Ordeal by Fire: Canada, 1910-1945

By Ralph Allen | Go to book overview

XXXIII
The splendid euphoria of the rumrunning days--The Diamond Jubilee and the Briand-Kellogg Pact

NOW, in the last years of the twenties, Canada began to share the Great American Boom. The country had vastly changed its character. People were moving mainly into the cities, but they were also moving into the North. The great metal finds of the early part of the century had forced the railroads to go and take them out. Their fingers, stretching into the Canadian Shield, had greatly changed the traditionally lateral shape of the country. Men by the thousands were moving into the bush to harvest, first of all, its pulpwood, then its nickel, copper, silver, lead, zinc, and gold. Nearly three hundred million dollars in metal came out of the Shield in 1928, a very sizable amount in the currency and the Canada of those times. Pulp and paper were producing nearly twice as much. Iron had not been found close enough to transportation to start bringing it out, and oil in quantity had not been found at all.

Mechanization had started on the farms, and so had industrialization in the cities. The country had begun to make use of its immense resources of hydroelectric power. The pole of gravity had begun to move, to the general advantage, away from the farms and the small towns to the cities and the North.

It was a poor man indeed who couldn't buy his family at least a secondhand Model-A Ford, a Chevrolet, a Chandler, or a Buick. In the cities it was a poorer man who couldn't take his family to the local theater to see Lillian Gish or Norma Talmadge. In the rural parts the town hall above the barbershop was usually filled with Swiss Bell Ringers or other musicians called the Bluebird Five.

It was a happy time. The per capita income was almost five hundred dollars--in British Columbia it was almost six hundred.

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