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The Great Depression
Canadian
CHC2D
Teacher: Mr. Froese
By: Lylie Diver
Due: Friday January 13th
During the Great Depression, many people suffered. Most people were left
hungry, and hopeless. Before the depression started the economy was great. People
were buying new cars, new houses, most people had jobs, the wages were good, and
people were using credit.
Then the dirty 30’s hit hard, which caused lots of distress for many Canadians.
Events like the stock market crash, R.B. Benn starvation and farming crisis’. People lost
their jobs, families lost their houses, many children had to stop going to school and start
working for money to help their family while dangerous men were wandering the streets.
Today almost everyone has jobs, credit is carefully used, minimum wage, there is
still poor and homeless people today, but not as many during the time of the
Depression. People have more privileged items like cell phones and cars to drive
around in. The Depression has brought Canadian citizens closer together as one big
family and more of an equal society. The Great Depression was a direct result of the
way the people were living, and because of all the starvation and loss in jobs the
government tried to help the people. This caused people to become more financially
involved and more aware of what could happen.
There are six main reasons for the Great Depression. Over population in Canada
and over expansion was a big one. The large supplies of goods, and newsprints were
produced, but not a lot of people were buying them. Forcing lots of factories to slow
down their production therefore laying off employees.
Therefore, farmers were not able to purchase machinery to help with the work, affecting
the industries that could not afford manufactured goods.
Canada depended on the United States as a trading partner. 65% of our imports came
from the U.S. and 40% of our exports went to the U.S. When the American economy
hurt so did Canada.
There was a lot of credit buying, the advertisers said “buy now, pay later. Many people
liked the idea of only paying a little bit at a time for the newest technology, but if you did
not keep up on the payments the product would be repossessed.
Many people would use credit and buy stock, many people would gamble to get rich
faster, but gambling was dangerous. For example, to buy $1000 worth of stocks you
would only need $100. But If the stocks did not increase and dropped, the stock market
would crash like it did. Many people faced financial ruin.
For many Canadians in the 1930’s there was lots of distress, many Canadians
lost their jobs, and could not afford to feed their families. People had to get a ticket to
go to a soup kitchen that was trying to help the hungry and homeless getting two meals
a day, tea/coffee, with two slices of bread, plus the ticket had to be renewed every two
weeks.
1
From people losing their jobs and homes, “thousands existed on “pogey” relief
payments that brought shame to those who had no alternative.
2
Many Wondering men
are threats and will do anything because they have nothing to lose.
3
1
Merrill, Paul. Canadian Scrapbook-the Great Depression years Canada in the 1930s. Prentice-Hall
Scarborough, 1978. Pg. 32
2
Bain. Making History-The story of Canada in the Twentieth Century. Toronto Ontario: M, Colin, 2000.
Pg. 125
3
Merrill, Paul. Canadian scrapbook-the Great Depression years Canada in the 1930s. Prentice-Hall
Scarborough, 1978. Pg. 24
The homeless people had their own symbols they would use, if a man was to go
to a house and ask for food, and if the people gave him something to eat or a blanket
they would put an “X” in front of their house telling the others that they already gave.
The stock market crash was just the beginning of the depression, the prairies had
it the worst. In 1937 the prairies suffered the greatest crop failure in history. Hit
Saskatchewan hard, 290 of 302 people were forced to seek government assistance.
The grasshopper plague got worse one pod laid 30 eggs over square foot, more than a
million grasshoppers” and at one point a road between Regina and Saskatoon was
plugged with thousands of dead insects.
4
Many people got very sick, and died on the
prairies lots of people were scared, kids running, no one knows what to do, murders,
suicides.
5
(Living histories “The Great Depression” 1999 Director Paul hunt)
Many people were in fear of their banks closing, if the peoples banks closed the
people would lose everything. Banks closed, industries collapsed and people were out
of work as factories shut down. No longer did Americans need to buy our lumber, paper,
wheat, and minerals. It was inevitable that Canada’s economy would suffer too.
6
(Great
Depression, November 16th- #3 Canada’s Dependence on the United States.)
Some people were less equal, “if you weren’t a native of Canada and spent less
than five years in this country you were liable to deportation the English, Scotch, Irish,
4
Barton, Pierre. The Great Depression 1929-1939. Canada, 1990. Pg. 421
5
6
and European became destitute on account of lack of work.
7
This was unfair to the
immigrants because they had friends and have family in Canada.
During this horrible time in the depression, R.B. Bennett was having a difficult
time when he took office as Prime Minister. R.B. Bennett, Argued to the Parliament, “If I
thought for a single moment that to add, beyond $71 million of the present outstanding
paper money of this country another 25 or 30 or 40 millions of dollars would cure
unemployment, would lift the Depression and would end all of our troubles, I would have
no more hesitancy in asking the House for it than I have in asking the House to pass
any estimate that is submitted to it.”
8
It was a very difficult time for Bennett because he was the one in charge. If
something was wrong it was Bennett’s fault. The Great Depression was put on
Bennett, but Bennett just wanted to help people. Prime Minister R. B. Bennett
took money out of his own pocket to help some people that wrote a letter to him.
“Dear Mr. Bennett: I just thought I would write to you Because I though [thought]
you would write [to] Santa for me and tell him I was a good girl all the time. And
Mamma tells me her and Daddy has no money to give Santa for my little brother
and that we can’t hang our stockings up. Would you please send some money
and I will send it to him [Santa] or do you Mr. Bennett he would forget Brucy and
me my I hope he dont [don’t] I wish you write and tell him im [I’m] here I will be so
7
Merrill, Paul. Canadian Scrapbook-the Great Depression years Canada in the 1930s. Prentice-Hall
Scarborough, 1978. Pg.
8
OBrien Patrick, Anthony and McDonald A. Judith. Retreat from Protectionism: R.B. Bennett and the
Movement to Freer Trade in Canada, Vol. 21, No, 4, 2009. Pg. 341
good. But if Daddy has no money to give him he can’t come. Will you write and
tell me if you wrote to Santy [Santa].”
9
Mr. Bennett gave his family $5 to help that little kid and his brother get a gift for
Christmas, but Bennett told his lawyers and the people he wrote back not to tell anyone
that he was giving people money out of his pocket because Bennett did not want to
succeed politically on other people’s suffering.
The Depression in Canada was a time of great suffering and of real change,
10
because of the unions created by the people during the Depression, people now have
unions that represent them for their jobs making sure they have proper safety and
minimum wages. People now have higher expectations that the government will help
them and make new laws about taxes. One example is the CDIC (Canada Deposit
Insurance Corporation) which was created to bring trust back to the people for them to
begin putting their money in banks again, CDIC insures Canadians’ deposits held at
Canadian banks (and other institutions) up to $100,000 in case of a bank failure.
11
The Great Depression had a major impact on the Canadian society, and created
some of the hardest financial times Canadians have seen. However, the Canadian
government now has more of an understanding on what can happen to the Canadian
society, and now knows how to prevent something like the Great Depression happening
9
Letters to Prime Minister Bennett, Number 8. Nov 21.
10
The great Depression of the 1930s, Canada: Michel Horn Athabaskan University, 2010. Pg. 20
11
German, Joe. Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Wikipedia. December 20
th
2016. January 4
th
2017. <https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_Deposit_Insurance_Corporation>
again. The Canadian people are also aware of these causes and as a result are now
more involved in their day-to-day financial lives.