Canada in the 1920's
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  Canada in the 1920's


Introduction to Canadian History
Manitoba, BC, PEI Join Canada
The Dream
The Northwest Rebellion
Canada During...
The Effects...
Canada in the 1920's
The Great Depression ...
Escaping the Great Depression
World War II ...
Canada's Contribution...
Chapter 2
Chapter 3


Canada in the 1920's


bullet- Soldiers returning home from World War I expected to find good jobs instead they were faced with unemployment, rising prices and strikes. Significant changes were also taking place such as the new role of women, prohibition (the ban on liquor) and urbanization.
bullet-In the mid-1920's the economy turned around and gradually more people could afford new luxuries such as automobiles and radios. People enjoyed the excitement of investing in the stock market. It seemed as though prosperity would last forever.

I. Prohibition:

bullet- The 1920's were called the "Roaring Twenties" for a variety of reasons as it was a time of glamour and prosperity for many. It appeared that people were making up for the misery of the war by enjoying many new forms of entertainment:

1. "Hot" jazz

2. Dance halls

3. Moves

4. Radio

5. Cars

bullet- The 1920's were also a time of crime, corruption and extreme poverty for some. Much of the crime centered around Prohibition. bullet-Prohibition was introduced for a couple of reasons:

1. The grain used to make alcohol could be used to feed people

2. Money spent on alcohol could be used to feed families.

bullet-Despite prohibition alcohol was easy to get because of bootleggers such as Rocco Perri and Bessie Starkman. Some Canadians made fortunes smuggling liquor into the United States. bullet- Prohibition had some positive social effects:

1. The crime rate dropped

2. Arrests for drunkenness decreased

3. Workers took paychecks home

4. Industrial efficiency improved

bullet- However it became obvious during the 1920's that prohibition was impossible to enforce, plus governments were losing millions in potential taxes on liquor sales.


II. Postwar Problems:

bullet-When World War I ended many wartime industries closed down laying off many workers; women were pressured to return to household duties so men could have jobs.
bullet- Thousands of veterans returned to unemployment, they were bitter wondering why there were no jobs for them in a country they had fought to defend. They also resented that business people had made millions while they risked their lives.
bullet-People with jobs were not much better off. Inflation had more than doubled the cost of living between 1914-1918 while wages had not. Many joined unions to fight for a better living and working conditions.


III. The Winnipeg General Strike:

bullet-The city of Winnipeg witnessed one of Canadaís most important strikes in 1919.

* In May building and metal workers voted to strike

* 30,000 other workers in key industries and services walked off the job in support.

* Ottawa sent Mounties and soldier to put the strike down

* On June 21, Bloody Saturday, violence erupted when the police charged the demonstrators, shots were fired and one striker was killed

bullet- Aftermath of the strike:

* strike leaders arrested and sentenced to jail terms

* workers ordered to return to their jobs

* some workers lost their jobs

* some workers had to promise not to join the union.

* The strike did not draw attention to the social and economic conditions faced by many people (Royal Commission)

* Many labor leaders were elected to all levels of govt. In 1920's


IV. Economy on the Upswing:

bullet- Though the early 1920's were difficult conditions did improve by the mid 1920's. Foreign investors gained confidence in Canada and as a result new industries were developed.


- Wheat on the Prairies: Countries in Europe still suffering from the effects of war were demanding food as a result the price went up. Canada farmers enjoyed huge crops and as a result made big profits. This money was reinvested into Trucks, Mechanical harvester, and new stains of wheat. As a result production increased, grain elevators were full and prices remained high.

-Pulp and Paper: The U.S. had used up much of its sources of pulpwood as a result Canadian pulp exports equaled the total exports of the rest of the world providing many jobs. The boom had a down side as forests were destroyed, the Canadian economy became dependent on raw materials and Canadians follow these jobs to the U.S.

- Hydro Electric Power: New industries and people in their homes made increased demands on hydro power and Canada with itís vast river systems soon became the second largest producer of hydro power in the world

- Oil and Gas: Factories and the increased use of the car put a huge demand on oil and gas. The discovery of oil in Alberta in 1924 became a great money maker.

* The increased use of hydro and oil and gas hurt the Maritimes which was a producer of coal, the energy source that was being replaced by hydro and oil and gas.

bullet-Mining: New mining discoveries near the Canadian Shield were being developed with American financing and these discoveries created new jobs and wealth for many Canadians.





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This site was last updated 12/17/01