CHC2D Grade 10 Academic History – The Dirty 30s

Thanks, Tony.

Chapter 3: The Dirty Thirties

Before the Depression

  • during the 1920s, prosperity existed
  • many people invested their money in the stock market, as a way to get rich quick (bought low, sold high)
  • many bought stocks on credit (when they sold their stocks at a high price, they paid back their broker from profits)


Stock Market Crash

  • on Black Tuesday (October 29, 1929), the stock market crashed in the USA
  • as the values of stocks plummeted, investors scrambled to sell their stocks (as more people sold stocks, the prices of the stocks decreased further)
  • the Great Depression and the decade of the “Dirty Thirties” laid ahead after the crash
  • the effects of the USA stock market crash spread to other countries


Causes of the Depression

  • Black Tuesday determined the timing of the Great Depression; however several factors influenced the length and intensity of the Depression
  • In 2008 recession, government couldn’t control the shrinking demand but they did control the tariffs, bank regulations, and easy credit to reduce the impact of the recession


  • Easy Credit
    • during 1920s, businesses borrowed money to expand operations
      • as long as prices held, they were able to repay their debts
    • many people used their money borrowed on credit to buy items
    • when items were repossessed, they were sold for less than the initial value
    • when prices dropped, lenders demanded repayment of loans, causing many companies to go broke, causing many workers to be fired
      • as workers were fired, they could not pay their debts, causing creditors to repossess cars, appliances, farms and homes
  • A Lack of Financial Regulation
    • in the USA, there was little government regulation of financial services
    • in the 1920s, banks made investments using depositors’ money—government didn’t stop the bank from risky behaviours
    • when the stock market crashed, people tried to retrieve their savings
      • the cash reserves of banks eventually became empty, and many banks went bankrupt
  • in Canada, there were more financial regulations, which resulted in fewer bank failures and fewer Canadians losing all their savings
  • led to creation of Bank of Canada in 1934
  • Shrinking Demand
    • Canadian economy relied on exports (wheat, pulp and paper, fish, minerals)
    • in the prosperous 1920s, global demand allowed for increased Canadian exports
    • as the demand for Canadian supplies decreased, prices plummeted, which had a devastating impact on the economies of countries like Canada that relied on trade
    • as well, when people became poor, they bought less, causing other workers to be fired and become poor
  • Economic Ties
    • the USA was Canada’s most important trading partner
    • when Depression occurred in USA, the effects were brought over to Canada
    • the Americans had fewer orders for Canadian resources and products
    • as demand declined, USA parent companies shut down their Canadian operations, causing many to be unemployed
    • because of its connection with the USA, Canada was likely the second hardest hit country of the Depression (after the USA)
    • Canada’s economy isn’t as diverse as the USA—therefore, Canada has less sectors to turn to during the depression
  • Protective Tariffs
    • many countries imposed protective tariffs on imported goods to protect their industries from foreign competition
    • this mean Canadians had less countries to export to
    • domestic businesses increased prices, as there was less (foreign) competition


Getting By

  • Canadians had no money so they bartered for goods and services
  • many couldn’t pay rent/mortgage and became homeless
  • there was no unemployment insurance, family allowances, or universal health care to help people through the times
  • if needed help, Canadians turned to their families, churches, or charities


Regional Effects

  • not all parts of Canada suffered equally during the Great Depression
  • the West was one of the hardest hit regions
    • in 1920s the prairies had been one of the most prosperous farming regions; in 1920s the economic crisis joined with the forces of nature to create desperate times for farmers
      • grasshoppers ate the crops causing soil to become thin leading to the dust bowl
  • industrial heartlands of Ontario and Quebec weren’t hit as hard as other parts of the country, because of tariffs designed to protect domestic industries
    • the declining fortunes of prairie farmers had a ripple effect on the manufacturing sector—companies producing farm equipment had to cut back production, leading to some lay offs
  • as unemployment rose throughout the country, fewer people could buy goods like cars and appliances, causing production in these sectors to fall as well, causing workers in those sectors to lose their jobs also
  • in Atlantic Canada, there was little difference between the prosperity of the 1920s and the Depression of the ‘30s
    • they didn’t experience much prosperity in the 1920s nor did they face nature’s problems like drought as the prairie farmers did
  • workers in the fishing, timber, and coal industries experienced the fill effects of the depression as global demand for Canadian exports decreased  (especially Natives who earned their living from fur trapping and fishing)
  • Newfoundland at the time wasn’t part of Canada (own dominion of commonwealth) was hit hard by the decline in fish exports as well the interest and relief payments bankrupted the government, and forced Britain to take control of the colony
  • rich people benefited from the depression—they bought land at low prices and sold at higher prices when the depression ended
    • many companies remained profitable by cutting wages, laying off some workers, and reducing production


Responding to the Depression

  • P.M. King failed to recognize the magnitude of the economic crisis when the Depression began
    • Government cut funds and stopped spending—took money out of economy and made Depression worse
    • Government thought depression would work itself out—no need to intervene; however, governments had the power to solve the depression because they had money
  • most politicians believed the government had no role in the economy
  • however, Canadians expected King and government to end crisis
  • when King called an election in 1920, Conservative leader Bennett won (he promised jobs and high tariffs to protect Canadian industries; King offered no plans to end the crisis)
  • during King’s campaign trail he proclaimed he wouldn’t give a “five cent piece) to any Conservative provincial government
    • many Canadians expressed their discontent and pelted wooden nickels on King’s campaign trail
  • Bennett received a majority win after the 1930 election


R.B. Bennett’s Response

  • once in office, Bennett applied traditional economic policies to restore prosperity (raised tariffs on goods entering country; copied USA)
    • the tariffs offered some protection to the manufacturing sector in central Canada but crippled Canadian exports


Seeking Relief

  • as depression continued, Canadians looked for ways to support themselves
    • became door-to-door salesman; some offered to work in exchange for room and board; borrow money from family relatives and friends; relied on churches and charities; panhandled
  • by 1933, more than 1.4M Canadians relied on relief (financial assistance to support unemployed—welfare)
    • to qualify for relief people had to live in their town/community for a specific period of time (0.5-1 year)—this meant thousands of unemployed men who travelled the country didn’t qualify
    • turn in driver’s license, remove telephone from home, turn in liquor permit, be a man supporting family
    • most tried to avoid relief until there was no other alternative (relief hurts one’s pride); each province gave different amounts of relief payments (some more, some less)
  • young people, unskilled workers, small business owners, farmers, and working women faced the greatest economic hardships
    • ex: women weren’t allowed to take a job from a man—men began doing women work like teaching and secretary; instead, women were left to do domestic work in the homes of wealthy people


Relief Camps

  • many men left their families and homes in search of work in other parts of the country
  • many men “rode the rails” (on top of boxcars) and travelled west
  • after realizing there to be no jobs in the prairies, they went further west to Vancouver; these men overwhelmed relief organizations, churches and charities
    • Vancouver asked the federal government to get the men off the streets; in response, the government created relief camps
  • most relief camps were located in remote parts of the country (in Western Canada)—far away as possible from the cities for them to cause trouble
  • over 200 000 single men 18 years + went to live in the camps
  • the camps were very strict—men worked hard, long hours, doing difficult tasks (cutting trees moving rocks, building railways) for only $0.20/day, lack of medical care, denied the right to vote, stealing occurred
  • living conditions were horrible—greasy foods, rotten foods, slept in crowded rooms (similar to a prison if not worse)
  • municipalities made it illegal for homeless men to hang on the streets (vagrancy)


On-to-Ottawa Trek

  • the bleak life in camps left many men angry and frustrated
  • in spring of 1935, thousands of camp workers in B.C. formed the Relief Camp Worker’s Union (RCWU); the leader was Arthur Evans (a communist labour organizer)
  • the men went on strike, demanding better pay, food, clothing and shelter at the camps
  • in April and May 1935, the strikers demonstrated in Vancouver
  • in June 1935, they launched the on-to-Ottawa trek—over 1600men boarded freight trains bound for Ottawa to confront Bennett


The Regina Riot

  • Bennett was determined to stop the On-to-Ottawa trek protestors
  • on June14, he ordered the trains to be stopped at Regina, and invited the leaders to Ottawa hoping that in their absence, the protestors would disperse
  • in Ottawa, talks ended after only an hour—the frustrated leaders returned to Regina
  • the protestors gathered in Market Square in Regina on July 1, 1935 to plan new strategy
  • Bennett ordered local police to arrest the protestors—many were injured and 1 un-uniformed officer dead
    • reluctantly, many men returned back to their camps


Bennett’s “New Deal”

  • Bennett set aside millions of dollars in relief funds and increased tariffs on imported goods; however this did little to solve the crisis
  • by 1933, the depression was at its worst—no politician could’ve solved the problem, but everyone blamed Bennett
  • in the USA, president Roosevelt launched the “New Deal”—a series of radical social reforms aimed at providing relief and economic recovery
    • in 1935, Bennett followed, and launched his own “New Deal”—promised unemployment insurance, and a minimum wage (put money into economy (Roosevelt spent it on infrastructure like the Golden Gate Bridge); Bennett didn’t put in enough money, and his plan failed
      • for Bennett, it was too late—Canadians chose King who’s campaign platform was “King or Chaos”; King won the 1935 election with 173 seats (Conservative had 40)


King Returns

  • when Kind returned to office, economy was dismal; he didn’t tackle unemployment but did invest money in public works projects and relief programs
  • despite his return, there was 3 more years of ineffective government action before WWII sparked the economic boost in Canada, thus ending the Great Depression


The Emergence of Political Alternatives

  • neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives knew how to end the depression
  • as a result, many Canadians lost confidence in traditional political parties and turned to new regional parties that demanded social and economic reforms
  • the parties included: the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, the Social Credit Party, and the Union Nationale


The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation

  • in 1932, a small group of reform-minded MPs formed the CCF; as well, working class people (farmers, teachers)
  • it is known as the New Democratic Party (NDP) today
  • the CCF started in Western Canada, led by Winnipeg MP J.S. Woodsworth
  • the CCF rejected both capitalism and revolutionary communism—instead they wanted democratic socialism (government control over major key industries) and government involvement in the economy), therefore making society more fair as government owns most parts of the economy
  • in the Regina Manifesto of 1933, the CCF blamed the depression on the capitalist system, and introduced a number of socialist parties, including:
    • public ownerships of banks (Bank of Canada) , public utilities, transportation companies and other major industries
    • improved health and social services
    • a tax system designed to redistribute wealth (through social services)
  • opponents of the CCF stated that the CCF was simply communism in disguise (very bad, as the “Red Scare” occurred during those times)
  • the CCF gained support in Western provinces; in 1939, it became the official opposition in BC, Sask., Manitoba
    • it eventually expanded its influence in the West and in Ottawa as well; never won at federal level because Liberals and Conservatives stole their ideas


The Social Credit Party

  • had roots in Western Canada
  • based on economic theory that proposed government pay a social dividend (a payment to all citizens based on the economic health and wealth of the country)
    • consumers would spend the money to buy more goods, thus increasing demand and production, creating more jobs
    • however, most consumers ended up saving the money
    • given in cheque—merchants were reluctant to accept because government of Alberta was poor, and reimbursement uncertain
  • during depression, the idea of social dividend made sense to many people, especially Albertan William Aberhart (Bible Bill)
  • Aberhart hosted a popular radio show, and preached the idea of social credit—he called upon the Alberta government to give every adult $25/month
  • when he failed to convince the government, Aberhart formed the Social Credit Party
  • the SCP won the 1935 election, winning 56 of 63 seats
  • once in power, Aberhart had to face political reality: government simply didn’t have the money to pay $25/month to each citizen
    • Aberhart wanted to print more money, but courts ruled that monetary policy was federal responsibility
  • although Aberhart failed to deliver on his promises, the SCP remained in power in Alberta for 35 years


The Union Nationale

  • in 1930s, Quebec nationalism found its place on the political stage
  • the Liberals had been in power in Quebec since 1897—it had close ties to the English business community; the government resisted pressure for economic reforms
    • by mid-1930s, many voters wanted to change that
  • Maurice Duplessis joined forces with a group of rebellious Liberals to form the Union Nationale
  • in the election campaign of 1936, Duplessis focused on corruption in Liberal government; promised to defend French language, religion and culture against English business interests
  • Duplessis and Union Nationale won the campaign of 1936
  • once in power, Duplessis failed to deliver many of his election promises—he left the economy in the hands of English business interests
  • Duplessis passed laws banning any labour protests
  • in 1937, the Duplessis government passed the Padlock Law
    • fearing communism, the Duplessis government passed the law which gave authorities the right to enter public/private buildings in search for communism propaganda
      • it gave the authorities the right to define communism on their own terms
    • if propaganda was found, the building would be padlocked until the owner appeared in court for trial
    • this law silenced political opposition in Quebec and kept labour unions weak for 20 years
  • however, Duplessis held on to popular support for defending the traditions and values of French language, religion, and culture
    • defended the province’s autonomy by opposing various grants and initiatives form the federal government
    • in 1948, the fleur-de-lys flag was created for Quebec
    • in 1954, he introduced a provincial income tax system
  • many thought of Duplessis period of power to be a dark period in Quebec’s social and intellectual history; however his government was elected 5 times between 1936 and 1959


The Dirty Thirties

  • Bennett Buggy was a horse drawn car—didn’t use fuel (made it less expensive to operate than a car)
  • Relief payments were never in cash (were in the form of food stamps)—government didn’t want people buying luxury items
  • Entertainment during Depression to take away misery: movies (Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind—themes of hope), gambling (hope for more money), boxing, radio, hockey etc.
  • Many survived through soup kitchens, eating gophers, and having odd jobs (graves worker)
    • Soup kitchens offered 2 meals a day—long lines in the cold and many stood in line to find out there’s not enough food for them; food was lousy as well


Rising Tide of Fascism and Nazism

  • North America wasn’t alone in the Great Depression—by 1933 almost 30% of world was unemployed
  • the turmoil of the post war world sparked the rise of fascism (interests of society are more important than individual rights)
    • Benito Mussolini was Italy and Europe’s first fascist dictatorship
    • the Depression fuelled for other fascist movements in Germany and Spain


Civil War in Spain

  • in 1931, Canada gained control of its independence when the Statute of Westminster was passed
    • King used this independence to remain neutral in foreign conflicts (ex.: when Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931, King refused to support sanctions by the League of Nations; when Italy invades Ethiopia in 1935, King chose not to support actions against the Italian aggression)
  • in 1936, Francisco Franco led a military coup in Spain to overthrow the elected government, causing civil war to break out between fascism and communism
    • Franco was supported by fascism leaders Mussolini and Hitler
    • the communists had the support of the Soviet Union
  • King refused to take sides in the civil war of Spain—Quebec wanted to support Franco (because of the Catholic values and traditions of Franco) , the Communist Party of Canada supported the left-wing (communist) government, and in English Canada people feared communism might appeal to the frustrated unemployed workers
    • King banned Canadians from fighting in Spain—however 1500 Canadians still fought in the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion half of battalion died
  • Francisco Franco’s army eventually gained power


Hitler Gains Power

  • in 1936, Germany suffered deeply from the Depression, with over 6M unemployed
  • in early 1930s, Germany had grown tired of traditional politics and politicians, and the leader of the fascist Nazi party, Hitler, promised to restore full employment
    • many Germans believed in him
  • in 1933, Hitler succeeded in manipulating his way into power
  • upon gaining power, Hitler:
    • imposed censorship to silence political opposition
    • banned strikes and unions
    • created youth groups to teach young Germans the beliefs of the Nazi Party (including superiority of Aryan race)
  • in 1938, Jews were isolated from society (moved to Jew specific areas); after WWII started, Jews sent to concentration camps (communists, opposing leaders, union leaders were first thrown into camps; banned books to destroy opposing ideas)
  • Nazi`s believed Aryans were superior to Jews
    • Jews became scapegoat for Germany`s economic problems
    • Hitler persecuted the Jews:
      • Jews lost German citizenship
      • couldn`t work in certain professions or marry non-0Jews
      • forced to carry ID cards (had to wear yellow starts on armband for ID)
      • observe a curfew forbidding them from going out after dark
      • Nazis seized Jewish homes, businesses, and valuables


Voyage of the SS St. Louis

  • many Jews tried to escape Europe
  • in June 1939, almost 1000 refugees chartered the German ocean liner the SS St. Louis and sailed across the Atlantic—the USA, Argentina, Paraguay and Panama, and Cuba refused their requests for a safe haven
  • the SS St. Louis then headed north to Canada, but King refused to accept refugees
  • the SS St. Louis was forced to return to Europe, where almost half of its passengers eventually died in Nazi concentration camps
  • SS St. Louis first went to other European nations, before heading to S. America, then USA, then Canada


Prohibiting Jewish Immigration

  • in the 1930s, Canada denied Jew refugees
  • between 1933 and 1945, Canada accepted just 4000 Jewish refugees (200 000 USA, 85 000 UK)
  • Canada denied refugees for many reasons—immigrants took jobs during the Depression; in 1931, all immigration was banned
  • anti-Semitism (an attitude of hatred towards Jews) was another factor in denying Jews entry into Canada
    • faced discrimination because lived lifestyles different from French and Eng. Canadians
    • P.M. King didn’t want to challenge the public opinions; King’s policies reflected social attitudes of those times


Cairine Wilson (Canada’s First Female Senator)

  • Wilson frequently took stands against King and his policies, including his approval of the Munich Agreement
  • was in favour of Jew immigration—took up cause of SS St. Louis, urging King to accept them
  • after the war, Wilson campaigned to raise public sympathy and support for refugees and displaced persons; became head of the Senate Committee on Immigration and Labour, prompting a more open immigration and refugee policy
  • became Canada’s first female delegate to the UN


War on the Horizon

  • when Hitler came to power, he was determined to overturn the Treaty of Versailles
  • in 1935, Hitler rearmed Germany and rebuilt the military
  • in 1936, Hitler reoccupied the Rhineland (the demilitarized zone in Western Germany)
  • in 1938, the Nazi army occupied Austria as part of Hitler’s plan to integrate all German speaking nations
  • UK and France did little to stop Germany’s aggression—they adopted a policy of appeasement (gave territory in order to prevent war) meeting Hitler’s demands


The Munich Agreement

  • in 1938, Hitler demanded that Germany control the Sudetenland (the German speaking area of Czechoslovakia)
  • with Europe on the verge of war, the leaders of Germany, Italy, France, and Britain met in Munich to work out a compromise
  • without consulting the Czech government, Britain and France appeased Hitler once again
  • in September 1938, the Munich Agreement was signed—it allowed Germany to take control of the Sudetenland; in return Hitler promised to end his campaign to acquire more German-speaking territory


Handouts: Germany

  • Communist and fascist parties at height during bad times, as people are desperate
  • from 1932 to 1933, Hitler gains almost half of the seats because Communists blamed for parliament burning
  • Nazi secret police  loose lips arrested
  • only Nazis taught in schools (brainwash); took over media
  • Weimar Republic was Germany after the Keizer and son disappeared.
  • Germany believed they didn’t lose WWI, but merely stabbed in the back by German politicians
  • French had Maginot line for protection against Germans; however, Germans can go through Belgium or Luxembourg (like they did in WWI)
  • many new countries created out of Germany after WWI—Hungary, Poland etc.
  • the weak league of nations lacked military power, so sanctions used instead
    • the UK, head of League of Nations were going through financial trouble


Handouts: Road to War

  • Japan invades Manchuria in 1931
  • Germany rearms in 1933, violating Versailles treaty
  • Italy invades Ethiopia in 1935, because Ethiopia was the only African country not ruled by Europeans—Ethiopia had nothing though; pointless war
  • Germany occupies Rhineland of France for military purposes in 1936, despite Versailles saying Germany must be disarmed along French border.
  • US Neutrality acts (1934, 1935, 1937, 1939) which declared its neutrality despite having great power and the ability to stop global conflicts
  • Rome-Berlin Axis created in 1938; Japan joined in 1940
  • Spanish Civil War: Republicans vs. Fascists; introduced warfare which targeted civilians
  • Austrian Anschluss of 1938—Austrian Nazi Party overthrows the government; the Austrian Nazi government asks Hitler to take over country
  • Sudetenland (1938); in 1939, Hitler breaks Munich agreement
  • UK rearms in 1939 after invasion of Poland upon the Munich agreement broken; however, Germany has been rearming since 1933
  • Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 1939; removes a double front war fare and they decide to spilt Poland (Germany launches blitzkrieg against Poland)


Handouts: Why Canadians Weren’t Ready for War

  • memories of WWI, Pacifism (peace)
  • the Depression (BIIGEST—couldn’t supply war necessities)
  • isolationism (chose to remain neutral)
  • afraid of dividing Canadians among language lines
  • King supported appeasement
  • 10 000 soldiers in the forces