BECK index

Canada 1850-1935

by Sanderson Beck

   Canadian Union 1850-56
   Canadian Union 1857-66
   Canadian Federation & Macdonald 1867-80
   Canadian Federation & Macdonald 1881-96
   Canada & Liberal Laurier 1896-1911
   Canada & Conservative Borden 1911-14
   Canada, Borden & the Great War 1914-18
   Canada & Conservative Borden 1919-20
   Canada & Liberal Mackenzie King 1921-30
   Canada in Depression & Bennet 1930-32
   Canada in Depression & Bennet 1933-35

Canadian Union 1850-56

Canada under British Rule 1817-50

      British colonies in America had suffered during the worldwide depression 1847-50 as many poor Irish arrived. On 26 January 1850 Canada West opened the massive Lunatic Asylum in Toronto and admitted 211 patients from a jail. A reform act in 1850 ended primogeniture so that all sons and daughters would have an equal share in inheriting real estate instead of only the oldest son. The Guarantee Act of 1849 had provided the government’s guarantee of bonds for railways with as much as 5% interest after the railway had completed half of its construction. Canada had only 66 miles of railways operating, but these would increase dramatically in the 1850s. William Logan had completed a Geological Survey of Canada in 1842, and this helped Canadian mining companies to explore the north shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior. The Montreal Company opened the Wellington copper mine there in the early 1850s. Many Scots, Irish, and British immigrants came to Nova Scotia, and their population increased to 276,854 in 1851.
      Imperial control of the Post Office ended when the provinces were given that authority in 1851, the year they decided to stop paying for Indian presents in 1858. Also in 1851 the Clear Grits supported John A. Macdonald’s bill to abolish the Court of Chancery. When this won over a majority of Canada West’s members, Premier Robert Baldwin resigned in June; Canada East’s Premier Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine soon followed. Governor-General James Bruce, the Earl of Elgin, had Francis Hincks and Lafontaine’s successor Augustin-Norbert Morin form a ministry, and Hincks included two Grits to maintain the Reform Party.
      John Strachan (1778-1867), the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto, got a royal charter, and in 1851 he founded Trinity College in Toronto. Armand-François-Marie de Charbonnel, the Bishop of Toronto 1847-60, started St. Michael’s College, and Free Presbyterians began Knox College. In 1853 Francis Hincks passed the University Act which established University College as a non-sectarian college in the University of Toronto, named in 1849 by Baldwin’s government when it removed the Church of England’s influence over what had been King’s College.
      In January 1852 L’Avenir suspended publication, and Le Pays became the Rouges’ paper for Montreal. An effort to combine the two Canadas with the Atlantic provinces was given up in the spring of 1852. In November the Grand Trunk Railway Company was incorporated. British ordered their Atlantic squadron to enforce more strictly the 1818 Fisheries Convention. In 1852 Prince Edward Island began their public school system, and controversy developed over whether to allow Bible reading in schools. Protestants demanded it while Catholics were strongly opposed. A compromise mandated Bible reading in common schools, though children could be excused from attending. Also in 1852 their legislature allowed women to bring suits in seduction cases instead of the father. Catharine Parr Traill (1802-99) published the novels The Backwoods of Canada in 1836 and Canadian Crusoe in 1852.
      A census after the first ten years of the Union was completed in 1852 and estimated that Canada West had 952,000 people and Canada East 890,000. The two Canadas had doubled their population. Montreal had grown from 40,000 people to 57,000 and Toronto from 14,000 to 30,000.
      The Sons of Temperance persuaded the government to prohibit the use of alcohol in January 1853, but it was repealed the following year. They tried temperance again in 1855 and found it difficult to enforce, and the government resigned. In the next election the Liberals were defeated, and the law was repealed.
      Hincks negotiated a deal with the Grand Trunk Railway Company to connect Montreal with the Great Western Railway, and in the next 15 years they built 3,200 kilometers of railway at the cost of over $100 million. Reformer George Brown had been elected to the Assembly in 1851, and he advocated separation of church and state. In 1853 he proposed representation by population, and Parliament increased the membership from 85 to 130 with 65 each from Canada West and Canada East.
      The Welland Canal that connects ship traffic between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie was extended and improved in 1846 and 1848, and in 1853 it was used by 2,743 British ships and 2,705 American vessels. In 1854 it was supplemented by the completion of the Erie and Ontario Railway.
      Joseph Howe (1803-73) resumed editing the Nova Scotian and the Morning Chronicle, and he was Provincial Secretary for the liberal administration of Nova Scotia from 1848 to 1854. In 1853 he became the first Chief Commissioner of Railways, but in 1855 the conservative Charles Tupper defeated him in the election for his Assembly seat. Tupper allied with the Catholic minority and promoted railroad construction.
      Canada’s economy was improving in the 1850s. Governor-General Elgin and the United States Secretary of State William Marcy on 5 June 1854 signed the Canadian-American Reciprocity Treaty that ended the American tariff of 21% on natural resources and allowed free trade for natural products such as wheat, livestock, meat, poultry, eggs, coal, lumber, ore, hemp, and tobacco. The treaty was for ten years, and then either side could give one year notice to withdraw. The Americans were allowed to fish north of the 36th parallel and could navigate in Lake Michigan. The treaty enabled Canadian exports to increase by 33%, and American exports went up by 7%. The treaty included New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland as well as the two provinces of Canada. Indian affairs were also transferred from the British Empire to the provinces, but the colonial governments still wanted the imperial garrisons in Canada, New Brunswick, and the naval base at Halifax. Liberal William Young was Premier of Nova Scotia 1854-60.
      Francis Hincks (1807-85) had immigrated from Ireland and became Co-Premier of Canada West in 1851. He was involved in two corruption scandals with railways. In 1854 he made £10,000 on the Great Northern Railway contract. In 1854 he went to England with Elgin to negotiate the Reciprocity Treaty that would establish free trade between the northern provinces and the United States on coal, fish, and farm and forest products. When the representation of the two Canadas was to be increased to 65 each and believing that the Clergy Reserves issue and others needed the enlarged Assembly, he dissolved the old Assembly. In the election during that hot summer the ministry of Hincks did not get a majority, and he resigned. The new Parliament opened in Quebec City on September 5. The Ministry’s candidate George-Étienne Cartier was defeated for speaker, and Hincks helped Louis-Victor Sicotte get elected and then resigned two days later. On September 11 Governor-General Elgin asked Allan MacNab (1798-1862) to form a ministry which he did with Augustin-Norbert Morin.
      The Great Western Railway was completed in 1855 with 360 miles of track from Niagara Falls by way of Hamilton and London to Windsor opposite Detroit, and that year the Northern Railway ran a hundred miles from old Toronto to Collingwood at Georgian Bay in the Upper Lakes. In 1855 judges could permit mothers to have custody of infant children.
      John Alexander Macdonald was born on 10 January 1815 in Scotland. His family moved to Kingston in Upper Canada in 1820. His father was a magistrate. John went to school until he was 15. He studied law and worked for the corporate lawyer George Mackenzie. After Mackenzie’s death in 1834 Macdonald returned to Kingston in 1835 and practiced law. He was called to the bar in 1836, and he helped the students Oliver Mowat and Alexander Campbell who later became successful politicians. Macdonald worked as a criminal lawyer and was required to serve in Upper Canada’s militia. After his father’s death in 1841, he visited England. In March 1843 he was elected an alderman in Kingston. In 1844 he ran for the legislature of Canada and provided alcohol to get elected in October. He advanced in the law and became a receiver general for financial institutions in 1847. He was re-elected and 1849 was forced to resign with the outvoted Conservatives.
      In 1851 Macdonald became Attorney General for a coalition government in Canada West. He continued in that office when the Liberal-Conservatives gained power in West Canada in 1854. John Ross, the President of the Grand Trunk Railway, was chosen to be Speaker of the Legislative Council. George-Étienne Cartier of Canada East joined the cabinet, and he became Macdonald’s political partner in 1855. That year French reformers in the Parti Bleu (Blue Party) formed a coalition with John Macdonald and other British Conservatives as the Liberal-Conservative Party. They passed the secularization of the Clergy Reserves and managed to abolish seigneurial tenure by providing compensation. The Anglican Church became self-governing and ended its connection to the British Crown. Protestant churches were private while the Roman Catholic Church was still partially established in Canada East.
      When Governor-General Elgin retired in 1854, he was succeeded by Edmund Walker Head who had been Lt. Governor of New Brunswick since 1848. Augustin-Norbert Morin was Joint Premier of Canada East since 1851, and early in 1855 he retired and was succeeded by Etienne Pascal Taché. That year the British had only 1,887 troops in Canada and 1,397 in the Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Canada began a voluntary system for defense, and no Sedentary Militia were mustered from 1856 to 1864. The government moved back to Toronto in October 1855. That year William Dawson published Acadian Geology and moved to Montreal to be Principal of McGill University. Catharine Parr Traill published The Canadian Settler’s Guide. François-Xavier Garneau published his multi-volume Histoire du Canada from 1845 to 1862.
      The School Bill of 1855 enlarged Catholic school rights in Canada West to make them comparable to the Protestants in Canada East. The Methodist minister Egerton Ryerson (1803-82) was superintendent for education in Canada West 1844-76. He advocated Christian missionary work, and his writings influenced the abuses in the Canadian Indian residential schools. Canada West enacted taxes to finance public schools, textbooks, and administration. He favored centralized power over local school boards, and he promoted normal schools to train teachers, teachers’ institutes and associations, and publication of the Journal of Education for Upper Canada.
      Newfoundland become self-governing in 1855, and British Governor Charles Darling brought a new system. In July the legislature opened shore fisheries to all Canadians and Americans.
      Governor-General Head while touring Canada West in early 1856 said the British race was “superior.” This made the French Canadians angry, and the freshly revived L’Avenir responded. An act in 1856 made the Legislative Council elective. The Tories agreed because it required those elected to have a certain amount of property. Joint Premier Allan MacNab turned out to be so incompetent that he resigned on May 21 and was replaced by John A. Macdonald in Canada West. In a letter to a Lower Canadian (Canada East) journalist he wrote,

No man in his senses can suppose that
this country can for a century to come
be governed by a totally unfrenchified govt.—
if a Lower Canadian Britisher desires to conquer
he must “stoop to conquer”—
He must make friends with the French—
without sacrificing the status of his race or lineage
he must respect their nationality—
Treat them as a nation and they will act
as a free people generally do—generously.
Call them a faction, and they became factious—
Supposing the numerical preponderance
of British in Canada becomes much greater than it is.
I think the French could give more trouble
than they are said now to do.1

Joint-Premiers Macdonald and Taché maintained the Union and included as Attorney General East, George-Étienne Cartier who promoted a civil code. That spring five British regiments were sent to defend the colony amid fears of annexation by the United States. In August the Northwestern Steamboat Company was organized to improve trade between Collingwood and the head of the lakes. The Grant Trunk Railway connected Montreal to Toronto in October 1856. That year the export of wheat and flour by the St. Lawrence River reached a peak of 9,391,531 bushels. On 15 December 1856 the annexation of the Hudson’s Bay Company territory was called for by 18 Reform members of Parliament and 32 newspaper editors.

Canadian Union 1857-66

      On 8 January 1857 hundreds of Reformers and Grits gathered at Temperance Hall in Toronto, and the platform they drafted called for annexing the Northwest. Canada’s economic boom in the 1850s ended in 1857 as the crash of the New York Stock Exchange affected the Canadians. The economic panic of 1857 reduced provincial finances and affected many investors. Land values fell, and banks deeply involved in mortgages struggled to survive. The Bank of Upper Canada failed while the Bank of Montreal continued to prosper without mortgages. Canadian governments found it necessary to raise tariffs for revenue, and British merchants complained. Canadian politicians argued that unless the British wanted to pay for the administration, they would have to let Canadians run their own governments.
       In 1857 Newfoundland’s legislature was united against the British and the other colonies. Roman Catholics regained power in the elections of 1859, but they came into conflict over a steamship service, poor relief, and public salaries. The conservative opposition leader Hugh Hoyles formed a new government, won an election, and was Prime Minister of Newfoundland from March 1861 for four years. When the new legislature met in May, the St. John’s Catholics protested in the streets; but troops repressed them and wounded the priest Jeremiah O’Donnell. Eventually politicians learned to share power between Catholics, Anglicans, and Methodists in filling public offices and providing aid to schools even though it was less efficient. The first trans-Atlantic cable was laid on the seabed in 1858 from Ireland to Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, but sea-water corroded the insulation, and a second cable would not be operational until it was brought to Heart’s Content, Newfoundland in July 1866. In 1861 the Maritime colonies of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island had a population of at least 650,000 while the United Provinces of Canada East and Canada West had 2.5 million people.
      Conservatives took over the government of Nova Scotia in February 1857, and James W. Johnston was Premier for three years. Charles Tupper began working in June with New Brunswick and Canada to develop an intercolonial railway system; but he failed to get support in England in 1858. That year Canadian politics was deadlocked between the Macdonald-Cartier Liberal-Conservative coalition that was declining in Canada West while the Reformer George Brown’s Grits joined with the Rouge minority in Canada East. After the Cartier-Macdonald ministry resigned on July 29 and was replaced by the reformers Brown and Antoine-Aimé Dorion for only six days, Governor-General Edmund Head asked Cartier and Macdonald to form another government in what was called the “double shuffle.” Governor-General Head supported Alexander Tilloch Galt who became Finance Minister in 1858, and they accepted his proposals for a confederation as a way out of the deadlock. In the 1859 election the Liberals regained control of the Nova Scotia legislature.
      James Douglas had been governing Vancouver Island as the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) chief factor since 1851. In the fall of 1857 gold was discovered at Fraser River in British Columbia. On December 29 Governor Douglas proclaimed that all the gold there belonged to the British Crown, and he tried to impose the company’s monopoly by requiring licenses with a tax of 21 shillings per month. He was a strict governor and canceled the licenses of those who disobeyed him. News of the gold lured about 33,000 miners to come there in the spring of 1858 from California, and all but 3,000 would return by the end of the year. Ships leaving San Francisco carried three times what the law permitted. Chinese arrived during the late 1850s and early 1860s.
      The British Parliament proclaimed James Douglas the first governor of British Columbia in August 1858. That month miners harassed Indians at Big Canyon. By the end of the year the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia were established. In early 1859 Douglas set up elected mining boards with broad regulating powers except for judicial matters. He appointed a police chief, constables, and gold commissioners to avoid the anarchy of the California gold rush. The Hudson’s Bay Company’s exclusive license from 1849 expired, and the British Government purchased their rights to Vancouver Island and made the last payment of £57,000 in October 1862. By 1863 the HBC had only 13 stations in the new province. British Columbia formed a Legislative Council in January 1864 with three equal parts for Victoria officials, local magistrates, and elected representatives. Douglas retired and left in 1864.
      Canada allowed infantry to be raised in early 1858, and by the spring of 1862 the British had 18,000 regulars in North America. Canada passed two militia acts in 1863, and the number of volunteers increased to 35,000. A Liberal effort to restrict voting was unpopular, and in the June 1863 election the Conservatives gained a large majority in the Assembly. By 1864 Canada had 88,000 men enrolled in the Sedentary Militia, though only 34,800 were called out from the Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island for training.
      The Province of Canada adopted the decimal monetary system of the United States dollar in 1858. Nova Scotia did so in 1860, and Newfoundland followed in 1865. The Association for the Protection of Canadian Industry was established in April 1858. The Colonial Bank and the International Bank failed in 1859, followed by the Bank of Clifton and the Bank of Western Canada. In 1860 Finance Minister Alexander Tilloch Galt suggested that the government could issue bank notes to replace the notes of private banks who feared they would lose money and rejected the proposal.
      Railroads such as the Grand Trunk, which ran 1,100 miles from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the Detroit River and beyond by American railroads, improved transportation and trade with the United States. Victoria Bridge over the St. Lawrence River at Montreal took five years to construct and was completed in December 1859. British colonial railways in Canada became part of American commerce in the Midwest. Borrowing money for railroads increased Canada’s debt from $18,782,565 in 1850 to $54,142,044 in 1859.
      The Globe of Toronto published articles in 1859 by the reformer George Brown, and in a speech he said,

I do hope there is not one Canadian in this assembly
who does not look forward with high hope to the day
when these northern countries shall stand out
among the nations of the world as one great confederation.
What true Canadian can witness the tide of immigration
now commencing to flow into the vast territories
of the North-West without longing to have a share
in the first settlement of that great and fertile country?...
Is it not true wisdom to commence the federative system
with our own country, and leave it open to extension
hereafter, if time and experience
shall prove it to be desirable?2

The Reform Party held a convention at Toronto in November 1859, and they demanded that the Province of Canada West get a fair representation in the Assembly based on its larger population, having already a half million more people than Quebec in the East. The Reform Party proposed the federation of Canada with one overall government with limited powers and local governments for the East, the West, and the Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.
      Canada’s government depended on the British Navy which was based at Halifax. Their Pacific base was in Valparaiso, Chile and would not move to Vancouver Island until 1865. Some Canadian volunteers served the British Empire in the Crimean War against Russia in 1854-56 and during the Mutiny in India in 1857, and 53,532 Canadians volunteered and fought for the Union Army in the American Civil War 1861-65. In 1861 Canada West had 11,223 Negroes while Canada East had only 190. The Grand Trunk Railroad had a $13 million deficit, and they declared bankruptcy. By 1861 New Brunswick had 252,047 people, and the population of Prince Edward Island increased to 80,857.
      The 1851 census had reported that the total Canada population was 1,842,265 with 952,004 in Upper Canada and 890,261 in Lower Canada. In the 1861 census Upper Canada in the west had gained more population with 1,396,091 to 1,111,586 in Lower Canada with 880,902 of them speaking French. The largest cities were Montreal with 90,323, Quebec with 51,109, Toronto with 44,821, and Ottawa with 14,669. In 1861 Lower Canada in the east produced 7,963,062 bushels of wheat while Upper Canada yielded 24,620,428 bushels.
      During the Civil War in the United States the British recognized the Confederate States of America as a belligerent, and they declared neutrality. When the USS San Jacinto on November 8 stopped the British Trent from transporting Confederate diplomats to Europe, the British insisted they be released and sent 11,000 troops to reinforce garrisons in Canada. They would be spread out from the Bay of Fundy to Lake Huron. Benjamin Disraeli, the conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, considered it an “anomaly” that the army in their colony did not permit them to govern the colony.
      Canada’s Conservative government was defeated while trying to strengthen Canada’s militia in May 1862. That summer they rejected the Macdonald-Cartier militia bill to spend $1 million annually for defense, and they argued that diplomacy with the two powers Britain and the United States could prevent a war. In 1863 the Conservatives elected only 35 of the 129 legislators, and Blue Reformers elected 25 of the 65 members in Canada East. Other governments also had difficulties. On 21 March 1864 the new reform administration resigned, and the Conservatives took over the government on June 14. Two days later the Conservative Taché-Macdonald administration was forced to resign because Finance Minister Galt had loaned the Grand Trunk Railroad $100,000 without authorization. They negotiated, and on June 22 George Brown offered a compromise federation that would include all of British North America including the vast and sparsely-settled western regions.
      Confederate States of America agents in Canada tried to provoke a war with raids on American territory, and the one against St. Albans Vermont in 1864 stole $200,000 from three banks. Canadian officers arrested some of the Confederates, and the government refused to extradite them to the United States.
      Efforts for the confederation of Canada had begun in June 1864 when the Liberal George Brown from Canada West joined the conservatives John A. Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier who formed a Liberal-Conservative coalition in Canada East to work on forming a federal union. The maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island were also considering a Maritime Union, and the delegates from Canada met with them at Charlottetown in September and again at Quebec City in October 10-29. They also included Newfoundland and approved Macdonald’s 72 Resolutions which became the basis of a new constitution. The six provinces would be the three Atlantic colonies, West Canada, and Ontario and Quebec in East Canada. Newfoundland decided not to join. The federation would be called “Canada.”
      Delegates met in Quebec City in October 1864 and worked out resolutions for a confederation that were sent to the legislatures. West Canada’s Assembly debated the Quebec Resolutions from 2 February 1865 to March 11, and French Canadians in Canada East opposed them on February 20. On November 23 the United States gave notice of ending the Rush-Bagot Treaty that banned armaments on the Great Lakes. Then on December 17 the US imposed passport controls on travelers at borders, leaving some Americans stranded in Toronto, St. John’s, and Halifax. The United States denounced the Reciprocity Treaty in March 1865 and withdrew the next year.
      The British Colonial Secretary Edward Campbell, once he was assured the confederation had local support, made the plan British policy in early December. British Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the new capital, and Parliament buildings were built in the town of 14,000 people. The federalist Samuel Leonard Tilley lost the March 1865 election in New Brunswick, but Charles Tupper pushed the federal plan through the legislature in Nova Scotia over much opposition in the province. Those on Prince Edward Island were concerned that their island was too small. Many French Liberals who were called “Rouges” opposed confederation while Cartier and Conservative “Blues” believed it would be good for French Canadians who would be a majority in the province of Quebec. In 1866 Vancouver Island became part of British Columbia.

Canadian Federation & Macdonald 1867-80

      On 29 March 1867 the British Government passed the British North American Act that created the Dominion of Canada on July 1. Canada’s Federation had a Parliament with a Senate in which Ontario and Quebec each had 24 members, and Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island each had 12. In 1871 Manitoba would get 2 senators and British Columbia 3 senators. The House of Commons was based on population and was the chief lawmaking and taxing body of the Parliament. The number of members was based on population with Ontario having 106, Quebec 75, British Columbia 36, and Alberta 28; Manitoba and Saskatchewan each had 14; Newfoundland and Labrador had 7; Prince Edward Island 4; and Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut each had one. The authority of the Prime Minister and his cabinet depended on the Commons. The government was given jurisdiction over the military, postal service, banking and money, fisheries, criminal law, regulating trade, taxation, and the making of general laws.
      Governor-General Monck recognized the leader of the Liberal-Conservative coalition in the legislature John Alexander Macdonald as the Prime Minister on 1 July 1867, and he would hold that position for 19 of the next 24 years. The Liberal Premier Samuel Leonard Tilley of New Brunswick and the Conservative Premier Charles Tupper of Nova Scotia brought their provinces into the Federation, and they agreed to support Macdonald’s Liberal-Conservative Party. On November 7 Governor-General Monck read to Parliament Macdonald’s “Speech from the Throne” that called for the Act of Union to lay “the foundations of a new nationality,” and the constitution should provide “a full, fair and unprejudiced trial.” Parliament opened the next day, and a majority approved a 15% tariff rate. The Federation agreed to pay Nova Scotia’s $1 million debt, and they increased its annual grant by $82,698 per year for ten years. In 1867 Premier Hoyles could not get Newfoundland’s legislature to accept Confederation, and in 1869 they rejected it to maintain independence.
      Liberal leader George Brown accused Conservatives of dubious election tactics, and he resigned and was replaced by the Liberal Alexander Mackenzie. In 1868 the British United Kingdom transferred the vast Rupert’s Land from the HBC to Canada. Prime Minister Macdonald appointed his Minister of Public Works, William McDougall, the lieutenant-governor of the North-West Territories that had a settlement on the Red River. The French-speaking Métis and others who lived there asked for compensation and conditions. On 22 June 1869 the Canadian Parliament approved An Act for the Gradual Enfranchisement of Indians. This allowed federal officials to replace uncompromising leaders by having others elected. Indian women who married non-Indians lost their native status.
      The Méti Louis Riel led a rebellion that began in October 1869. Canada’s Minister of Public Works William McDougall did not know French, and he ordered a survey and arrived on November 2. Riel and the Métis turned him away and took over Fort Garry, an HBC trading post. The immense northwest territory of 390 million hectares (ten times the rest of Canada) called “Prince Rupert’s Land” was a commercial monopoly of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) for a century until it was sold to Britain on 19 November 1869 for £300,000 ($1.5 million) and about 2.8 million hectares of arable land in the west. HBC retained their fur-trading business, and over the years they gained $120 million from land sales. Riel set up a provisional government on December 8, and he was elected president on the 27th.
      The HBC sent Donald Alexander Smith who negotiated with Riel in January 1870. Riel proposed a convention with an equal number of English and French speakers, and a list of rights was presented to Ottawa delegates on February 7. Riel began publishing the New Nation newspaper, and they established the Legislative Assembly of Assiniboia. Many Canadians from Ontario tried and failed to overthrow Riel, and on 4 March 1870 he executed by a firing squad young Thomas Scott, who was a Protestant Orangeman. Riel and his followers fled to the United States, and Macdonald negotiated with the remaining Métis and met most of their demands.
      On May 12 the federal government’s Manitoba Act confirmed the Red River settlement in the Province of Manitoba. On June 24 the Assembly of Assiniboia recognized Manitoba as a province in the Confederation of Canada and dissolved itself. Manitoba became Canada’s fifth province on July 15 when the Deed of Surrender transferred all of the Northwest Territories and Rupert’s Land to the Dominion of Canada. English and French were officially recognized. The British Col. Garnet Wolseley led imperial and colonial troops that included Orangemen, and they imposed military government. Riel and some of his followers escaped to the United States in 1870, and others went into hiding.
      In 1869-70 the French formed the parti national to bring more honesty into provincial politics, and in 1872 their candidate L. A. Jetté was chosen over Cartier in the federal election. In 1870 the Iroquois and Ojibwa organized the Grand Indian Council, and they protested federal legislation that took land near their towns. In 1870-71 the British withdrew their garrisons from Canada, leaving forces only at their naval base at Halifax. In 1872 Cartier introduced the first Militia Bill that authorized the volunteer enlistment of 40,000 for three years in the Active Militia, and they raised 37,170. The Reserve Militia included 618,948 from the four provinces. Militia expenditures had been $1,562,023 in 1871, and they were reduced to $1,013,943 in 1875 and to $550,451 in 1876.
      Canada followed the American policy of dividing land into townships with six square miles containing 36 sections of one square mile. The 1872 Dominion Lands Act provided settlers with a grant of 160 acres for a $10 registration fee. Those residing for three years, cultivating 30 acres, and building a permanent dwelling could get an adjoining section at a fair price. The Macdonald and the government made seven treaties with aborigines in the Rockies from 1871 to 1877. They were granted reserves where they could farm and were given tools, seed, and training, and treaties recognized their hunting and fishing rights. Natives were not given voting rights because they represented 80% of the population.
      After two finance ministers resigned, Francis Hincks served as Minister of Finance 1869-73, and he got a Bank Act passed that favored the Bank of Montreal. Americans rented access to Canadian fishing areas for ten years at rates settled by arbitration in the treaty signed at Washington on 8 May 1871. That agreement recognized Canada as an independent nation and settled several existing controversies of the United States and Canada. Money was needed to pay for Rupert’s Land. The newspaper editor Amor de Cosmos had proposed including British Columbia as a province in March 1867, and it became part of Canada on 20 July 1871 as the sixth province. Canada assumed British Columbia’s debt and approved an annual grant of $100,000. The 1871 census counted 3,090,581 people in the expanded Canada, and the French Canadians had increased to 1,082,940.
      In 1872 the Toronto Typographical Society organized a successful strike that persuaded George Brown and the Globe newspaper to grant them a nine-hour day and a six-day week. The federal government then approved the Trade Unions Act that recognized the right of unions to organize and strike without being prosecuted. Yet an amendment to the criminal code authorized prison sentences for picketing and unions’ pressure tactics.
      Macdonald agreed to accept Prince Edward Island’s railroad debt and promised year-round communication, and it became the seventh province on 1 July 1873. British Prime Minister William Gladstone withdrew the British garrisons from Canada except for naval bases at Halifax, Nova Scotia and Esquimalt on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. A British officer still commanded the Canadian militia.
      Canada’s Prime Minister Macdonald was re-elected with the Conservatives in 1872 while his ally George-Étienne Cartier was defeated in Montreal. Cartier would continue to assist Macdonald until his death in May 1873. They began the tradition of having a Prime Minister and his assistant with one being English-speaking and the other French-speaking. Macdonald passed legislation that legalized and regulated unions, and he was one of three commissioners to negotiate with the British over grievances the Americans suffered from the British supporting the Confederacy during their Civil War in 1861-65. Macdonald approved a railroad from Quebec to Halifax that reached Moncton in November 1872. They would borrow $21 million to complete this Intercolonial Railway from Quebec to Halifax, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick by 1 July 1876.
      The Pacific railroad was expected to cost $100 million, and the government offered a subsidy of $50 million with 50 million acres to any private company that would take on the project. The Canadian-Pacific Railway Company in Montreal won over those in Toronto who complained that their rival was controlled by the Northern Pacific Railway Company in the United States. In 1873 a Montreal group led by steamship mogul Hugh Allan was suspected of giving $300,000 to the Conservative Party’s election campaign. Macdonald in February 1873 made Allan president of the Canadian-Pacific Railway Company, and on April 2 the Liberal MP Lucius Huntington accused Allan of buying the charter by donating $360,000 to the Conservative Party. Macdonald on April 8 proposed a committee with three Conservatives and two Liberals. On May 3 Parliament’s Administration of Justice, North-West Territories Act, 1873 established the North-West Mounted Police to maintain law and order. Cartier died on May 20. Macdonald resigned on November 5 to avoid a no-confidence vote, and during the 1873 financial panic the Liberals defeated Macdonald and the Conservatives in Canada’s House of Commons.
      The politician and army officer Alexander Mackenzie became Prime Minister on 7 November 1873. He used the scandal as justification to dissolve Parliament, and his Liberal Party with 35% of the votes gained 34 seats to win the election on 22 January 1874 over Macdonald’s Conservatives and Liberal-Conservatives who together had 30% of the votes and lost 34 seats.
      Macdonald had organized the North-West Mounted Police, and 300 men arrived in 1874. They expelled whiskey traders who had exploited natives, and they worked for peace among the native tribes and the settlers. United States Senators opposed commercial reciprocity, and the Liberals in Canada cut expenses and raised tariffs to generate revenue. On May 19 Edward Blake became Minister of Justice and Attorney General. He added admiralty courts and proposed the Supreme Court Act in 1875 to review Canadian laws and take on appeals from other courts, though the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council would continue to be the final court of appeal for 75 years. On 8 April 1875 the bipartisan Supreme and Exchequer Court Act established both the Supreme Court and the Exchequer Court, the latter having jurisdiction on revenue issues. In 1875 the Northwest Territories were organized with a governor and a council.
      In the 1870s Canada had about 145,000 Indians, and from 1871 to 1876 the Crees, Chippewas, and Ojibways signed six treaties. They agreed to live in reserves and were paid $12 per person and $5 annual payments with grants of $25 for Chiefs and $15 for Councillors. They were allowed to hunt on their previous land except where private land was purchased. The government would prohibit all liquor, and the Indians agreed to be peaceful.
      On 12 April 1876 the government’s Indian Act was approved and sought to dominate the tribes by controlling them without making them citizens. Treaties became laws that governed their lives. The Department of Indian Affairs was organized in 1880, and their agents promoted “Canadianization” which suppressed their traditions.
      Five indigenous nations including the Blackfeet negotiated with Canada at the Blackfoot Crossing of Bow River and Fort Macleod starting on 22 September 1877, and on December 4 they signed Treaty 7. The great Blackfoot confederacy in 1879 was the last of the nations in the plains to move to their reserves in what is now southern Alberta. The Indian Act passed on 7 May 1880 encouraged enfranchised Indians to vote so that the government could force tribes to accept their elected leaders over the hereditary ones. Half-breeds in Manitoba were not to be accounted as Indians. The Federal Department of Indian Affairs was established under a Superintendent-General.
      The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) would reach Fort William by Lake Superior in Manitoba in 1878. On 17 August 1878 the Canada Gazette announced that Parliament was dissolved. The federal elections on September 17 gave Macdonald and the Conservatives with 42% of the votes 134 seats, and Mackenzie and the Liberals’ got 33% of the votes and 63 seats in the House of Commons. Mackenzie resigned on October 9, and on the 17th Macdonald became Prime Minister again. Samuel Tilley returned to be Finance Minister.
      Charles Tupper became Minister of Works and criticized Mackenzie’s railroad policy, and he advised making it a public project. Macdonald established a National Policy on tariffs in 1879 that would be Canada’s commercial policy for a century. Finance Minister Tilley raised the tariff from 15% to a range from 17.5% to 35%. This “reciprocity of tariffs” was used for United States commerce. The Bank of Montreal president George Stephen, the Hudson Bay’s Company (HBC) governor Donald Smith, the American railway promoter J. J. Hill, and Norman Kitson of the Red River Transportation Company invested in the St. Paul and Pacific Railway and controlled the stock by 1879, the year they formed the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railway. They incorporated the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) on 21 October 1880, and the government became their partner. The government granted CPR 750 miles of track already laid, a subsidy of $25 million, 25 million acres of prime western land, tax exemption on materials and property, and a 20-year monopoly on traffic in western Canada. In July 1880 the British transferred their ownership of the Arctic archipelago, and it became the District of Franklin in the Northwest Territories of Canada.
      From 1871 to 1891 about 1.2 million immigrants came to Canada while 1.5 million people left Canada to go to the United States. During those two decades Canada’s population grew from 3.7 million people to 4.8 million. In 1877 French and English became the official languages of the courts and council.

Canadian Federation & Macdonald 1881-96

      The House of Commons approved the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) bill after defeating 25 amendments on 27 January 1881, and on February 17 the Canadian Pacific Railway Company was organized. CPR reached Calgary in early August 1883, and on 4 January 1884 they acquired the lease of the Ontario and Quebec Railway. The government bought the Grand Trunk Railroad and sold it to CPR on 21 September 1885, and on November 7 the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway was completed from Quebec City to Vancouver. Canadians held only about one-sixth of the CPR stock. About 15,000 Chinese were hired to do dangerous work on the railroad in the 1880s. On 20 July 1885 the Chinese Immigration Act imposed a $50 head tax on Chinese immigrants, and it would be increased to $100 in 1900 and to $500 in 1903. Canada negotiated with Japan and limited the Japanese to 400 immigrants per year. The British sent many orphans to Canada as indentured servants.
      The census of 1881 found that only about 56,000 people were living in the vast Northwest Territories. That year the use of electricity transformed Niagara Falls from a tourist attraction into one of the world’s biggest hydroelectric generating stations. Also in 1881 the small province of Manitoba was greatly expanded to the north and east to Ontario which was also enlarged to the north. The census reported that Manitoba’s population had increased from 18,995 in 1871 to 65,954.
      In July 1881 more than 5,000 French-speaking people attended a congress at Collège Saint-Joseph. In 1884 Ontario approved legislation that limited labor to those 14 or older who could work up to 60 hours per week ten hours per day, though they could work 12-hour days for up to six weeks. All provinces used taxation to support public education. In the 1880s Canada accepted over 900,000 immigrants while over a million people left Canada. In the 1882 Quebec election Conservatives retained their 52-13 advantage over the Liberals. In the House of Commons the Conservatives with 40% of the votes won 133 seats to overcome the Liberals’ 31% of the votes and 73 seats.
      In May 1882 the Royal Society of Canada was formed to foster science and literature. In early 1883 the Liberal leader Henri Joly stepped down saying that he tried to deal with people as they ought to be, not as they are. Building the Canadian Pacific Railway discovered large amounts of nickel and copper at Sudbury in 1883. That year the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada (TLC) became the second-largest national association after the American Knights of Labor. The TLC affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Other local unions included the Provincial Workmen’s Association in the Maritime Provinces, Catholic unions in Quebec, and the radical International Workers of the World (IWW) in the west. Also in 1883 Toronto school inspector James L. Hughes and Ada Marean founded the first Canadian public school kindergarten, and the Free Kindergarten Association in Winnipeg, Manitoba began in 1892. In 1884 the province of Ontario gained territory from the settlement of a border dispute with Manitoba.
      In 1884 the Métis invited Louis Riel to return to Canada to lead them. He sent petitions to Prime Minister Macdonald that were ignored. On 18 March 1885 Riel proclaimed a provisional government again, and he asked the government in Ottawa to grant their Bill of Rights. Conflict between Métis and North-West Mounted Police killed 40 people. Major-General Frederick Middleton was sent there, and within two weeks 8,000 Canadian militia arrived on CPR trains. Crees heard about the revolt, and militants attacked the HBC trading post at Frog Lake. Riel withdrew with supporters to Batoche, and after six weeks they surrendered. Riel was convicted by an all-white jury, and he was hanged on 16 November 1885. In that short revolt 88 people died. Of the 81 Indians, 46 half-breeds and Métis, and two whites arrested, 44 Indians were convicted, and 8 Indians were hanged. In 1885 native peoples defied the federal ban on their ceremonial potlatches.
      On 25 November 1885 Canada created its first National Park at Banff in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Also in 1885 a game of bandy played between the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge at St. Moritz in Switzerland was the forerunner of the first ice hockey match in 1886 in Ontario between Queen’s University and the Royal Military College. In 1886 the Nova Scotia legislature debated whether to separate from the Confederation. Americans refused to negotiate fishing rights with Canadians, and in 1886 Canada approved an act approving enforcement of the excluded American commercial ships using Canadian ports. They boarded about 700 vessels and seized some. In 1887 under the new Act the Canadians boarded 1,362 fishing-boats.
      On 22 February 1887 the Macdonald coalition with 47% of the votes elected 123 members of the Commons, and the Liberals with 43% had 79 seats. In June the Liberal leader Edward Blake recommended the French-Canadian Wilfrid Laurier as his successor, and the Liberals chose him. The Imperial League had been founded in 1884, and they celebrated Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887 with a Colonial Conference. The issue that would cause the League to break up in 1893 was not defense but rather the tariff structure. In 1887 Canada’s First Interprovincial Conference met at Quebec City. In 1888 Canada approved universal suffrage for men, and the Northwest Territories were given representative government.
      In 1888 Quebec passed the Jesuit Estates Act to compensate the Jesuit Order for property the British had seized during the conquest and to settle claims between Jesuits and Catholic leaders in Quebec. Pope Leo XIII was asked to arbitrate. Protestants in Ontario led by Conservative D’Alton McCarthy objected to that, and they blamed Prime Minister Macdonald for conspiring with French Catholics. McCarthy founded the Equal Rights Association, took his campaign to Manitoba in 1889, and encouraged the Liberal Premier Thomas Greenway to separate Catholic schools and French language rights. In 1889 Ontario removed all French books from the list of authorized textbooks. In 1890 Manitoba’s Liberal legislature passed the Schools Act which created state-funded secular schools that were administered by a Department of Education thus abolishing separate schools based on language or religion. They also ended French as an official language. The racist Canada First movement persecuted French Canadians and aborigines. The Liberal lawyer Oliver Mowat was Premier of Ontario from 1872 to 1896.
      In 1891 Liberals led by Wilfrid Laurier ran on unrestricted reciprocity with the United States. Conservative John Macdonald began his campaign on February 17 accusing Liberals of being bought by American money, and he said,

I believe that this election, which is a great crisis
and upon which so much depends,
will show to the Americans that
we prize our country as much as they do,
that we would fight for our existence….
A British subject I was born,
and a British subject I will die.3

He managed to win one more election on March 5 with 49% of the votes to Laurier’s 45%. John Alexander Macdonald suffered three strokes in May and died on 6 June 1891. Two days later in a House of Commons speech Laurier said,

   I think it can be asserted that, for the supreme art
of governing men, Sir John Macdonald was gifted
as few men in any land or in any age were gifted—
gifted with the most high of all qualities, qualities which
would have made him famous wherever exercised,
and which would have shone all the more conspicuously
the larger the theatre.
The fact that he could congregate together elements
the most heterogeneous and blend them
into one compact party, and to the end of his life
keep them steadily under his hand,
is perhaps altogether unprecedented.
The fact that during all those years he retained unimpaired
not only the confidence, but the devotion—
the ardent devotion and affection of his party,
is evidence that, besides those higher qualities
of statesmanship to which we were the daily witnesses,
he was also endowed with those inner, subtle, undefinable
graces of soul which win and keep the hearts of men.
As to his statesmanship,
it is written in the history of Canada.
It may be said without exaggeration whatever,
that the life of Sir John Macdonald, from the date
he entered Parliament, is the history of Canada,
for he was connected and associated with the events,
all the facts which brought Canada from the position
it then occupied—the position of two small provinces,
having nothing in common but their common allegiance,
united by a bond of paper, and united by nothing else—
to the present state of development
which Canada has reached.4

      In 1891 Canada’s Census counted 4,833,239 people. Most were in Ontario with 2,114,321 and Quebec with 1,488,535. Nova Scotia was third with 450,396. New Brunswick had 321,263, Manitoba 152,506, and Prince Edward Island 109,078. The provinces with the fewest were British Columbia and Northwest Territories each with just under 99,000. Canadian people were 58% British, 30% French, and the rest were 12%. John J. Kelso began the Children’s Aid Society in 1891, and he replaced reformatories with playgrounds for children of poor families.
      Canada had four Conservative prime ministers from 1891 to 1896. John Abbott was the first Prime Minister who was born in Canada. He was the Conservative leader in the Senate and was 70 years old. John Abbott had been in Parliament for 14 years, and Macdonald had appointed him mayor of Montreal in 1887, and he served for two years. Abbott wanted John Thompson to be Prime Minister, and reluctantly Abbott accepted the vote by his divided party and became Prime Minister on June 16. He was also the senator from Quebec 1887-93. As Prime Minister he had to deal with an economic recession and the Langevin-McGreevy corruption scandal. Abbott worked on reforming the civil service and the criminal code. During his 17 months the Conservatives won 42 of the 52 by-elections. After one year Thompson was blocked again by anti-Catholics. Abbott was diagnosed with brain cancer and resigned on 24 November 1892. Then he was succeeded by John Thompson.
      In 1892 James Naismith invented the game of basketball at Algonquin Park in Ontario. In 1893 women’s clubs founded the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) that was led by Governor-General Aberdeen’s wife. In 1897 the Victorian Order of Nurses was organized. The NCWC would endorse women’s suffrage in 1910.
      Conservative John Sparrow David Thompson was the first Catholic to be Prime Minister, and he was a judge on the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. He served for two years and one week. He traveled to Paris in March 1893 to negotiate the seal harvest in the Bering Sea dispute, and a tribunal closed the Bering Sea to American seal hunters. He reduced trade tariffs and mediated school disputes in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories between Protestant and Catholic administrations. Thompson died of a heart at the age of 49 on 12 December 1894. The Wildlife Refuge of Laurentides Park was established in Quebec in 1895, and that year hydroelectric plants were built at Niagara Falls, Ontario and Shawinigan Falls in Quebec.
      Canada’s Governor-General Aberdeen chose the most senior member of the cabinet, the Conservative Mackenzie Bowell, to be Prime Minister. His attempt to resolve the dispute in the Manitoba schools caused so much division that the cabinet persuaded him to resign on 27 April 1896. Reinstated ministers selected the experienced Secretary of State Charles Tupper who had served in four different ministries and was High Commissioner to the United Kingdom 1883-95. From 1873 to 1896 Canada’s gross national product had risen 4% a year from $710 million to $1,800 million. About 75% of the Dominion’s revenue was from customs duties in 1896. That year electric power was transmitted from Niagara Falls to Buffalo, New York.

Canada & Liberal Laurier 1896-1911

      In the elections on 23 June 1896 the Liberals led by Wilfrid Laurier gained 27 seats while the Conservatives led by Charles Tupper lost 26 giving the Liberals a 117-71 advantage, though the Conservatives won the popular vote with 44% to 41% for the Liberals.
      Wilfrid Laurier was born into a French-Canadian family on 20 November 1841 in Quebec. He learned English going to a school in New Glasgow, Quebec with Scotch immigrants. He attend the Catholic Collège de L’Assomption for seven years and then studied law at McGill University. He joined the Liberal Rouge Party and graduated in 1864. He practiced law in Montreal but had few clients. In 1866 he began editing the newspaper Le Défricheur. He was elected mayor of Victoriaville and worked as a lawyer. He also became an Ensign in the Arthabaskaville Infantry Company 1869-78 that included an era of Fenian raids until 1871. That year Laurier was elected to Quebec’s Legislative Assembly while his Liberal Party was being badly beaten. In January 1874 he was elected to the House of Commons as a Liberal when they made Alexander Mackenzie the Prime Minister. On 26 June 1877 Laurier spoke to 2,000 people in Quebec City and said,

I am one of those who believe that in all human affairs
there are abuses to reform,
new horizons to discover and new forces to develop….

He suggested that Canada should follow England because liberal reforms had

made the English the freest of peoples,
the most prosperous and the happiest in Europe.
The policy of the Liberal party is to protect institutions,
to defend them and spread them, and,
under the sway of those institutions,
to develop the country’s latent resources.5

      On October 16 Wilfrid Laurier became Minister of Inland Revenue, and eleven days later he lost his seat in a by-election. Then on November 11 he won the seat of Quebec East. He was re-elected on 17 September 1878, and he would continue to hold that seat until his death on 17 February 1919. Laurier was concerned about political bribery, and on 3 June 1882 he wrote to Attorney General George Blake, “I tell you my heart sinks within me at the sight of what is going on. We cannot get candidates … unless we promise thousands of dollars to each.”6 On July 10 he wrote to Blake,

The great mass of the electors are ignorant,
and a great majority of them never read,
and remain as much in the dark as to what is going on
in this country as if they were residing in Europe.7

In June 1887 Laurier became the leader of the Liberals. He convened a Liberal convention on 20-21 June 1893 in Ottawa, and they agreed on unrestricted reciprocity to develop Canada’s natural resources.
      The Liberal leader Wilfrid Laurier became Prime Minister on 11 July 1896, and he would govern until October 1911. He chose for his cabinet the following three provincial premiers: Oliver Mowat from Ontario, Andrew Blair from New Brunswick, and William Stevens Fielding from Nova Scotia. He also selected Manitoba’s attorney general Clifford Sifton as Minister of the Interior, and immigration increased from 16,835 in 1896 to 272,409 in 1907 and to 400,870 in 1913. Canada’s population was 5,371,315 in 1901 and 7,206,642 in 1911. That census also reported that manufactured goods increased from $481,053,375 to $1,165,975,639. In that decade the population in the four prairie provinces went from 419,512 to 1,322,709. From 1900 to 1910 Canada’s agricultural production more than doubled from $364,437,305 to $760,316,804.
      As the first French-Canadian Prime Minister Laurier believed they would have a strong government because the people were with them. On 23 November 1896 to Charles Angers he wrote,

The Catholics in this country are a minority.
With tact, with firmness,
they can always make themselves respected,
but the moment they use violence,
the consequences of their act will only be disastrous.8

On December 9 in reply to a dissenting Liberal he wrote,

For me the salvation of the French race
is not in isolation, but in struggle.
Give our children the best education possible,
put them on an equal footing with those of the other race,
and give them the legitimate pride
which they will have in such a struggle.
There is salvation. There is autonomy.9

      In 1897 Laurier compromised with Manitoba’s Premier Thomas Greenway, and they agreed to allow religious instruction in public schools in the last half hour each day. Schools with ten or more students using a foreign language would have bilingual teaching. Also in 1897 Laurier and his Finance Minister William Stevens Fielding, who had been Premier of Nova Scotia 1884-96, put together the preferential tariff that was appreciated by the British.
      Farming became more profitable as improvements in agriculture helped the price of wheat multiply by four from 1891 to 1921. Most important was the development of high-yielding Marquis wheat that could mature within 100 days from late spring to early autumn. Farming was extended to the north in the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 1896 Canada exported 2 million bushels of wheat, and in 1921 this rose to over 150 million bushels. From 1896 to 1914 at least 2.5 million immigrants came to Canada with about 750,000 coming from Europe including over 100,000 Ukrainians, and about one million settled on the western prairies. Some of these were refugees who as pacifists fled military service. They were Mennonites and Hutterites from central Europe and Doukhobors from Russia who were aided by the author Tolstoy. The national population grew from 4.8 million in 1891 to 8.8 million in 1921 while the western population increased from about 250,000 to over 2 million. About 7,000 Mormons moved from Utah to Alberta by 1912.
      In 1897 Prime Minister Laurier had reduced the tariffs on British goods to experiment with the “imperial preference.” Medical research was showing how drinking alcohol was harming health, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was influencing women. Canada’s suffragist Nellie McClung had joined WCTU in 1897. Laurier allowed a national plebiscite on prohibition in 1898 that was favored by about 278,000 while some 265,000 were opposed. He noted that most people in Quebec voted no, and he was concerned that prohibition would divide the nation.
      Discovery of gold in the Klondike and Yukon River valleys in 1896 led to a gold rush that reached a peak in 1898 with 30,000 people, and half of those were in Dawson. The Northwest Mounted Police prevented violence in Dawson by banning firearms in the town and by penalizing those who broke the law. In 1898 Yukon became a territory with Dawson as its capital. British Columbia had stands of Douglas fir, spruce, and cedar that supplied timber to cities and towns in Canada and the United States and some also for Asia. In 1898 the Dene nation signed Treaties 8, 10, and 11.
      When the Boer War began in South Africa in 1899, Laurier agreed to send 1,000 volunteers to support the British. Before the end of that war in 1902, Canada sent 6,300 more volunteers. The Christian socialist Henri Bourassa opposed supporting the British war, and he withdrew from the Parliament temporarily. In 1902 in the newspaper Le Devoir he wrote,

   British imperialism, as opposed to British democracy,
to British traditions, to British grandeur—
is a lust for land-grabbing and military dominion….
Having undertaken more responsibilities
than she is able to stand, surrounded as she is
by hostile or indifferent nations,
the new Britain of Mr Chamberlain is in sore need of soldiers
and sailors to prop the fabric raised by her frantic ambition.
Being denuded of troops at home,
she turns in distress to her colonies….
   From the presence of two races in Canada,
there is no reason, I believe, to dread any danger
or even additional troubles, if only our politicians be willing,
instead of pandering to sectional prejudices,
to appeal to the best sentiments of both elements.10

In another British periodical Bourassa wrote, “The lust for abnormal expansion and imperial pride have ever been the marked features of all nations on the verge of decadence.”11
      In the 1900 election Laurier and the Liberals got 50% of the votes to defeat the Conservative Coalition of Tupper who received 46%. The Liberals controlled the legislature 128-79. In 1889 they had begun the Royal Commission on the Relations of Labour and Capital, and Labour Day became a holiday on the first Monday in September 1900. That year the British provided 85% of the foreign investment in Canada, and the United States invested 14%.
      Canada’s federal revenue in 1901 got 54% from customs duties, 20% from excise taxes, 6% from the postal service, and 3% from dominion land. From 1900 to 1913 the British invested about $1.8 billion in Canadian railways, businesses, and urban projects. In 1913 tariff revenue increased to 66%. Americans provided more than $600 million to Canada, enabling Canada’s manufacturing to quadruple between 1891 and 1916. In 1909 Americans invested $254 million in Canada, and the British provided $121 million. Major corporations included the Steel Company of Canada, Dominion Steel, Algoma Steel, Canada Cement, Maple Leaf Milling, Dominion Textiles, and Imperial Oil. Massey-Harris Limited manufactured agricultural machinery.
      In May 1902 the Revolutionary Socialist Party of Canada claimed they supported working-class interests and would not compromise like the Socialist Party of British Columbia which had begun in 1901. Sara Libby Carson was a Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) secretary and settlement worker who was influenced by Toynbee Hall in London that began in 1884. In 1902 she opened the Evangelia house in Riverdale, Toronto. Settlement houses would spread in Canada from 1910 to 1930, also inspired by Jane Addams and Hull House in Chicago that began in 1889. In 1901 Toronto’s Mayor Q. A. Howland hosted a convention of municipalities, and the Union of Canadian Municipalities was organized to challenge private monopolies that controlled so many people. One solution was public ownership of utilities, and they were especially popular in western Canada.
      John Flett of Ontario became an organizer for the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in Canada, and he helped start more than a hundred local unions in 1901 and 1902. That year in September representatives of local unions met in Berlin, Ontario for the Trades and Labor Congress (TLC), and they agreed not to organize where locals or international or national unions already existed. They also decided that the TLC should charter only one union in any city or town. The Congress elected Flett the president of the TLC, and they expelled 2,287 unionists, most of whom supported the Knights of Labor in Quebec. This conflict weakened the Canadian labor movement. Trade unionists often criticized immigration.
      A strike by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) trackmen in 1901 led to the Railway Labour Disputes Act of 1903 that allowed the Labor Minister to appoint a conciliation board. That year the Grand Trunk Railway began extending its system from Winnipeg north up the coast 550 miles from Vancouver to Prince Rupert. Canada’s third largest railway system, National Transcontinental, opened northern areas in the east by connecting to the Grand Trunk at Winnipeg and extending to Moncton. Building the northern Ontario railway uncovered silver deposits north of Lake Nipissing. Construction also revealed gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc in the Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia.
      Also in 1903 the United States President Theodore Roosevelt proposed a joint commission of six officials to arbitrate the dispute over the border between the US territory of Alaska and Canada. A new line was drawn between the two claims that included Juneau, Skagway, and Dyea in Alaska. In 1904 Laurier dismissed the British commander of Canada’s armed forces.
      In 1905 the Confederation’s Autonomy Bills divided the Northwest Territories into the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan that were expanded north to the 60th parallel. Prime Minister Laurier included an educational section that restored the separate school system in the Northwest Territories. Protestants protested this, and Interior Secretary Sifton resigned. Small Manitoba was also greatly expanded up to the 60th parallel, and Ontario gained much territory extending north up to Hudson Bay. The Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Commission was organized to produce and distribute energy in 1906. That year the British withdrew their military forces from Halifax and Esquimalt.
      In 1907 Presbyterians started the Board of Social and Moral Reform, and that led to forming the Moral Social Reform Council of Canada. The Asiatic Exclusion League was begun to oppose the Chinese, and their march into Chinatown in Vancouver provoked a riot by attacking the Chinese and destroying their property. In February 1907 the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act prohibited strikes in industries until there was an investigation, and the Trades and Labour Council (TLC) annual congress at Winnipeg endorsed the Act 81-19. Also in 1907 the TLC in Winnipeg published a socialist paper and sponsored public meetings. Scottish trade unionist Keir Hardie expressed his pleasure

to meet again the men and women
who had fought for years in the old country
the battle of labour emancipation,
and who now in Canada joined in rejoicing
with the British labour party
in their partial success in Great Britain.12

      On 2 January 1908 the Royal Canadian Mint Act opened the mint in Ottawa. On March 7 the University of British Columbia was founded. The Railways, Telegraphs and Telephones Department provided help so that the Saskatchewan Telecommunications could begin operating on June 12, and Canada’s Bell Telephone Company started in 1909. On 23 September 1908 Alberta University opened. On October 26 Laurier’s Liberal Party won 133 seats with 49% of the votes while Robert Borden and the Conservatives with 46% added ten seats to give them 85.
      In 1909 Canada and the United States agreed on the Boundary Waters Treaty which arbitrated conflicts over the Great Lakes. They set up an International Joint Council with three Americans and three Canadians; the British were not included. In June the Federal Department of Labor was established with young William Lyon Mackenzie King as deputy minister, and Prime Minister Laurier noted, “At last labour has been advanced to the dignity of a class in itself, and quite as important in the economy of society as any other class.”13 King worked to resolve labor conflicts, and he mediated a cotton strike at Valleyfield, miners’ claims at Rosaland, coal miners striking in Fernie, and steel workers in Sydney. In 1910 he managed to end a major stoppage by the Grand Trunk Railway.
      Canadian farmers had various Grain Growers’ Associations, and in 1909 they formed the Canadian Council of Agriculture to demand tariff reform. Canada’s wheat production increased from 42 million bushels in 1890 to 231 million in 1911, and in that period hydroelectric power went from 72,000 horse-power to 977,000. Streetcars were moved by electricity instead of by horses. Electric appliances included stoves, vacuum cleaners, and refrigerators. In 1909 Laurier established the Commission of Conservation with Clifford Sifton as its chairman.
      On 12 January 1910 Prime Minister Laurier proposed a Naval Service Bill to found a naval college and a Canadian Navy with naval bases at Halifax and Esquimalt for five cruisers and six destroyers that could be commanded by the British in a war. A committee led by the Chief of General Staff, Brigadier-General W. D. Otter, was appointed to develop a plan for mobilization. The Hague tribunal ruled for Canada and against the American fisherman off Canada’s Atlantic coasts in 1910.
      Farmers sent delegates to Ottawa to demand better tariffs, and on 26 January 1911 Laurier informed the House of Commons that the United States President Taft had finally agreed to commercial reciprocity with free trade on natural products, and Americans would benefit from lower Canadian tariffs. This caused Clifford Sifton to lead some Liberals to side with the Conservatives in opposition. Canada acquired the cruiser, The Rainbow, and in 1911 it was used to crush a violent strike by street laborers in Prince Rupert which had been incorporated in 1910. Donald Mann and William Mackenzie collected various bonds and borrowed $218,215,409 from Canadian taxpayers for the Northern Railway of Canada. During the election campaign against resurgent Conservatives Laurier said,

   I am branded in Quebec as a traitor to the French,
and in Ontario as a traitor to the English.
In Quebec I am branded as a Jingo,
and in Ontario as a Separatist….
I am neither. I am a Christian….
I have had before me as a pillar of fire by night
and a pillar of cloud by day a policy of true Canadianism,
of moderation, of conciliation.14

Canada & Conservative Borden 1911-14

      Robert Laird Borden was born on 26 June 1854 in Nova Scotia. He studied French, German, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew at the Acadia Villa Seminary, and then he taught classics and mathematics in Matawan, New Jersey for one year before returning to Nova Scotia in 1874. Although those in his family were Liberals, Robert later became a Conservative. He worked as a law clerk in a Halifax firm for four years, and in August 1878 he scored above the rest passing the bar exam. He was still a Liberal and became the junior partner of a Conservative lawyer. In 1882 he joined the Conservative law firm led by the future Chief Justice Wallace Graham and Charles Tupper. In 1889 Graham became a judge and Tupper a cabinet minister, and Borden was made the senior partner. He married Laura Bond, and they became leaders in the Local Council of Women of Halifax.
      Borden became a prominent lawyer and represented major banks and companies. He consulted with the Liberal-Conservative Prime Minister John Thompson (1892-94), and Borden helped found the Canadian Bar Association at Montreal in 1896. That year Nova Scotia elected him to the House of Commons. In February 1901 Tupper helped Borden become the leader of the Conservative Party. His party lost federal elections to the Liberal Prime Minister Laurier in 1900, 1904, and 1908. That year Conservatives gained 25 seats in Ontario and 16 in Quebec. In 1910 Borden began advocating reciprocity and free trade, and in his 1911 campaign he revived Macdonald’s National Policy.
      In the federal election on 21 September 1911 the Conservative Coalition led by Robert Borden won 49% of the votes and 132 seats in the House of Commons to 46% and 85 seats for the Liberals who lost 48 seats. Borden became Prime Minister on October 10. He appointed Charles Joseph Doherty, an English Catholic from Quebec, as his Minister of Justice. Borden aimed to clean up the corruption in the government. He extended provisions in the Civil Service Act and appointed a Public Service Commission, and in the spring of 1912 the commissioners reported,

Owing to the great development of the country
exigencies have arisen from time to time,
and services have been created to meet these exigencies,
but no organized effort had been made to co-ordinate
these services with the various Departments
of the Public Service as a whole,
and assign to each the proper status and duties
in the general machinery of the administration.15

George Murphy had been Permanent Secretary to the British Treasury 1903-11, and Prime Minister Borden in September 1912 appointed him to investigate the public service. Murphy’s report in November recommended open and competitive examinations for service positions. Parliament passed only two minor amendments to the Civil Service Act while Borden managed to find more qualified people.
      The Canada Grain Act of 1912 created a board of commissioners to supervise and regulate inspection and the grain trade, and the federal government built more grain elevators. Also in 1912 the territories of the Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec provinces were expanded to the north. Borden’s closest advisor was the Minister of Finance Thomas White. The National Council of Women of Canada had been founded in October 1893, and in 1912 they decided to support women’s suffrage.
      Laurier became the leader of the opposition. His one hope was to keep the party together, and he said,

I make three petitions every day of my life.
O Lord, keep Thou the door of my lips
that I say nothing to hurt or harm anybody.
O Lord guard Thou mine actions
that I do nothing to hurt or harm anybody.
O God be merciful to me, a sinner.16

In the spring of 1912 Prime Minister Borden took over the job of the Secretary of State. General Otter’s committee using the principle of decentralization published Provisional War Establishments for the Canadian Militia. Frederick Monk was a Conservative French-Canadian from Montreal, and in October he resigned from Borden’s cabinet. Monk opposed the naval policy because he believed the new Prime Minister went against what he had promised in the campaign.
      Prime Minister Borden suspended the Naval Service Act and the construction of what was being called the “tin-pot navy.” He traveled to London and met with Home Secretary Winston Churchill who admitted he needed money for dreadnought battleships. When Borden returned to Canada, he persuaded the Commons in December to pass the naval contribution of $35 million to pay for the British Navy’s construction of three dreadnoughts. Bourassa called those voting with Borden “traitors,” and the contribution could not get through the Senate which stated, “This House is not justified in giving its assent to the Bill until it is submitted to the judgement of the country.”17
      The recession that began in 1912 caused much unemployment and many bankruptcies. In 1913 British investment was 75% of the foreign capital in Canada, and the United States invested 21%. The House of Commons rejected the Highways Bill and the Tariff Commission Bill. Finance Minister Thomas White suggested why they had not improved the tariffs explaining,

We have not tabulated any accurate information
on which we can rely; we do not know the facts
as we should know them in regard to the industries,
the business, the callings and the occupation of the people.
We have not the facts with regard to the cast
and conditions of production that we should have
before we can intelligently approach
the question of tariff consideration.18

      In the middle of 1913 speculative building in western Canada outpaced demand causing an economic downturn. The Great Boom that had started in 1900 was over. Borden was concerned about the health of the people in the country, and he said,

It is not alone a betterment of economic conditions
that we should aim at, but something finer—
the creation of a rural civilization which will at once
ensure a fuller and happier life to those in its midst, and
prove a source and fount of strength to the State itself.19

In 1913 the Militia had trained 57,000 men, and General Ian Hamilton praised rifle associations that had 48,000 members and 44,000 cadets in schools. In May 1914 about 200 immigrants marched in the streets of Winnipeg shouting “Work or bread.” The federal government provided funds to prevent bankruptcies by two railroad companies in 1914.
      Canada had 18,472 schools in 1901, 24,883 in 1911, and 31,814 in 1920 serving 1,062,527 students in 1901, 1,350,821 in 1911, and 1,804,680 in 1920.
      Stephen Leacock was influenced by the American economist Thorstein Veblen, and in 1914 Leacock published Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich describing the ambiguous reforms in prewar North America. Bob Edwards satirized corrupt politicians and businessmen in The Calgary Eyeopener. In early March the Presbyterian minister Charles Gordon spoke to the Social Service Congress in Ottawa. He hoped that the “New Christianity” would free people from “Big Business” that controlled Canadian politics. Ontario passed the Workmen’s Compensation Act in 1914. Protestant Churches developed the Social Gospel to support the reform movement. Methodists led this effort to apply the Social Gospel based on what was being learned by the scientific revolution. The Socialist and Methodist minister James Shaver Woodsworth published Strangers Within Our Gates in 1909 and My Neighbour in 1911. He would be one of the leaders arrested in the Winnipeg strike of 1919, and he led the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation. He wrote,

In country districts people are to a large extent on a level,
but in the cities we have the rich and poor,
the classes and the masses,
with all that these distinctions involve.20

Canada, Borden & the Great War 1914-18

      On 4 August 1914 Britain declared war against Germany for having invaded neutral Belgium, and both English and French Canadians supported going to war. Prime Minister Robert Borden summoned the Parliament to meet on August 18, and the federal government’s War Measures Act which passed on August 22 declared war and controlled German and Austro-Hungarian immigrants. Canada’s standing army had 3,110 men while there were 74,000 men in the militia. Within two months the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in battalions of a thousand men was organized with 30,000 volunteers for the First Canadian Infantry Division. The Minister of Militia Sam Hughes asked for 25,000 volunteers and got 31,000 men and 8,000 horses. The 32 steamers that left on October 3 transported 33,000 soldiers and 7,000 horses across the Atlantic Ocean in eleven days to Plymouth Hoe, England. After getting more training in rain and mud they joined the Allies in January 1915, and the CEF units were in France by February. In the next four years they would be increased to a total of 628,462 in the Canadian Corps that had four divisions, and 424,589 went overseas. The Royal Canadian Navy had more than 5,000 men, and the British Air Services had 24,095. In the Great War 60,661 Canadians lost their lives, and 149,732 were wounded including 6,347 officers. In 1914 J. S. Woodsworth wrote,

   Many are going to the front or are supporting the war
in the belief that in this way they may help to bring about
the triumph of right and the reign of peace….
More and more we must think not so much of the persons
engaged in the war as of the causes that led to the war—
the great social and moral wrongs
that inevitably lead to disaster.
These are our real foes
rather than the Germans and the Austrians,
and they are found not alone in the enemy’s camp.21

      The British Secretary of State for War Herbert Kitchener called for one million soldiers, and eventually five million were raised. The Minister of the Militia Sam Hughes had Ross rifles that often jammed, and he was removed for corruption, patronage, and profiteering on 11 November 1916. On May 28 the Canadian soldiers were put under the British Lt. General Julian Byng. Prime Minister Borden set up the Imperial Munitions Board, the War Purchasing Board, the National Service Board, and the Ministry for the Overseas Military Forces of Canada by October.
      The 1914 War Measures Act had suspended the gold standard, expanded the money supply, and it also stimulated the borrowing of money by selling Victory Bonds, War Savings Certificates, and even War Savings Stamps to children. Canada’s national debt went from $500 million in 1913 to $3.5 billion in 1921. The government nationalized the railways in 1917. About 40,000 government employees were put under the Civil Service Commission to avoid patronage. In 1916 the government imposed a war profits tax of 25% on profits greater than 7% of a corporation’s capital, and 10% of capital for other businesses with over $50,000. In 1917 the federal government initiated personal income taxes of 2% on annual incomes up to $6,000. Exempted were individuals earning under $1,500 and family incomes under $3,000. Incomes over $6,000 had progressive taxes going up to 25% of income over $100,000. The income tax would continue after the war.
      In April 1915 Canada’s First Division faced poisonous chlorine gas in the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium, and they suffered 6,000 casualties. On 1 January 1916 Prime Minister Borden promised that Canada would produce double the 250,000 soldiers already recruited. In an Allied offensive that began at the Somme on 1 July 1916 the British had 419,654 casualties, the French 204,253, and the Canadians 24,029.
      Only the Royal 22nd Battalion spoke French, and the rest used English. Ontario had made English in 1913 the language in public schools after the first two years of primary education, and Henri Bourassa criticized them for being like the Germans. In 1916 the Manitoba Education Act abolished French from its public school system. Bourassa opposed the war, and recruiting in Quebec communities provoked disturbance.
      In 1916-17 the National Research Council of Canada was founded to study the growth of industry. Prime Minister Borden went to England to confer with the Allied leaders in the spring of 1917. He participated in the Imperial War Conference in April, and they approved a resolution recognizing the Dominions and India as “autonomous nations.”
      On 30 January 1917 Prime Minister Borden rejected the British order to requisition Canadian ships, and the British did not accept Canada’s terms until 1929. Also in 1917 Ontario changed the name of the town Berlin to Kitchener.
      In February 1917 the British Prime Minister Lloyd George set up the Imperial War Cabinet and included dominion prime ministers or their deputies. In the first five months of 1917 Canada had 34,580 enlistments and 56,860 casualties. At Vimy Ridge on Easter Day April 9 a four-day battle began, and the Canadian Corps suffered 10,602 casualties including 3,598 killed.
      On May 17 Borden and his cabinet decided to impose military conscription. The United States and the United Kingdom (except for Ireland) had already adopted conscription. Canada also enfranchised all the men and women in the CEF. Prime Minister Borden asked the former PM Laurier to support this, and he declined. On May 29 the Liberal leader Laurier told Borden that he could not agree to conscription unless there was a referendum on it or an election. Canada conscripted 83,355 men, and 47,509 went overseas. A total of 35,000 French Canadians fought in the Great War. The Conscription Act on June 11 divided the Liberal Party and caused demonstrations and riots in Quebec. The Military Service Act approved on August 29 made service compulsory for most single British men between the ages of 20 and 45 with exceptions for vital industries, conscientious objectors, and those suffering from “ill health or infirmity.”
      The Wartime Elections Act extended voting to women related to soldiers. People from enemy nations naturalized after 1902 lost their right to vote and could not be drafted. About 100,000 “enemy aliens” were required to register with the police, and 8,579 including 3,000 citizens who were not employed became prisoners of war in 26 camps spread around the country starting with northern Ontario. Such aliens were discriminated against and lost positions. Mobs attacked businesses owned by Germans and Austro-Hungarians.
      On June 23 the Canadian Lt. General Arthur Currie became the commander of the Canadian Corps. In October the Prime Minister Borden reorganized his cabinet so that it had an equal number of Conservatives and Liberals. Laurier declined a position and led a campaign against conscription. Those in Quebec and farmers suggested conscripting wealth with higher taxes on businesses in the booming economy. Pacifists included Quakers, Mennonites, and the Canadian Women’s Peace Party.
      In October and November the Canadian Corps broke through German lines at Passchendaele, where the Fifth British Army had lost 68,000 men. The Canadians achieved a costly victory as they suffered 15,654 casualties. German submarines called “U-boats” were sinking merchant ships which were transporting war materials. The Canadian Navy had 10,000 men on anti-submarine ships on the east coast. Canada’s fishing fleets lost over 30 trawlers.
      On 6 December 1917 the French munitions ship Mont Blanc collided with the Belgian ship Imo in Halifax harbor that set off the largest explosion in history up to that time killing 1,600 people and injuring 9,000. The extensive damage destroyed the homes of 20,000 people. In December the Canadian General Staff was meeting in London.
      In the election on December 17 Borden’s Union Party received 57% of the votes for 153 seats to 39% and 82 seats for Laurier and the Liberals. Quebec had 65 seats, and 62 of them were Liberals.
      By 1917 the Imperial Munitions Board had 150,000 people working in 600 factories producing war supplies costing $2 million per day. Women were paid less than men and were fired at the end of the war. The British-owned Vickers Company employed 15,000 people in the Montreal shipyards, and Davie Shipbuilding turned out anti-submarine ships and steel barges near Quebec City. Canada’s steel mills doubled production to make shells for artillery. Factories and farms provided more clothing, shoes, and food to send to soldiers. The Board of Grain Supervisors controlled Canadian wheat sales, and in 1917 a Wheat Board was formed to buy the annual crop at a fixed price. The Canada Food Board regulated the cost and distribution of food, and they bought 1,000 tractors from the Ford Motor Company and distributed them at cost to farmers. The Fuel Controller set the price and use of coal, wood, and gas. The Red Cross had 1,200 branches serving in the Army Medical Corps. Women’s Institutes, the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, and many other groups raised money and sent parcels and socks to men overseas.
      Canada’s railways were struggling with poor management, greed, and rising costs. An investigating commission advised putting all major railways except the Canadian Pacific under pubic ownership. In 1917 Finance Minister Thomas White explained to the House of Commons,

   It seems to me that the continuance
from year to year of the large financial assistance
which we have been granting to these companies
is against public opinion and public policy while
the ownership of these roads remains in private hands.
The true policy would seem to be that
which will ensure not only the best public service
but a substantial degree of public ownership in order that
the benefit of the large financial assistance granted
from the public exchequer during the critical period
of the development of these roads
shall accrue to the benefit of the public
when the enterprises reach a period of fruition.
If the public does the financing,
the public should enjoy the ultimate reward.22

A Royal Commission studied two railways, and the government followed its recommendation to take over the Canadian Northern Railway in September 1918.
      In March 1918 at Quebec City those opposing conscription attacked the Military Service Registry and some businesses. The federal government sent troops, and during the riot they killed four people and wounded many. In 1918 the War Labour Policy prohibited strikes and lockouts because replacements for striking workers were hard to find. Unions and labor parties increased. In the spring German assaults put the Allies on the defensive. The Allies pushed through the fortified Hindenburg Line, and on August 8 they began five days of fighting at Amiens in which 44,000 British-French Allies suffered about 44,000 casualties. The German Empire had 25,000 casualties before 50,000 surrendered and became prisoners. Finally at the Belgian border at Mons both sides agreed to an Armistice on November 11. On that day Prime Minister Borden in his diary wrote,

The world has drifted from its old anchorage,
and no man can with certainty prophesy
what the outcome will be.
I have said that
another such war would destroy our civilization.
It is a grave question whether this war
may not have destroyed much
that we regard as necessarily incidental thereto.23

This war, which killed more people than any previous war (except for three much longer Chinese wars), was called the “Great War,” and only after its continuation as “World War II” would it be renamed “World War I.”
      Thousands of Canadian soldiers became pilots in the Royal Flying Corps or the Royal Naval Air Service, and Billy Bishop shot down 72 German fighters. In 1917 and 1918 Canadians built training aircraft and provided a place for training. Canada’s aircraft would have the largest tonnages in the world until 1939. The Canadian navy had the old cruisers Rainbow and Niobe converted into depot ships at Esquimalt and Halifax, and they supplied ships for the Atlantic Coastal Patrol. About a third of the total Canadian soldiers never made it overseas. Canadian casualties in the Great War were about 61,000 killed or missing and about 200,000 wounded.
      Canadian agriculture supplied the desperate need for food by European allies, and the prairie wheat-land nearly doubled its cultivation. Canada also exported lumber and wood pulp as well as minerals for munitions. From 1914 to 1919 Canada’s exports multiplied by four. Canada’s cost of living increased by 50% from 1915 to 1918, and the government imposed rationing and regulations by two commissions and two boards. The Canada Wheat Board would continue after the war. The federal government took over the major Canadian railways, and that became the Canadian National Railway system in 1920.
      In October 1917 Clifford Sifton joined Borden in a Union government, and the Conservative Arthur Meighen helped pass the Military Voters Act and the War Times Election Act that extended voting to all men and women in the armed forces and their relatives while denying it to all conscientious objectors. In the campaign Borden promised to exempt the sons of farmers, but after the election he broke that promise. In federal elections on December 17 Borden received 57% of the votes, and the Unionists had 153 seats. Laurier got 39%, and the Liberals were reduced to 82 seats.
      During the war the government sold “victory bonds” to raise $2 billion, and New York replaced London as Canada’s market for securities. About 2,000 women served as nurses at the battles, and 56 died. Women also volunteered to help the Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire, the Red Cross, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), and the Canadian Patriotic Fund. Employers hired many women because they could pay them only half of what men got. After the war the voting rights of women would be extended. For the war effort the Canadian Patriotic Fund gave allowances to dependents of servicemen, and rich persons and voluntary funds contributed for military expenses, hospitals, and the Red Cross. The value of these was about $100 million. Women gained the vote in every province from 1917 and by 1922 except for Quebec which waited until 1940. Inflation was 18% in 1917 and 13.5% in 1918. From August 1914 through November 1918 Canada spent $1,068,606,527 on the war, and that increased the national debt by $971,429,661. The Department of Labor’s family budget index based on 100 for 1913 was 98.7 in 1915 and increased to 147 in 1918 and 185 in 1920.
      In March 1918 Borden reneged on the exemption from conscription for farmers that he had promised in December. Canada established the Dominion Bureau of Statistics in 1918. The Union Party passed Prohibition, and the ban on alcohol became effective on 1 April 1918. Canada had two transcontinental railway lines by 1915 that increased the national system by 22,000 miles, making Canada the nation with the highest per capita railway mileage. During the 1914-18 Great War less immigration to Canada slowed down the national expansion, and the industrial economy fell into a deep depression. In 1916 a royal commission was appointed to investigate railway issues. In the next seven years the Canadian Northern, the Grand Trunk Pacific, and the Grand Trunk were amalgamated, and the National Transcontinental and the Intercolonial in 1919 were incorporated as the Canadian National Railway that was owned by the government and competed with the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).
      Newfoundland enthusiastically contributed $13 million for the war and increased their debt to $10 million. During the war Canada loaned $150 million abroad. In 1915 the state got its first loan from New York, and by 1919 Canada had borrowed $2 billion. Canada began collecting income tax in 1917. The wholesale price index rose from 100 in 1913 to 209 in 1919, and the cost of living index went up from 100 to 164. Acreage of field crops grew from 35 million in 1913 to 53 million in 1919. Meat exports multiplied from $6 million to $85 million, and livestock exports went from $10 million to $35 million. Canada’s production of copper, lead, zinc, and nickel increased from $29 million to $74 million. Canada produced 436,000 tons of newsprint per year in 1913-14, and 690,000 tons in 1919. Exported newsprint went from $20 million in 1913 to $105 million in 1920.
      In 1918 at the Imperial War Cabinet the prime ministers Robert Borden, General Jan Christian Smuts of South Africa, and William Morris Hughes of Australia arranged it so that their national delegations would be represented at the Peace Conference. Progressive farmers in the Canadian Council of Agriculture presented a New National Policy demanding reduced tariffs, higher taxes on profits and high incomes, public ownership of utilities, democratic reforms, and replacing the Senate with initiatives and referenda, old-age pensions, and allowances for mothers. The Manitoba Pensions Act had been approved in 1916. In 1918 the Methodist Church accepted a report from J. S. Woodsworth and the Social Gospel movement that begins,

   The present economic system stands revealed
as one of the roots of the war.
The insane pride of Germany, her passion
for world-domination found an occasion in the demand
for colonies as markets and sources of raw materials—
the imperative need of competing groups of industries
carried on for profits.
   The war has made more clearly manifest the moral perils
inherent in the system of production for profits.
Condemnation of special individuals
seems often unjust and always futile.
The system rather than the individual calls for change….
   Under the shock and strain of this tremendous struggle,
accepted commercial and industrial methods
based on individualism and competition
have gone down like mud walls in a flood.
National organization, national control,
extraordinary approximations of national equality
have been found essential to efficiency….
We do not believe this separation
of labour and capital can be permanent.
Its transcendence,
whether through cooperation or public ownership,
seems to be the only constructive and radical reform.
   This is the policy set forth
by the great labour organizations
and must not be rejected because it presupposes,
as Jesus did, that the normal human spirit
will respond more readily to the call to service
than to the lure of private gain.24

Canada & Conservative Borden 1919-20

      The influenza epidemic called the “Spanish Flu” by the Spanish press probably began in the trenches in Europe and spread as soldiers returned home. In 1918-19 it killed some 50,000 people in Canada and about 50 million in the world. In 1919 Canada established the Department of Health, and in 1920 Canada still had 6,500 men in hospitals. Canada’s Navy had only three warships and two submarines. In 1923 the militia, navy, and air force were combined into the Department of Defense. The militia had most of the budget, and Canada had no standing army. The War Measures Act of 1918 had enacted Prohibition, and the provinces except Quebec and British Columbia maintained the policy.
      Prime Minister Robert Borden had sent 4,192 soldiers to Siberia in October 1918 to support the intervention by the British, Americans, and Japanese against the Bolshevist revolution in Russia, and the Canadians returned in the spring of 1919. On March 16 the Western Labour Conference began at Calgary, and unionists left the Trades and Labor Congress (TLC) to join the One Big Union (OBU) that the International Workers of the World (IWW) had organized in Canada. On May 15 the Trades and Labor Council endorsed a general strike to support Winnipeg’s metal workers. In 1917 Canada had 205,000 union members, and in 1919 this increased to 370,000. On July 7 Canada’s Criminal Code was amended with Section 98 to outlaw any organization that intended to cause “governmental, industrial or economic change” by using force. One could be charged for attending a meeting, promoting principles, or distributing propaganda, and it was used to arrest leaders and charge them with sedition.
      William Lyon Mackenzie King was born on 17 December 1874 in Berlin, Ontario. His grandfather William Lyon Mackenzie had been mayor of Toronto and led the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837. His father John King was a lawyer. Mackenzie King led a student strike at the university in 1895, and he earned three degrees from the University of Toronto by 1897. He was concerned about social issues and was influenced by the Toynbee Hall settlement house. He became a journalist and attended the University of Chicago and worked with Jane Addams at Hull House. He went on to Harvard and earned an M.A. in political economy and a Ph.D. in 1909 with the dissertation “Publicity and Public Opinion as Factors in the Solution of Industrial Problems in Canada.” In 1907 he had investigated the anti-Oriental riots and opium use in Vancouver.
      In 1908 Mackenzie King was elected to Parliament as a Liberal, and in 1909 Prime Minister Laurier made King the Minister of Labor. He worked on passing the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act and the Combines Investigation Act. The House of Commons approved his bill for an 8-hour day on public works, but it died in the Senate. Conservatives defeated Laurier, King, and the Liberals in the 1911 election. King gave lectures, and he worked as the Director of Industrial Research for the Rockefeller Foundation in New York City from 1914 to 1918 when he published Industry and Humanity: A Study of the Principles Underlying Industrial Reconstruction. He attacked the structure of capitalism and criticized some fundamental policies of liberals. After the death of the former Liberal Prime Minister Laurier on 17 February 1919 the Liberal Party held its first leadership convention, and they elected W. L. Mackenzie King on the fourth ballot.
      Labor organizers met at Calgary in March 1919 and formed One Big Union which had sprung from the radical International Workers of the World (IWW). On May 14 the metalworkers and builders went on strike in Winnipeg, and they were supported in a general strike by other unions such as police, firemen, and telephone operators. Minister of Justice Arthur Meighen ordered the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) to arrest the strike leaders, and they captured seven on June 17. Four days later during a protest the local police killed two men and wounded 30 others.
      In the past five years the cost of living had doubled, and reduced demand caused a recession. Prime Minister Borden was able to get the Dominions the right to sign the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, and Canada got a seat in the League of Nations and in the International Labor Organization (ILO). Yet many Canadians opposed Article 10 of the League of Nations Covenant which required members to aid other nations that are invaded. The Adolescent Attendance Act of 1919 made schooling compulsory up to the age of 16, and the Technical Education Act appropriated $10 million for technical education over ten years. The Liberal Party was reunited at its conference at Ottawa in August, and they again chose as their leader Mackenzie King.
      The suffragist Nellie McClung helped women get the right to vote in four provinces in 1916, and later she wrote,

The fall of 1914 blurs in my memory like a troubled dream.
The war dominated everything.
Some of my friends were pacifists and resented Canada’s
participation in the war of which we knew so little.25

McClung was elected to the Alberta legislature in 1921. She became a representative to the League of Nations, and she was one of the five women in the Persons case of 1929 which finally recognized that women are “legal persons.”
      Henry Wise Wood advocated agrarian reform, and he was president of the United Farmers of Alberta 1916-31 and helped organize their political party in 1921. E. A. Partridge founded the Grain Growers’ Grain Company in 1906, and he published the Grain Growers’ Guide 1908-36 and wrote,

   The history of Canada since Confederation—
the outcome of a politico-commercial,
or a commercio-political conspiracy,
if consequences are any indication of motive—
has been a history of heartless robbery of both the people
of the Maritimes and of the Prairie Sections of Canada
by the Big “Vested” Interests—
so called from the size of their owners’ vests—
of the politically and financially stronger Central Provinces.26

      At the Paris Peace Conference on 6 May 1919 Prime Minister Borden persuaded the British Prime Minister Lloyd George, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, and French Prime Minister Clemenceau that representatives of self-governing Dominions of the British Empire could become members of the League of Nations Council, and Canada would do so in 1927. Canada’s delegation opposed Article 10 that required all members to protect other members from aggression, and US President Wilson’s political enemies would use that to reject the League. Borden opposed it, but President Wilson considered it “the heart of the Covenant.” The Canadian journalist J. W. Dafoe in 1938 wrote,

   The comfortable idea took possession of the Canadian
mind that the war era was over and that permanent peace
was guaranteed by the League of Nations, an institution
for which they had a vague detached regard resting upon
a mysterious belief that it had occult means for keeping
the peace without any obligation resting upon its member
nations to see that it had either the power or the will
to enforce any such programme on a turbulent world.27

      Prime Minister Borden had appointed Thomas Crerar his Minister of Agriculture in October 1917. Crerar wanted free trade with the United States, and because of the high tariffs he resigned on 6 June 1919 during the Winnipeg General Strike. The United Farmers of Ontario had been founded in 1914. In the 1919 provincial election they won 43 seats, and with 12 Labor seats they had a 55-54 advantage over 28 Liberals and 26 Conservatives. On 1 January 1920 Crerar and ten members in Parliament formed a caucus and founded the National Progressive Party. The National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC) adopted the Canadian Women’s Platform that called for equal pay for equal work, a female minimum wage, and political equality. Also in 1920 the Wheat Board was abolished, and agriculture prices collapsed. Farmers rebelled against the old parties.
      Canada’s Prime Minister Robert Borden retired on 10 July 1920, and by his choice Arthur Meighen succeeded him. The war had increased Canada’s debt from $750 million in 1914 to $3,018 million in 1921. In the Marfleet lectures at the University of Toronto in October 1921 Borden advised,

   If the self-governing Dominions may not have
adequate voice and influence
in the direction of the Empire’s foreign policy,
it is not improbable that some of them will eventually
have distinctive foreign policies of their own;
and that may mean separation.28

Canada & Liberal Mackenzie King 1921-30

      In 1921 Ontario extended compulsory schooling to the age of 16, and the Canadian Authors’ Association was founded. The 1921 census found that the rural population was 4,436,041, and the urban was 4,352,442. Agricultural production was $1,403,686,000, and manufacturing was $2,747,926,675. By 1921 Canada was providing 188,263 pensions for soldiers with disabilities and for soldiers’ dependents. The Canadian Authors’ Association was founded by John Murray Gibbon, Bernard Keble Sandwell, Stephen Leacock, and Pelham Edgar.
      In the elections on 6 December 1921 women 21 or older could vote for the first time in Canada, and the only woman elected was the Progressive teacher Agnes Macphail from rural Ontario. Mackenzie King and the Liberals received 41% of the votes and 118 seats while the Progressives led by Thomas Crerar got 21% and 58 seats to the Meighen and the Conservatives’ 30% and 49 seats. Six other parties had 8% and 10 seats. J. S. Woodsworth of the Manitoba Independent Labour Party was elected by Winnipeg, and in the new Canadian Forum he wrote,

   Never in Canada have the devotees of law and order
received a ruder shock….
The lesson is obvious, yet it should be stated.
Any government which attempts to throttle free men
in Canada or elsewhere will fall of its own weight
and be fortunate if it does not bring crashing in ruins
the structure which with clumsy hands it seeks to buttress.29

The Progressives did not want their leaders to be in the cabinet nor would they join the Conservatives in opposition. In 1921 Confédération des travailleurs catholiques du Canada (CTCC) was reorganized with 17,600 members.
      Mackenzie King became Prime Minister on 29 December 1921, and he chose Liberals for his cabinet. Conservatives led by Meighen became the Opposition. King lowered the tariffs on farm equipment and supported the prairie desire for a rail link to the Churchill port, and he restored favorable freight rates on grain.
      Robert Borden attended the Washington Conference on Naval Disarmament in 1921-22. On 15 September 1922 British Prime Minister Lloyd George sent a coded cable asking for the Canadian military to help the British stop the Turkish advance to take over the Dardanelles Straits at Chanak. Prime Minister Mackenzie King replied that Canada would not consider sending troops to the Turkish War without consulting Parliament, and he declined to summon them.
      On 24 February 1922 the Canada Census reported that the nation had 8,888,483 people on 1 June 1921 and that the 22% increase in the previous ten years was 1,581,840 people. Prime Minister Mackenzie King appointed 73-year-old William Stevens Fielding as the Finance Minister, and he reduced the federal budget from $605 million to $466 million with only minor tariff reductions. T. A Crerar had been Progressive Party leader, and he resigned in November 1922 and was replaced by Robert Forke as chairman instead of leader.
      Mackenzie King opposed war and did not like the military. He preferred to use compromises to resolve international conflicts. Like Laurier and Meighen, he acted as the Minister of External Affairs. Prime Minister King attended the Imperial Conference in October and November 1923, and he was accompanied by the Justice Minister Lomer Gouin, who had been Premier of Quebec 1905-20, and the National Defence Minister George P. Graham, who had been a member of Parliament 1907-17 and since 1921. King persuaded the Conference to accept the conclusion that all the views in the Empire are “necessarily subject to the action of the Governments and Parliaments of the various portions of the Empire.”30
      The federal government restricted immigration and provided relief for the unemployed in urban areas. Farmers organized the Progressive Party for the elections in 1921 and 1922, but the United Farmers of Ontario lost power in 1923. Foreign investment in Canada had been $1,232 million in 1900, and by 1922 it had increased to $5,207 million. That year American investment provided 50% of the foreign capital and the British 47%. Thousands of soldiers came home from the war and were looking for jobs, making the labor market very competitive. Unions organized, and in western provinces many joined the radical One Big Union (OBU).
      In August 1922 about 22,000 coal miners were on strike in Canada. In July 1923 the Besco steel company refused to negotiate with the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel and Tin Workers. Strikers blockaded their Sydney plant until the police chased them into the streets. Soldiers arrived on trains, and to make them withdraw coal miners walked out of the pits. The leaders MacLachlan and Dan Livingston were arrested for sedition and sent to Halifax where they were sentenced to two years in prison. The United Mine Workers international president John L. Lewis ended the illegal walkout. In March 1927 Canadian mine workers joined the leftist All-Canadian Congress of Labour (ACCL).
      Prosperity returned as immigration resumed, though federal legislation excluded Chinese nationals in 1923. That year Ernest Lapointe signed the Halibut Fisheries Treaty with the United States on behalf of Canada without including the British. F. G. Banting and J. J. Macleod won the Nobel Prize for discovering insulin as a treatment for diabetes.
      Most of Canada’s immigrants in the 1920s settled in cities and towns and worked in industries. Canada’s delegate to the League of Nations, Senator Raoul Dandurand, supported the first Geneva Protocol of 1923 to use arbitration instead of war, but he opposed the Second Protocol of 1924 because Canada was not willing to go to war for the sake of “collective security.” Canada thus rejected the Draft Treaty of Mutual Assistance and the Geneva Protocol of 1924, and they refused to be a party to the Locarno Pact of 1925 which normalized relations with Germany and did not fix Germany’s eastern border with Poland. In 1925 Dandurand was elected president of the Assembly, and he was the first Canadian to be elected to the League Council for a three-year term in 1927.
      In 1924 the Progressive leader Robert Forke agreed to support the government’s budget of the Liberal Prime Minister Mackenzie King. The socialists who were Progressive or Labor members of Parliament supported J. S. Woodsworth who led the Independent Labour members. He offered a stronger amendment, and they were called the “Ginger Group” and included the more radical farmers.
      On 20 January 1925 the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Toronto Electric Commissioners v Snider ruled that the Industrial Disputes Investigation Act was not valid and that criminal law does not make striking a crime. In June the American National Conference of Social Work held their convention in Toronto, and the scientific social workers founded the National Conference of Social Workers, and the 1928 conference had 710 delegates.
      Prime Minister King in 1925 promised to reduce taxes again and lower tariff rates, and his moderate policies included increasing immigration. In the federal elections on October 29 the Conservatives gained a plurality with 116 seats to 100 Liberals and 22 Progressives. Conservatives also won 68 of 82 seats in Ontario. The Liberals’ leader Mackenzie King chose Ernest Lapointe from Quebec City to be the Minister of Justice. Prime Minister King kept Progressives on his side for six months until the failure to return natural resources to the Prairie Provinces lost them. Then Governor-General Julian Byng asked Conservative Arthur Meighen to form a government, and King without Progressives lost a no-confidence vote on 28 June 1926.
      In the elections on September 14 Mackenzie King had 116 seats, and three parties of Progressive farmers got 30. Together they defeated the 91 Conservatives led by Meighen who was Prime Minister for 89 days. During that time Richard Bennett was Finance Minister and helpful in other ways.
      Mackenzie King became Prime Minister on September 25, and his mediation between the centralists and decentralists persuaded the Imperial Conference in November 1926 to use the words “autonomous Communities” instead of “independent” and to use “equal in status” in its Report. On November 19 at the Imperial Conference the Balfour Declaration affirmed that the Dominions are “autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status.” The British could no longer overrule Canadian laws, and Dominions could alter British laws within their borders. The Report of Inter-Imperial Relations Committee stated,

   On the question raised with regard to
the legislative competence of members of the
British Commonwealth of Nations other than Great Britain,
and in particular to the desirability of those members
being enabled to legislate with extraterritorial effect,
we think that it should similarly be placed on record that
the constitutional practice is that
legislation by the Parliament at Westminster
applying to a Dominion would only be passed
with the consent of the Dominion concerned.31

      In 1927 the Conservative Party met at Winnipeg and chose the lawyer Richard Bedford Bennett to succeed Meighen. Bennett resigned his company directorships to work for the Conservatives. The Welland Ship Canal was completed, and the Privy Council decided that Newfoundland should have about 112,000 square miles that had been part of Quebec. Canada’s Old Age Pension Act of 1927 provided $240 a year, and any income over $365 a year was subtracted from the pension. Wheat exports continued, and Canada was exporting more wheat than any other nation by 1928. That year Canadian manufacturing was valued at $1,819,046,025, and 166,783 immigrants came to Canada. Argentina, Australia, and the Soviet Union were becoming competitive in wheat, and the world market was declining. Canada’s timber produced paper and pulp, and by 1929 Canada was exporting the most newsprint. American capital supported Canadian mining and industries.
      On 27 August 1928 the United States Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and France’s Foreign Minister Aristide Briand signed the General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy. Mackenzie King signed the document for Canada. The Pact was also signed by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Irish Free State, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, and the United States, and it created the concept of crimes against peace that would be adopted by the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. On September 8 Mackenzie King delivered his League Council Address in Geneva on the “Position of Canada” which The Mail reported as special as follows:

   In his speech before the League Assembly today
Mr. W. L. Mackenzie King (Prime Minister of Canada)
made no reference to the British Empire.
   He spoke as if the Empire did not exist.
   Mr. Mackenzie King said that it was impossible
to exaggerate the importance to the Kellogg Pact.
   The undefended Canadian-American frontier,
he said, had proved the possibility of renouncing war.
It had been the greatest contribution toward the prosperity
of both nations by eliminating fear of aggression
and safeguarding progress.
   Canadian experience with the United States
showed the value of international investigation of disputes.
   When Mr. Mackenzie King eulogized the Kellogg Pact
as likely to prove an historic and enduring contribution
to the development of international confidence
it may be taken that he brought before the league ideas
which he must have heard from the lips of Mr. F. B. Kellogg
(United States Secretary of State)
during the Atlantic crossing.
   Thus Canada has acted not the first
nor will it be the last time as the connecting link
between the United States and the league.
   It was noticeable throughout the portion of his speech
in which he showed how Canada had been enabled
to devote to peaceful progress what might otherwise
have been expended in armaments,
that Mr. Mackenzie King spoke as if the Empire did not exist.
   He did not mention that although Canada found it possible
to remain unarmed the United States certainly did not.
   His eloquent passage relating to the 3,000 miles
of undefended frontier is not a new theme,
but it was a fine peroration
and suited the taste of the assembly.
Several minutes elapsed while the delegates
left their places to shake his hand.32

      By 1929 Canada had 1.2 million automobiles mostly from Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors in America. One could buy a Model T Ford for under $400. Canada had 75,000 miles of roads with 10,000 miles paved in asphalt. American tourists were spending over $300 million in Canada. Aviation picked up. In the 1920s telephones, radios, and American films became popular. Expenditures by the provinces increased from $91 million in 1921 to $188 million in 1930.
      Municipalities in the 1920s had their revenues increase by 38% while provinces’ incomes rose 105%. From 1927 to 1929 Canada sent legations to Washington, Paris, and Tokyo. On the Black Friday of 25 October 1929 the New York Stock Exchange crashed, and the panic quickly affected Toronto and Montreal. Prime Minister King reminded mayors and local politicians that relief for the unemployed was primarily a municipal and a provincial responsibility. Historian F. J. Underhill said, “Mr. King for twenty-five years was the leader who divided us least.”33

Canada in Depression & Bennet 1930-32

      The “great bull market” of the New York Stock Exchange continued into August 1929 and began to slide down in September. International Nickel, Noranda Mines, Canada Power and Paper, and the Ford Motor Company were among those leading the collapse that came in October. The Great Crash began on Black Thursday the 24th and reached a climax on Black Tuesday the 29th when trading 16 million shares in New York lost billions of dollars and wiped out thousands of investors. More than 850,000 shares were dumped on the exchanges of Montreal and Toronto. The Toronto Star reported that the index of 16 Canadian stocks for five hours went down $1 million per minute losing $300 million. This unprecedented financial loss separated the “roaring twenties” from the “dirty thirties” as the Canadian economy was devastated for a decade. In 1920 John Maynard Keynes in The Economic Consequences of the Peace warned that four years of war had cost Great Britain so much that it could no longer be the world’s creditor, and America could not do that either. They tightened credit to reduce speculation in 1929-30 .
      Canada was especially vulnerable because 80% of what their farms, forests, and mines produced was exported. The federal government’s revenues declined from $462 million in 1928 to $325 million in 1933. From 1929 to 1932 the gross national product of Canada fell by 40%, and by 1933 the national income had declined by nearly 50%. In 1928 farmers had sold a bushel of wheat for $1.03, and the price fell to 47 cents in 1930 and to 29 cents in 1932. Spain, Portugal, and Italy could buy meat and eggs so cheap that they greatly reduced their imports of dried cod and fresh fish from Canadian fisheries. The price of fresh fish was cut in half, and dried fish went down 70%. The value of Canada’s newsprint production fell from $150 million in 1929 to $86 million in 1932, and base metal products declined from $98 million in 1929 to $32 million in 1932. Farmers had bought 17,000 tractors in 1929, and they purchased only 892 in 1932.
      The first election of the Depression was contested by Conservative Richard Bedford Bennett in the heat of June and July 1930. On June 1 the Department of Labour reported that 391,000 Canadians were unemployed. Bennett said that he was promising jobs, not relief, because “the right to work is the right of every man and woman in Canada.” On June 9 he told free-trade prairie farmers at Winnipeg,

You say our tariffs are only for the manufacturers.
I will make them fight for you as well.
I will use them to blast a way into the markets
that have been closed to you.34

Prime Minister Mackenzie King in a debate during the campaign said he would not give five cents to any province with a Conservative government. His adversary used that against him. Bennett travelled 14,000 miles in 58 days of campaigning in every province giving 107 major speeches. Bennett won the election on July 28 with 48% of the votes and 137 seats to 44% and 88 seats for King, and there were 7 independents. In Quebec the Conservatives gained 24 seats as they increased their popular vote from 34% to 45%. King was accused of having accepted a contribution of $700,000 for his campaign from the Beauharnois Power Company. While on vacation in Bermuda the Senator W. L. McDougald paid King’s hotel bill of $283.
      Richard Bedford Bennett was born on 3 July 1870 in New Brunswick, Canada. He was well educated, went to a normal school, and became a teacher. He enrolled in Dalhousie University in 1890 and earned a law degree in 1893. He practiced law and moved to Alberta in 1897. In November 1898 Bennett was elected to the Assembly of the Northwest Territories from West Calgary. When Alberta became a province in 1905, he was elected the leader of Alberta’s Conservative Party. In 1908 he helped establish the Calgary Public Library. In 1910 he became a director at Calgary Power Ltd. and its president the next year.
      Bennett was a member of Parliament for Calgary 1911-17. He supported conscription in 1917 and did not run for re-election. He served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Prime Minister Meighen for 85 days in the fall of 1921. In December he lost an election in a district of Calgary West by 16 votes. In the 1925 elections Bennett won as the Conservatives gained the most seats in Parliament; but they did not have a majority. He served Meighen as Finance Minister for 74 days in the summer of 1926. In October 1927 Bennett was elected the leader of the opposition Conservative Party. He had invested in Canada Cement, Calgary Power, and the Alberta Pacific Grain Company greatly increasing his wealth. In the next five years Bennett donated $500,000 to his party.
      After his election in July 1930 Prime Minister Bennett appointed himself Minister of External Affairs, and he served as Finance Minister until 1932. Bennett formed his cabinet on August 7, and he worked long days up to as much as 16 hours. He did not work on Sundays, though he used the telephone. He often spoke in the House of Commons several times in a day. Bennett supported high tariffs that helped Canadian products. His Unemployment Relief Act provided $20 million for public works through federal and local governments. Industry manufacturing was protected as were fruits and vegetables. Bennett promised that industries would get 25,000 new jobs. Labor leader J. S. Woodsworth pleaded with Bennett not to neglect the men and women who were suffering, and he described how in Winnipeg men looking for work lined up four deep around the corner of the block.
      Bennett attended the Imperial Conference in London in October and November, and he argued for imperial preference free trade without success. During Canadian Prosperity Week he sent a “talkie” film of him expressing confidence that the economy would recover. He hoped that hard times would be over before the Relief Act would expire on 31 March 1931. In that month Canada’s jobless number surpassed 400,000. The Relief Act money had been divided based on population instead of need. How much individuals received ranged from $54 to $429, and most of the money did not get to those most in need. Food vouchers were used to keep cash away from the “undeserving,” and they had to cut wood as a “work-test” to get the vouchers.
      Parliament reconvened on 31 March 1931, and Bennett’s speech did not mention unemployment. Finance Minister Bennet’s first budget raised the federal sales tax from 1 percent to 4 percent while reducing personal income tax deductions. The tax rate on higher incomes was also lowered, and dividends on Canadian stocks became non-taxable. Corporate income taxes did go up from 8 percent to 10 percent. Tariff rates were also raised, and the Canadian Forum called it “not only a Canada-First Budget but a Capitalist-First Budget” with “presents to the wealthy [and] greater burdens on the poor.”35 The 1931 farmers did not have to fulfill their contracts as the minimum price system was abandoned.
      The 1931 census found that 53.7% of Canadians lived in incorporated cities, towns, and villages compared to 19.6% in 1871. On December 11 the Parliament of the United Kingdom approved the Statute of Westminster which extended the sovereignty of the self-governing Dominions to include independence on domestic and foreign policy.
      A drought in spring 1930 caused some areas to have no crops in 1931. Southern Saskatchewan became a barren desert, and thousands of seasonal workers rode the rails looking for work. Railways Minister Manion warned, “We may hesitate too long and have serious riots verging on revolution as hungry men can hardly be blamed for refusing to starve quietly.”36 The Unemployment and Farm Relief Act was approved on 3 August 1931. Both of the Relief acts were renewed each year until Bennett’s term ended in 1935.
      In the second half of August 1931 Bennett traveled to the West and promised prosperity. On September 21 Britain separated its currency from gold, and 25 other nations went off the gold standard. Bennett restricted gold exports but continued payments in gold that had been promised. Unemployment went over 500,000 in December. The four western provinces needed the most relief, and federal relief was to end on 1 March 1932.
      Parliament renewed the act until May and approved the first budget of the new Finance Minister E. N. Rhodes that dealt with a $100-million deficit by raising taxes including the sales tax from 4% to 6% and adding an excise duty on top of the tariff. Personal income tax exemptions were cut back to get more money from higher incomes. The corporate tax went up to 11%.
      The United Farmers of Alberta MP Robert Gardiner charged that the new economy was ruled by banking and financial institutions. Keynes wrote in the May issue of the Atlantic Monthly that the economy must have increasing public investment or some other kind of expenditure, or else they would have “to wait for a war to terminate a major depression.”37 The Third Relief Act in April would have no spending for public works.
      Bennett reduced military spending from $23,732,000 in fiscal 1930-31 to $14,145,000 in 1932-33. The British Empire Economic Conference was held in Ottawa, Canada in July and August 1932. They admitted that the gold standard had failed, and they established limited tariffs within the British Empire with high tariffs for all other nations. Also in 1932 the government began the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission to establish a publicly-owned national radio network and regulate radio broadcasting in the name of “national unity.”
      During the recession in 1920-22 the Scottish mining engineer Major C. H. Douglas had developed the theory that workers have “permanent deficiency in purchasing power” and that a government could use Social Credit to change the financial system and establish a “just price” for all goods. William Irvine in Canada suggested using the credit reform to help the “western agrarian campaign against eastern capital.” The evangelist William Aberhart learned about it from Unemployment or War by Maurice Colbourne. Aberhart with his radio broadcasts promoted “social credit,” and his listeners favored forming the Social Credit Party in Alberta in 1932.
      Bennett opposed Communists and Socialists. On 11 August 1931 he had declared the Communist Party illegal, and he had their offices raided in Toronto. Seven were imprisoned including General Secretary Tim Buck who had been organizing strikes and was convicted of sedition in November. All seven were sentenced to hard labor for three to five years, and all but one were deported at the end of their sentences. The Toronto Progressive Arts Club dramatized their actions as the play Eight Men Speak which was suppressed by the police. In April 1932 the Canadian Forum wrote,

Conventions, congresses, conferences; United Front, UFA,
Socialist Party of Ontario, League for Social Reconstruction;
these and other watchwords pass from mouth to mouth
in windswept homesteads on the prairies,
in smoking compartments on trains,
where down-at-the-heel drummers have taken to talking
about nationalization of the banks, and the equal wage,
instead of the price of mining stocks.
Toronto furnishes an interesting example
of a process which is going on simultaneously
in every city, town, and hamlet in the Dominion.
Half a dozen left wing movements
have got underway there.38

In 1932 the government sent two naval destroyers to reinforce the Anglo-American suppression of the communist-inspired insurrection in El Salvador. From one of Bennett’s speeches the Toronto Globe on 10 November 1932 published this excerpt:

What do they offer you in exchange for the present order?
Socialism, Communism, dictatorship.
They are sowing the seeds of unrest everywhere.
Right in this city such propaganda is being carried on
and in the little out of the way places as well.
And we know that throughout Canada this propaganda
is being put forward by organizations from foreign lands
that seek to destroy our institutions.
And we ask that every man and woman put the iron heel
of ruthlessness against a thing of that kind.39

Bennett invoked Section 98 of the Criminal Code to arrest and punish eight of the Communist leaders.
      Car-owners who could not afford gas had horses draw their autos that were called “Bennett buggies.” Shacks made with cardboard and corrugated iron were named “Bennett boroughs,” and tramps slept on park benches under newspapers called “Bennett blankets.” In the summer of 1932 about 600 delegates to the Workers’ Economic Conference in Ottawa discussed fiscal and foreign policy in an abandoned garage for three days. When they met on Wellington Street, police who intervened to remove speakers or arrest leaders were jeered and used force.

Canada in Depression & Bennet 1933-35

      Unemployment reached a high of 713,000 in February 1933, and it was 33% for non-farm workers. About 1.5 million men and women depended on relief. From 1929 to 1933 foreign trade had diminished by two-thirds.
      J. S. Woodsworth in 1932 became the first leader of the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) which was very popular in Saskatchewan and British Columbia and was influenced by the exiled Leon Trotsky. At their second conference at Regina in July 1933 they issued the CCF Manifesto by Frank Underhill and F. R. Scott which begins,

   The C.C.F. is a federation of organizations
whose purpose is the establishment in Canada
of a Co-operative Commonwealth in which the principle
regulating production, distribution and exchange will be
the supplying of human needs and not the making of profits.
   We aim to replace the present capitalist system,
with its inherent injustice and inhumanity,
by a social order from which the domination and exploitation
of one class by another will be eliminated,
in which economic planning will supersede
unregulated private enterprise and competition,
and in which genuine democratic self-government,
based upon economic equality will be possible.
The present order is marked by glaring inequalities
of wealth and opportunity, by chaotic waste and instability;
and in an age of plenty it condemns
the great mass of the people to poverty and insecurity.
Power has become more and more concentrated
into the hands of a small irresponsible minority of financiers
and industrialists, and to their predatory interests
the majority are habitually sacrificed.
When private profit is the main stimulus to economic effort,
our society oscillates between periods of feverish prosperity
in which the main benefits go to speculators and profiteers,
and of catastrophic depression, in which the common man’s
normal state of insecurity and hardship is accentuated.
We believe that these evils can be removed
only in a planned and socialized economy
in which our natural resources
and the principal means of production and distribution
are owned, controlled and operated by the people.40

      In 1933 Canada formed the Department of National Defence to develop air-fields and the Trans-Canada Air Route. In the fall a clerk Vivian MacMillan sued Alberta’s Premier John Edward Brownlee for seduction, and she had taken abortion-inducing pills. An appeal reversed the conviction. During the campaign in the fall of 1933 T. D. “Duff” Pattullo and his candidates proposed using massive public investment “for a war on poverty,” and their slogan was “Work and Wages.” In 1933-34 the Farmers’ Unity League (FUL) was formed, and they supported the Canadian Labour Defence League and WUL which together amounted to more than 50,000 people. Between August 1933 and July 1935 Canadian voters dismissed Conservative governments in six provinces.
      The government established the Royal Commission on Banking and Currency, and that was followed by the Bank of Canada Act in June 1934 and the establishing of the Bank of Canada in 1935. The government’s Public Works Construction Act spent $40 million on federal building programs in 1934, and that year the Farmers’ Creditors Arrangement Act made it easier for families to acquire farm loans and keep their farms. Also in 1934 the Natural Products Marketing Act set up a federal board to improve prices and to regulate marketing. In 1935 another public works bill appropriated $18 million for construction.
      In January 1934 Bennett had advised the provinces of Quebec and Ontario to solve their own problems, and he supported a parliamentary committee that studied price spreads and the effects of mass buying. They met sixty times in 1934. They found that Canada Packers had an annual profit of $900,000 while farmers were paid “ruinous prices.” Annie Wells testified that she was paid 9.5 cents for each dress she made that was sold for $1.59 in Eaton’s Toronto store. Clerks in Imperial Tobacco’s stores earned $25.45 a week while the salary of its president Gray Miller was $25,000 a year.
      The success of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the United States persuaded Bennett to go on live radio five times in January 1935 to talk about how public spending by the government could help people by implementing progressive taxes, a minimum wage, a limited work week, insurance for the unemployed and for health, a better pension program, and aid to farmers. He said,

   The agencies of production, of manufacture,
of distribution, of finance:
all the parts of the capitalist system, have only one purpose
and that is to work for the welfare of the people.
And when any of those instruments in any way fails,
it is the plain duty of a government which represents
the people, to remove the cause of failure.41

Bennett’s political philosophy had changed to allow the government to implement reforms, and he called it “the end of laissez-faire.” The next week Parliament opened, and Bennett urged them “to remedy the social and economic injustices now prevailing.” They passed three acts that provided the 8-hour day, the 6-day week, and a federal minimum wage. The Employment and Social Insurance Act was delayed and lacked health insurance and had only limited unemployment insurance, and those exempted included farm workers, longshoremen, teachers, nurses, and civil servants. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council was still the final judge in Canada, and they cancelled most of Bennett’s reforms.
      In April 1935 Bennett traveled to England to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V. When he returned, the Dominion Trade and Industry Commission Act did not follow recommendations by the Price Spreads Report. In June the grain board proposed a monopoly for marketing coarse grains, and Conservatives resisted “a step in the direction of state socialism.” The result was that only wheat lost its monopoly.
      In 1934 more than two million Canadians were depending on public relief. From June 1933 to 1935 labor camps were set up for 170,000 single men who were unemployed. They had to work 44 hours a week for 20 cents a day and 40 cents for their keep. Military discipline was not enforced, and the men complained about the poor food. Nothing was spent on reading material or recreational equipment. During the first nine months there were 57 serious disturbances in the camps. The Communist Party organized workers in the labor camps for farmers. The Workers’ Unity League (WUL) formed the Relief Camp Workers’ Union (RCWU) which organized 3,500 workers in British Columbia.
      About 1,800 camp workers gathered in Vancouver, and they went on strike on 4 April 1935. On May Day a crowd of 25,000 celebrated in Stanley Park, and Mayor Gerry McGeer ordered 400 city police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to parade against “Communism, hoodlumism and mob rule.” On June 3 and 4 about 1,200 strikers began moving east, and 1,800 trekkers rode on a hundred boxcars toward Ottawa. At Winnipeg 1,200 men joined them. Saskatchewan’s Premier James Garfield Gardiner ordered the RCMP to stop the trek at Regina. A delegation was invited to Ottawa to discuss their demands. Bennett interrupted often and claimed that the one thing they did not want was work. The spokesman Slim Evans replied that Bennett was “not fit to be the premier of a Hottentot village.”
      On July 1 trekkers held a rally to ask for money for train fares back to British Columbia. When it was dark, 500 Mounties and police battled them for four hours. Police killed a plainclothes policeman by accident, and 39 strikers, many with gunshot wounds, were taken to a hospital. Others were concerned they might be arrested, and they did not report their injuries. Bennett and his Attorney General Hugh Guthrie considered this an insurrection and ordered it ended. They invoked the Riot Act to challenge 3,000 strikers and 2,000 of their supporters in Regina on July 1, killing two people and injuring dozens. They arrested 120 people; 24 were tried, and 8 were convicted.
      In 1935 the Bennett Administration applied the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act to help 100,000 farmers recover in southern Saskatchewan from the Dust Bowl. The Canadian Wheat Board was established to facilitate efficient grain sales, and the Act required western farmers to sell to the Wheat Board all their wheat and barley that was intended to feed humans.
      The political businessman Henry Herbert Stevens in Parliament was chairman of the Royal Commission on Price Spreads and Mass Buying, and in Parliament he had exposed the corruption of meat-packing companies that made large profits while paying farmers low prices for cattle and hogs. He also showed how garment-makers were underpaid while consumers paid high prices. He called for radical reforms in 1934, and in February his committee began investigating price fixing and corporate abuses. In March 1935 Prime Minister Bennett recommended the Scots writer John Buchan to be the next Governor-General of Canada, and British King George VI made him the Baron Tweedsmuir so that he could serve. Stevens left the Conservative Party, and on July 6 he founded the Reconstruction Party of Canada which divided conservative votes in the federal elections of 1935.
      That year the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act and the Dominion Housing Act were passed. The governments of Canada and the United States began rearming in 1935. On August 22 the province of Alberta elected a Social Credit government. Joe Unwin won and said, “The capitalist system put your sons into graves in France.” His colleague E. O. Duke offered this choice:

Thinking men everywhere agree
that our economic system is decadent.
We must either destroy the machine
or let the machine provide for those displaced by it.42

      Bennett wanted to resign, but the rebellion by Stevens persuaded him to run again. The Liberals created a billboard with a map of Canada showing portraits of 8 Liberal premiers. Their slogan was “It’s King of Chaos.” In the election on 14 October 1935 Mackenzie King and the Liberals got 45% of the votes and gained 83 seats to give them an overwhelming 173 seats while Bennett and the Conservatives received 30% and lost 95 seats leaving them only 39 seats. The Social Credit Party had only 4%; but they gained 17 seats in Parliament while they obtained 56 of the 63 seats in Alberta. J. S. Woodsworth and the CCF got 9.3% and 7 seats while the Reconstruction Party with 384,462 votes or 8.7% had only the one seat of Stevens. Liberal-Progressives with 0.7% gained one more seat giving them 4. On election night Mackenzie King said, “Poverty and adversity, want and misery, are the enemies which Liberalism will seek to banish from our land.”43 Bennett continued to lead Conservatives as the opposition for three more years. A drought in the southern plains caused the population of Saskatchewan to decrease from 921,785 in 1931 to 887,747 in 1941 as people left. In the fiscal year 1935-36 the Canadian government spent $30 million on the military.


1. “John A. Macdonald on the Racial Balance” in Canadian History in Documents, 1763-1966 ed. J. M. Bliss, p. 97.
2. A History of Canada: Dominion of the North by Donald Creighton, p. 282.
3. Canada 1874-1896 Arduous Destiny by Peter B. Waite, p. 225.
4. Memoirs of the Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald, Volume II by Joseph Pope, p. 340.
5. The Penguin History of Canada by Robert Bothwell, p. 248.
6. Canada 1874-1896 Arduous Destiny, p. 119.
7. Ibid., p. 120.
8. Canada 1896-1921: A Nation Transformed by Robert Craig Brown and Ramsay Cook, p. 14.
9. Ibid.
10. The Pelican History of Canada by Kenneth McNaught, p. 210.
11. Canada 1896-1921: A Nation Transformed, p. 163.
12. The Pelican History of Canada, p. 199.
13. Canada 1896-1921: A Nation Transformed, p. 119.
14. The Pelican History of Canada, p. 211.
15. Canada 1896-1921: A Nation Transformed, p. 193.
16. Laurier: The First Canadian by Joseph Schull, p. 613.
17. Canada 1896-1921: A Nation Transformed, p. 208.
18. Ibid., p. 198.
19. Ibid., p. 196.
20. Canada, 1900-1945 by Robert Bothwell, p. 89.
21. The Pelican History of Canada, p. 229-230.
22. Ibid., p. 221.
23. Canada 1896-1921: A Nation Transformed, p. 338.
24. Canadian History in Documents, 1763-1966 ed. J. M. Bliss, p. 259.
25. Canada: A History by Margaret Conrad et al, p. 312.
26. Canada: A Modern History by Bartlet J. Brebner, p. 437.
27. Ibid., p. 417.
28. Ibid., p. 413.
29. The Pelican History of Canada, p. 226.
30. Canada 1922-1939: Decades of Discord by John Herd Thompson and Allen Seager, p. 47.
31. Documenting Canada: A History of Modern Canada in Documents ed. Dave De Brou and Bill Waiser, p. 286.
33.Canada: A Modern History, p. 436.
34. Mr. Prime Minister 1867-1964 by Bruce Hutchison, p. 243.
35. Canada 1922-1939: Decades of Discord, p. 213.
36. Ibid.
37. Ibid., p. 217.
38. Canada 1922-1939: Decades of Discord, p. 230.
39. Canadian Communism: The Stalin Years and Beyond by Norman Penner, p. 117.
40. Canadian History in Documents, 1763-1966, p. 290-291.
41. Canadian History in Documents, 1763-1966, p. 281.
42. Canada 1922-1939: Decades of Discord, p. 236.
43. Mr. Prime Minister 1867-1964, p. 256.

Copyright © 2023 by Sanderson Beck

Latin America & Canada 1850-1935 has been published as a book. For ordering information, please click here.

Latin America & Canada to 1850

Brazil 1850-1935
Uruguay 1850-1935
Argentina 1850-1935
Paraguay 1850-1935 
Bolivia 1850-1935
Chile 1850-1935
Peru 1850-1935
Ecuador 1850-1935
Colombia 1850-1935
Venezuela & Guianas 1850-1935
Haiti & Dominican Republic 1850-1935
Cuba 1850-1935
Puerto Rico 1850-1935
Panama 1850-1935
Costa Rica 1850-1935
Nicaragua 1850-1935
El Salvador 1850-1935
Honduras 1850-1935
Guatemala 1850-1935
Mexico 1850-1935
Canada 1850-1935

Chronology of Canada to 1935
Chronology of Latin America to 1935
Chronology of North & South America to 1786
Chronology of North & South America 1787-1844
Chronology of North & South America 1845-1896
Chronology of United States to 1896
World Chronology to 1830


BECK index