The 1930s: A Decade Of Despair

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Chapter 4 - The 1930s: A Decade of Despair

Depression: a long period of severe economic and social hardship, massive unemployment, and suffering.


1) Basic Economic Principles/Stock Market Crash: -People were buying shares in companies that did not exist = speculation -Gambling; not investing -Buying on margin; borrowing from banks to INVEST in companies -Lost confidence to sell

2) Overproduction: -Companies continued to produce even though they weren't selling the products -Sold products BELOW the cost -Companies went BANKRUPT -Led to layoffs in factories = people couldn't afford to buy = so sales slowed even more

3) High Tariffs: -Stopped international trades -Protected Canadian jobs -Americans then started putting tariffs on their goods -No one would trade with one another

4) Too Much Credit -Too much debt -Credit is borrowed money to buy things -If you cant pay back the bank is in trouble -Only thing you should borrow money for is a house -People couldn’t pay the banks back

5) Debt Left Over From WWI: -Many countries relied on trade with the U.S. -As protectionism grew, international trade decreased

6) Dependance on Exports: -High Tariffs put on = protect the whole market -Protectionism = not a good thing -No competition = no new products = low variety of goods


Drought on the Prairies: -Farmers replaced native grasses with wheat crops, which used up nutrients in the soil -After economic crash in 1929, the Prairies were hit by a disastrous drought = 8 years -Dust sifted everywhere -Insects wiped out any crops that farmers managed to grow during the drought

Unemployment: -300,000 out of 11million could pay income tax -Loss of jobs = loss of respect

Collecting Pogey: -Government relief payments given to those who didn’t have a source of income -Prices were purposely kept low ($60/mo Calgary - $19/mo Halifax for a family of 5) -Had to wait in line for hours and publicly declare their financial failure -Vouchers were never enough to cover expenses -Getting them = humiliating experience

Riding the Rails: -By winter 1933, more than 1/3 Canada’s workforce = unemployed -Men rode on the roof or clung to the rods under trains


New Canadians: -Immigrants were viewed with hostility when they competed for scarce jobs -More than 28,000 immigrants were deported from Canada -Chinese population suffered greatly -Many Chinese people did not qualify for relief payments -Jewish people were targeted and they faced anti-Semitism -Employers put signs up forbidding Jewish people to apply -Don’t know about laws & rights = taken advantage of

Aboriginal Peoples: -Families on relief were given only $5/month ($19-$60 for Non-Aboriginals) -Conditions on their reserves = poor -Lions Gate Bridge = Built on land without permission -Cut-Off Lands

FACES OF DESPAIR: WOMEN IN THE 1930s (p.98) -Women = seen as maintenance of the home & family -Expected to get married & leave the labour force ASAP -Earned 60% of men’s wages -During depression, women who had jobs = forced into unwanted retirement -Married women = fired from their jobs -Couples managed to have fewer children as the Depression deepened -Many single & married women in desperation wrote to P.M. Bennett -Bennett responded by sending them $2-$4 of his own money

The Plight of Women -Few jobs -Had to rely on charities because unemployed women didn’t qualify for gov’t relief

The Fortunate Minority: -Wealthy Canadians with secure jobs noticed little change -Money was worth more & living conditions for those with secure jobs improved


P.M. Mackenzie King -Unprepared to deal with a crisis on the scale of the Depression -He believed the situation was only temporary -Told them this was the responsibility of municipal & provincial governments -Said he would not give “a