canadian leader of the international current led by Jay
Lovestone in the U.S. and Heinrich Brandler in Germany. He died on April
The following articles appeared in Workers Age, the newspaper of
Lovestone’s U.S. group, then called the Communist Party (Opposition).
William Moriarty Dies Suddenly
[Workers Age, April 25, 1936]
Comrade William Moriarty, CPO leader in Canada, died suddenly last week
at the age of 45. In the next issue we will acquaint our readers with the
activities of this sterling proletarian fighter. His death constitutes an
irreparable loss to the communist movement.
The National Committee of the Communist Party Opposition expresses its
profoundest sorrow over the loss of its worthy and irreplaceable member
and coworker, Comrade William Moriarty. "Bill" as he was known to those of
us who were fortunate to have the opportunity of working closely with him,
was a proletarian of first calibre. He came to the Communist movement from
the left wing of the Socialist Party of Canada.
Comrade Moriarty was one of the founders of the Communist Party of
Canada. In the CP of Canada he served in leading capacities. On the basis
of his ability and sterling revolutionary character he rendered a service
to the Communist Party and labor movement of Canada in the capacity of
editor and business manager of the Canadian Worker and secretary of the CP
of Canada. "Bill" was a militant trade unionist of national standing. His
life and activities are a keen inspiration not only to all of us who have
worked intimately with him but to those of us who have fought shoulder to
shoulder with him in the class struggle and who are continuing on the path
trod by him.
Comrade Moriarty was born in London and died at the young age of less
than forty-six years. Coming to Canada in 1912, he was employed as a
harvest worker. He won his spurs in the Canadian trade union movement as a
militant fighter in the ranks of the building trades workers. "Bill"
from the finest type of proletarian family. He was a tin miner in
Cornwall, England; then, he worked as a laborer on the railways; later he
worked as a surface miner in Wales.
In the crisis in the Communist International Comrade Moriarty fought as
a Communist devoted above all to the principles of Communism and to the
cause of building a healthy Communist movement. That is why Comrade
Moriarty left position and power in the official Communist movement and
became the founder of the CP of Canada (Opposition).
The National Committee of the Communist Party U.S.A. Opposition is
deeply grieved at Comrade Moriarty’s parting from us at this early age in
his career as a veteran in the labor movement. To Comrade Martha Moriarty,
his wife, we convey our most heartfelt condolences. To the comrades of the
Canadian Communist Opposition we transmit our keenly felt sorrow. We are
confident that, inspired by the tireless energy, unflinching spirit, and
unquestionable loyalty and revolutionary ardor of Comrade Moriarty, the
Canadian comrades, following the leadership of him when alive, will follow
with even greater vigor the political course pursued by Comrade Moriarty.
BILL MORIARTY IS DEAD
[Workers Age, April 25, 1936]
Impossible to believe it. My eyes read and re-read the fateful lines,
but the mind refuses to follow them.
His boundless energy, his strong figure, his iron constitution are put
to rest for ever.
A gripping pain takes hold of me. A flame of inspiration has been put
out. A life so eventful and in full bloom has been cut too soon. Our
teacher and friend, our leader and comrade is no more with us.
Too fresh the wound—too painful the blow to estimate him now. But to
those who knew him and to those who heard him — to those who learned from
him and to those who worked with him—
Bill will never be forgotten.
His crystal-clear honesty, his boundless devotion to the cause of the
toilers of the world, his great revolutionary integrity—will for ever
remain a high example to be followed, a burning inspiration for ever
greater work and sacrifice.
We stand with bowed heads at the grave of Bill Moriarty, dauntless
revolutionary fearless fighter of the Canadian Proletariat. Our only
comfort—he hasn’t lived his life in vain. His hope in the last minutes of
his life was, that his work will be continued. With banners unfurled, let
us march forward to a better and more glorious life—to Victory—to
Socialism. The fulfillment of his Great Dream—Our Great Monument to him.
Organizer, Montreal Unit
Labor Movement Turns Out
for Funeral of William Moriarty
By Jim Cork
[Workers Age May 2 1936]
On Saturday and Sunday, April 18 and 19, workers of Toronto paid honor
to the memory of Comrade William Moriarty, outstanding working class
fighter, leader of the C.P.O. in Canada and a leading member of its
National Committee, who died suddenly on Tuesday, April 14.
On Saturday, April 18, hundreds of workers of every shade of political
opinion gathered quietly in the cemetery to say farewell to one whom they
felt as their own. Harry Hatfield of the C.P.O. of Toronto, Jack McDonald
of the Workers Party, Roger Cuyot, friend and C.P.O. sympathizer, Bill
Douglas, leading trade unionist, and Jim Cork member of the C.P.O.
National Buro, paid simple tribute to the life of an outstanding
On Sunday, April 19, close to 400 workers gathered at the Toronto Labor
Temple in a memorial tribute to Comrade Moriarty. The broad character of
the gathering offered eloquent testimony to the respect and esteem in
which Bill Moriarty was held by all sections of the labor movement of
Toronto. The speakers list included prominent representatives of
practically all sections of the labor movement: Harry Hatfield of the
C.P.O.; Jack McDonald of the Workers Party; Jack Buckley, Secretary of the
Toronto Trades and Labor Council; Alec Lyons, prominent trade unionist;
Martin Moriarty, brother of Bill; Tommy Mills of the League for a
Revolutionary Workers Party; Graham Spry, vice-president of the Ontario
section of the Canadian Commonwealth Federation and Editor of the "New
Commonwealth"; Bill Dennison of the Provincial Council of the C.C.F.;
Alice Buck of the Communist Party—she spoke for Tim Buck, the Secretary of
the C.P. who could not be present; and Jim Cork who acted as chairman.
Bill Moriarty was that rare type of revolutionist who inspired
confidence and respect wherever he went. All sections of the labor
movement held him in esteem. How well was this fact reflected at the
memorial meeting. Speaker after speaker, differing politically as they did
with Comrade Moriarty, yet paying eloquent tribute to Bill’s capability
and realism, his sincerity and life-long devotion to the interests of the
working class: The revolutionary movement can ill afford the loss of such
Bill Moriarty’s life was lived according to a simple pattern of
revolutionary clarity and proletarian integrity. Born in London 45 years
ago in a proletarian family he migrated to Canada just before the World
War. During the war period he was already an active socialist. With the
crumbling of international reformism during the war Bill developed quite
logically from left-wing socialism to Communism under the inspiration of
the Russian Revolution. He became one of the founders of the Communist
movement in Canada and labored heroically in many ways to put it on its
feet in the first difficult period. He was the first general secretary of
the Workers Party, which became the Communist Party of Canada in 1924. He
was a delegate to the enlarged executive of the Communist International in
1925. Until 1929 he was field organizer for the Communist Party in western
When the split came in the communist movement Moriarty unhesitatingly
took up the fight against ultra-leftism and was expelled. He took over the
leadership of the C.P.O. forces in Canada and was an active fighter in its
ranks to the day of his death.
He was extraordinarily successful as an expounder of Marxist and
Leninist principles and tactics. He leaves behind him as not the least
part of his heritage numerous young workers who were initiated and won to
the movement almost solely thru his efforts.
For the C.P.O. his loss is irreplaceable. But his comrades, especially
in Canada, close their ranks, gain renewed inspiration from a life so
worthy, determined, as the best way of honoring the memory of so sterling
a fighter, to carry on with even greater vigor the struggle which he
carried on to the very end — for the unification of the world communist
movement on a correct revolutionary basis.
The ICO Mourns the Death
of Comrade William Moriarty
[Workers Age, May 23, 1936]
The statement printed below was addressed to our Canadian comrades by
the International Communist Opposition. Comrade Heinrich Brandler who had
the opportunity to meet Moriarty thought very highly of his capabilities
as an organizer and educator.—Ed.
April 30, 1936
To the C.P.O. of Canada:
We are deeply shocked by the news of the sudden death of Comrade
We have retained a very vivid memory of the discussion we had with him
two years ago. Our conference with him convinced us that William Moriarty
was an extraordinarily devoted comrade. Our discussion revealed him to be
not only a sincere revolutionary but also a politically well-developed
communist. Tho he did not attempt to conceal the difficulties of building
our group in Canada, we were convinced that he would make all efforts to
do everything humanly possible. He kept his promise. He laid the
foundations for our group in Canada.
You will miss William Moriarty in your future activities. His
thirty-years experience in the English and Canadian labor movement will no
longer be at your disposal. This is a great loss not only for your small
group but also for the I.C.O. You must now work more closely together in
order to fill the gap. Your efforts to continue his excellent work will
give you and us the possibility to honor his memory as it should be
We herewith express our deepest sympathy with the C.P.O. section of
Canada and pledge ourselves to work for the realization of the task
Comrade Moriarty set for himself along the lines he laid down.
For the International Communist Opposition
(Signed) Heinrich Brandler
[ Top ] [
Obituaries Index ]