Ordeal by Fire: Canada, 1910-1945

By Ralph Allen | Go to book overview

VI
The Stringency and the collapse of the land boom--Farewell to Eureka Park

FOR all the Sturm und Drang over Parliament Hill, for all the confusing and contradictory reports from abroad about the imminence or impossibility of war, the country had other things to think about. During the previous twelve months Stephen Leacock had published his delightful Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Robert Service had written Rhymes of a Rolling Stone, and the new verses of a wide-eyed Indian maiden named Pauline Johnson had caught the country's imagination more vividly than either Leacock or Service.

But it was not Parliament, not culture, not even the Kaiser, that bulked most prominently in the ken of most Canadians in the year 1913. The biggest and certainly the most intimate news was the Stringency. A few editors of the less responsible kind came right out and used the word "depression." But "stringency" was the accepted euphemism.

Whatever the name, the reality was felt everywhere. During the year ninety-eight leading stocks dropped an average of 17 per cent. C.P.R. slumped from a high of $2.66 to a low of $2.15, and even bank stocks were down an average of seven points. New building was down by a quarter.

No two people agreed exactly on all the causes. That most of the world was undergoing a minor recession was apparent; it was equally apparent that Canada's was a major one. The more or less universal factors affecting most nations were wars and threats of wars in the Balkans, revolutions and threats of revolutions in China and Mexico, and a nervous tendency to hoard gold almost everywhere.

-52-

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