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Canada and the Great Depression


Funds were raised by going into debt, either by borrowing money for the bank, ... They traveled to Vancouver and took over the city library and the Hudson's Bay store ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Canada and the Great Depression

Canada and the Great Depression
Causes of the Great Depression
  • Easy Credit
  • People needed money to rebuild after the war
  • Funds were raised by going into debt, either by
    borrowing money for the bank, selling bonds or
    offer shares on the stock market
  • Investors were optimistic about economic growth
    that many people rushed to purchase bonds or
    offer shares on the stock market

  • Many companies and consumers borrowed money to
    pay for large machinery (tractors - since farms
    were turing mechanical) and cars
  • Advertisements encouraged the by now and pay
    later philosophy
  • When the stock market crashed the companies
    demanded their loans in full
  • When they did not get their money they had the
    right to reposes their merchandise

  • By the end of the depression many families were
    left with nothing - at times not even their home
  • Some people made lot of money during he 1920s
    but a majority were still poor and in debt
    especially farmers who had bought machinery to
    produce more produce hoping that their products
    would continue to increase in the markets

Causes of the Great Depression
  • Over Production and Over Expansion
  • Many companies expanded their factories and began
    to produce high amounts of resources such as
    food newsprint, minerals, manufactured goods and
    then they stock piled leaving a surplus
  • Canadians still only made a certain amount of
    money in the form of wages thus only allowing the
    consumer to purchase so many goods, therefore, a
    surplus of shoes, cars, radios, etc. were left
    sitting in warehouses unsold

  • The build up of surplus product made owners
    nervous so they reduced production which led to
    wages being cut and lay offs

Causes of the Great depression
  • Tariffs
  • Europe was devastated from the War and needed a
    surplus of manufactured goods from Canada and the
    United Sates but those countries were in debt
  • They could not purchase large quantities witch
    resulted in a slowdown in international trade

  • What were tariffs? - Other countries placed high
    tariffs on imports which started a chain
    reaction. Those countries wanted to protect
    themselves from cheaper imports and wanted their
    citizens to only purchase domestically
    manufactured goods
  • This resulted in the slow down in international
    trade and it came to a point were it just stopped

Causes of the great depression
  • Easy Access to the Stock Market
  • Many people saw the stock market as a way to get
    rich quick
  • It was not necessary to have money to buy stocks
  • People could buy stocks on credit just as they
    would do when buying material goods - they would
    only need to put down a small down payment

  • Stock brokers would loan the rest of the money as
    a high interest rate (buying on Margin)
  • Speculations of the stock market drove up the
    prices and there came a point where they value of
    the stock didnt represent the value of the
  • What would happen if the stocks began to drop?
    How would people pay their loans back?
  • This happened with the stock market crash, people
    became nervous and sold their stocks quickly,
    which lowered prices the more people sold

causes of the great depression
  • Stock Market Crash of 1929
  • Throughout 1929 the markets started to fluctuate
  • Every time the market took a down turn it would
    make a strong come back
  • Until October 24th - there was a drastic drop in
  • Many thought the situation was only temporary
  • It made people nervous so they began to sell
    their stocks which dropped the value dramatically
  • By

  • By Tuesday October 29, 1929 - Black Tuesday the
    value of stocks were worthless and the stock
    market in Toronto, Montreal and New York
  • For every minute trade occurred 1 million was
  • There were minor rallies in the months after but
    the major setback of Black Tuesday was too great
  • Many investors who lost a great deal of money
    either could not or would not risk any more money

  • Those who did survive the crash and wanted to buy
    stocks a the reduced rate but the government and
    banks installed new tighter money lending
  • Industrial output began to fall since no one was
    purchasing produces
  • This led to massive unemployment no purchasing
    power downward spiral

William lyon mackenzie king
  • King was PM when the depression began
  • He barely acknowledged the crisis
  • He felt that if he waited it out things would get
  • The leader of the Conservative opposition asked
    the PM for aid that would be used to help
    struggling provinces - esp. Western Canada

  • King said that he would not give a five cent
    piece to any Conservative led province
  • He did not want to give assistance to provinces
    that were opposed to his policies
  • He believed that any solution to the crisis would
    come from a business-led recovery
  • During a speech King said that by drawing
    attention to unemployment it would draw attention
    to the downward spiral of the economy and
    discourage foreign investors from investing in
    the Canadian economy

  • Solution - King said What is needed today if we
    are to solve any unemployment problem is to get
    more capital into the country to increase the
    investment of capital and we will get it as
    people come to have confidence in conditions
  • Even if King had wanted to help the provinces he
    would have had difficulty providing the funds
    because his government was constrained by debts
    incurred by loans to railway interests
  • He felt that help had to come from the provinces
    and municipalities

The response of Canadians to Kings lack of
assistance was decisive. In the federal election
campaign of 1930, King tried to distance himself
from the five cent piece remark - but it was no
use. King lost to Richard Bedford Bennett who
promised to blast his way into the worlds
markets and create trade for Canadian industries.
William Lyon Mackenzie King
Robert bedford bennett
  • Bennetts optimism was short lived and the
    Depression deepened
  • The Depression was worst for unemployed, elderly
    , sick and handicapped
  • Welfare, Unemployment and Medicare did not exist
  • Bennett wouldnt provide for those who were not
    contributing to society

  • Bennett was one of the wealthiest men in Canada
  • as the despair increased throughout the country
    Bennett was forced to put aside his views on
    self-reliance and accountability
  • 1930 he introduced the Unemployment Relief Act -
    which allotted 20 million to be used for relief
    in 1930 and 1931
  • Municipalities were mostly responsible for
    distributing relief

  • Bennett didnt want relief to become a federal
  • Most relief came in the form of public works
    projects - cutting grass and digging ditches
  • to be eligible for relief that person had to have
    no assets - no radio, telephone, car, etc
  • Registering for relief was humiliating and
    difficult, often people had to line up in public
    where everyone could see

  • Relief inspectors came to check and if they found
    liquor, surplus of food or money the relief would
  • Citizens were encouraged to turn in those who
    were cheating the system
  • Some cities required a one-three year proof of
    residence to avoid having transients who
    travelled from city to city looking for work
    taking jobs away from residents

  • Those who did qualify for relief recieved food
    vouchers, used clothing, fuel etc.
  • However, the supplies were usually not enough to
    sustain everyone
  • By 1932 it was apparent that the relief program
    wasnt working
  • More than 1.5 million people were on relief
  • But an alarm went out when people heard of the
    number of young single unemployment men roaming
    the country in search of work

relief camps
  • Job priority was given to family men
  • Young single men relied on soup kitchens and
    charity to get them through
  • Unrest began to grow
  • Bennett saw what was going on and decided to
    search for a solution

  • Major General McNaughton (Chief of General Staff
    for the Department of National Defense) suggested
    labour camps
  • Camps would be supervised by the National Defence
    and provide food, clothing and a wage of 20
  • Men would work on federal projects - land
    clearing and building landing strips, airports,
    roads, military bases and radio communication

  • Work camps were set up in isolated areas way from
    urban centre's in existing military camps

  • Goals - to relieve the cities of these unemployed
    men, and build morale among the men through work
    and generate good work habits
  • Bennett promised the tax payers that the costs
    for care of men would be kept at 1.00/person/day
  • But even as costs rose to 1.30/person/day, it
    was not enough to sustain a reasonable working or
    living standard
  • The government economized by cutting back on
    machinery and tools for the work projects

  • Food was not good and cooks were untrained
  • At a wage of twenty cents per day most men could
    not save any money and when they left the camps
    they were just as poor as when they entered
  • If the conditions were so harsh why did men go? -
    while enrolment was suppose to be voluntary most
    men had no choice
  • Unemployed young men were often refused relief
    and expelled from cities

  • Camps were a last resort
  • Unrest in camps began to occur - there were over
    360 strikes, riots, disturbances over a four year
  • The Relief Camp Workers Union, affiliated with
    the Communist party, organized active protests
  • The Governments response was to deduct wages of
    the protesters and expel the ring leaders

  • The Relief Camp Workers Union began to protest
    for better wages
  • the appeal was particularly successful in British
    Columbia, where discontent was very pronounced
  • It was here that the On-to-Ottawa Trek began

on-to-ottawa trek
  • In April 1935 many men had had enough
  • 3,000 men from British Columbias relief camps
    went on strike

  • They traveled to Vancouver and took over the city
    library and the Hudsons Bay store
  • May Day 1935 - 20,000 workers and their
    supporters paraded through Vancouvers city
  • Unfortunately the city could not help them it
    had very little relief money
  • So when Arthur Slim Evans of the Workers Unity
    League (WUL) suggested they travel to Ottawa to
    carry their message directly to PM Bennett,
    people very enthusiastic

  • The Trek - Since the Trekkers had no money, they
    had to ride the rods (rails) to Ottawa
  • 1000 strikers climbed to the top of boxcars foe
    the ride to Ottawa
  • At each stop along the way they were met with
    support and many others joined them on their trek
  • On June 14, 1935 the trek, comprised of 2000 men,
    converged upon Regina

  • By, now Bennett had determined that the trek
    would go no further
  • Bennett ordered the railroads to refuse transport
    beyond Regina
  • Eight leaders were allowed to continue on to
    Ottawa for a meeting with the PM

  • The trekkers presented their demands
  • 50 cents/hour and 5 day work week
  • Workers to be covered under the Compensation Act
    and have adequate first aid supplies on all
    relief jobs
  • Democratically elected committee of relief
    workers to be recognized by the authorities
  • Relief camps were not to be controlled by the
    Department of National Defence
  • Social and unemployment insurance
  • That all workers be guaranteed their democratic
    right to vote

  • Meeting Unsuccessful - the meeting with Bennett
    did not accomplish anything
  • Bennett thought Evans was trying to start a
    revolution while Evans thought Bennett was a liar
  • Bennett said 20 cents was a gift and that
    conditions in camp were adequate
  • Evans returned to Regina determined to continue
    the trek but they knew it would be difficult to
    make their way to Ottawa

  • The Regina Riots - On July 1, 1935 trekkers and
    their supporters organized a rally in Reginas
    Market Square
  • RCMP and Police moved through the crowd arresting
    the leaders
  • Gun shots were heard and a riot broke out leaving
    one policeman dead, many injured and 100 arrested

  • Eight men, including Evans were convicted and
    sent to jail
  • The On-to-Ottawa trek was over
  • Some returned to the camps while others went home
    or set off for other destinations
  • This violent end to the Trek did little to
    increase Bennetts faltering public opinion

Social and Political Responses
Bennetts New Deal
  • In the early years of the Depression Bennett
    insisted that the economy would eventually
    recover on its own
  • He felt that state intervention would only
    distort the free market economy and hamper the
    economic recovery
  • A the election year of 1935 approached Bennett
    knew he had to change his tune

  • Bennett addressed the nation in a series of radio
    broadcasts and proposed a new deal to Canadians
  • He proposed
  • Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act - to help restore
    and preserve farm land devastated by drought
  • Canadian Wheat Board - to administer the sale of
    grain and promote higher prices for wheat

  • The Natural Products Marketing Board - to
    institute marketing prices to help farmers
    receive higher prices for their crops
  • He wanted to implement health care and
    unemployment insurance but was thwarted by the
  • Bank of Canada Act - to regulate credit and

  • Canadians disillusioned with Bennetts handling
    of the Depression distrusted his new found
    embrace of the New Deal
  • Many saw the deal as a way to save his political
    career but it was too late
  • Bennetts competition was Liberal MacKenzie King
    who made few promises other than to cancel the
    relief camps

  • King was elected the new PM and adopted some of
    the items from Bennetts New Deal as policy
  • King and his government moved slowly and
  • If Canadians wanted innovative ways of dealing
    with the depression they would have to look
    outside the government at new political parties

The Social Credit Party
  • One of the most distinctive responses arose in
  • William Aberhart, a teacher and fundamentalist
    Christian preacher with a radio show was the
  • Believed that the heart of the problem was the
    there was poverty in the midst of plenty

  • Banks refused to loan common people money because
    they saw them as a risk
  • Believed in Social Credits money given to
    Canadians to increase the purchasing power,
    standard of living and manufacturing
  • Aberhart decided to run for office after the
    provincial government in power rejected his
    social credit idea

  • During the election he promised 25/month to each
    Albertan to increase purchasing power
  • Elected to office in a landslide vote (56 of 63
  • The morning after the election a line up outside
    the City Hall started with eager Albertans
    expecting their 25 dividend which never came

  • Aberhart and his government began a long battle
    to implement campaign promises
  • The Government issued prosperity certificates
    an initiative put in place to deliver on the
    election promise of 25
  • It was suppose to substitute cash and increase
    purchasing power but it failed since companies
    would not accept vouchers as money

  • Aberhart tried to get eleven pieces of
    legislation passed but the federal government
    shot them down
  • This only further increased the resentment in
    western Canadians felt toward the federal
  • Social Credit Party provided Alberta with another
    political party alternative and remained in power
    until 1971

Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF)
  • Formed in 1932
  • Leader --gt J.S. Woodsworth
  • Representatives of farmers groups, labour unions,
    socialist parties and intellectuals were all
    present at the founding convention

  • At the first Annual Regina Conference the party
    passed the Regina Manifesto --gt principles of
    democratic socialism (resources being owned by
    the population)
  • Supported the government takeover of key
    capitalist industries - ensured that interests of
    the people were protected
  • Promoted the welfare state and state sponsored
    medical care and unemployment insurance

  • Party had limited success in 1935 only winning 7
  • The party has never been a serious contender but
    provided opposition to governments in power
  • Pressured the government to implement Medicare,
    social housing, workplace protection and other
    social programs

  • In Saskatchewan the party had more success when
    Tommy Douglas led the party to its first victory
    in 1944
  • Later it would become known as the NDP and elect
    governments in Ontario, Manitoba, and British

  • A lot of the early movement for change came from
    the church
  • Proposed programs to regulate monopolies and
    improve conditions for farmers, workers and the
  • A new group was formed called the Union Nationale
    and ran for election but they lost in the 1936
    election by a slim margin

  • Leader was Maurice Duplessis
  • He demanded - improved working conditions, aid to
    farmers and an ending to government corruption
  • He thought that it was the English speaking
    minority in Quebec and the federal government who
    were the cause of Quebecs economic and social

  • Won in 1936
  • Once in power they made few reforms
  • Duplessis main goal was preserving Quebecs
    pride against the federal government - Preserving
    the French language, Roman Catholic religion and
  • Not a separatist group but wanted more provincial
    self government and control to follow up on
    economic policies

  • Political success included giving farmers cheap
    loans. roads and electrification programs, and
    attacked those who had communist connections
  • Gained support of the employers since he was
    against strikes
  • Used provincial police to break up strikes

  • Illegal Actions - he would threaten any one
    against him with the loss of their job or
    government contract, and won elections by using
    faulty electoral lists and stuffed ballot boxes
  • Except 1939-1944 Duplessis was in power from
    1936-39 and then from 1945-1959

The Communist Party
  • Small group that nurtured the seed of discontent
  • Leader was Tim Buck
  • Found a group of young men who couldnt find work
    to listen to his ideas
  • Not hard to convince the men that the capitalist
    system was not able to provide for their basic

  • Federal government outlawed the party in 1931
  • Their numbers and activism began to grow and take
  • The governments fear grew which led to the
    arrest of Tim Buck and 7 other members (jailed
    from 1932-34)
  • Due to their organization skills the party held
    hunger marches, protests and strikes that
    couldnt be ignored by the government

Aboriginal People and the Depression
  • During the Depression the fate of aboriginals
    reached distressing levels
  • Government did only the bare minimum (what was
    stated in the treaties)
  • As the Depression became worse services to
    aboriginals were cut back to almost non-existent
    levels, such as public healthcare

  • Birth rate was twice as high, while the death
    rate was 4 times higher than other Canadians
  • Conditions for Metis were worse since no treaties
    existed between them and the government
  • The few provisions that were given to other
    aboriginals were not given to the Metis

  • By 1934 conditions for the Metis were so bad that
    the Alberta government had to set up a committee
    to look into the situation - the findings were
  • 90 of the population had tuberculosis,
    blindness, paralysis or syphilis
  • Population was at risk of becoming extinct

  • Government response - set up six colonies and
    provide healthcare and schools
  • It was not successful
  • The government did remain involved in one aspect
    of aboriginal life - Residential Schools
  • Boarding schools were set up off the reserves for
    young aboriginals

  • By 1920 there were 80 schools located in every
    province and territory in Canada except New
    Brunswick and PEI
  • Schools were run by the government in partnership
    with religious organizations
  • Goal was assimilation

  • To succeed schools were located away from
    reservations, students were not allowed to speak
    in their mother tongue, curriculum was either
    ignored or the study of aboriginal history was
  • The emphasis of learning was labour skills for
    the males and home making skills for the females
  • Living conditions were less than adequate
  • Many students experienced sexual and physical
    abuse by their teachers and administrators

  • Students were uprooted from their families and
  • Stripped of culture and religion
  • Short and long term affects were devastating
  • It would take over 60 years before the last
    residential school was closed

Canadian Culture in the Depression
  • In the 1920s, Canadian artists began to explore
    abstract and non-objective painting
  • While this continued into the 1930s, as the
    Depression became more severe many artists began
    to bring realism back into their art
  • Images of the unemployed, foreclosed farms, and
    helplessness became the new subjects for many
    artists in Canada

  • To escape the trials of the Depression, readind
    became a more popular form of recreation
  • Romance and adventure stories allowed many
    Canadians to chance to escape the life of poverty
    and despair that surrounded them
  • Realism began to penetrate Canadian novels as
    authors reflected on the world around them

  • The Radio became the dominate player in Canadian
    culture during the 1930s
  • Foster Hewitt and Hockey Night in Canada
    continued to be a favourite for Canadians
  • The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, formed in
    1936 which provided popular radio programs such
    as The Happy Gang and Amos n Andy which
    helped Canadians escape the gloom of
    unemployment, failing crops and poverty

  • During the Depression, Canadian culture continued
    to thrive and grow, as Canadians looked for both
    a means to escape and for comfort in the growing
    realism that reflected the pain and suffering so
    many were going through

Questions to Think about
  • Why did the third party parties that were formed
    in the 1930s have the majority of their support
    in the Prairie provinces?
  • How did the Depression mark a new stage in
    government intervention in the economy and in the
    lives of Canadians?
  • Why did many Canadian artists and writers turn to
    realism to express their ideas and works of art
    during the Depression?