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The 1920s: Canada's Road to Independence
Transcript of The 1920s: Canada's Road to Independence
Soldiers Returning from War
The people that left to go to war were not the same when they got back, for they had seen and felt many horrible things. Some of them had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and were unable to cope with it because there was no help provided. People died at home when the soldiers returned because with them the soldiers brought the Spanish Flu. A new era was formed after WWI, the roaring twenties. The young people did this to replace the remnants of the old world that was full of horrors.
Canadian Soldiers returned from the war in 1919.
Many returning soldiers were injured, but there were no special medical services for them. There was also no steady pension plan in place for them, and there were few jobs available at the time.
The roaring twenties was a complete change of culture from the Victorian era. There were new fashions, new dances, new sports, and new music. Some of the popular sports during that era were hockey, baseball, rugby, golf, and curling. Jazz music was the new thing, with an upbeat tune that all the young people liked to listen to too lift their spirits.
Technology was being used much more in the roaring twenties. Telephones were now something every house was equipped with, radios provided entertainment, and movie houses were everywhere. Movies even had sound after 1927.
New fashions for men included straw hats, bow ties, slicked hair, form-fitting suits and bell-bottom pants.
The new style for women was the flapper look. This fashion included bobbed hair, tight fitting hats, and skirts that come above the knee.
New dances became popular in the 1920s, such as the Charleston and the Shimmy.
The group of seven was made up of painters that painted the Canadian Landscape from 1920-1933. The first seven people in the group were Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A. Y. Jackson, Frank Johntson, Arthur Lismer, J. E. H. MacDonald, and Frederick Varley.
The radio was invented in the 1920s, and now people are able to use this as a source of entertainment in their own homes.
Cars are now widely used, and highways are being built to accommodate them. Cars in Canada drive on the other side of the road than they do in Britain.
Things like washing machines, snow blowers, neon signs, refrigerators, bobby pins and insulin were invented in the 1920s.
Role of Women
At the beginning of the 1920s the principle roles of women are still as wives and mothers. Job opportunities are still limited; nurses and teachers were common, as well as secretaries, telephone operators and sales clerks. A few women are able to become doctors, professors, engineers, and even lawyers.
Agnes Macphail was the only woman in the House of Commons from 1921 until 1935.
The Persons Case
Emily Murphy is appointed as a magistrate in Alberta in 1929, and she joins with four other women (creating the Famous Five) to face the task of getting women to be defined as "persons". In April of 1928 the Supreme Court of Canada decided that women were not considered as "persons" under the Constitution. So, the Famous five appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain. The Judicial Committee declared its support for women on October 18th, 1929.
The Famous Five and Prime Minister Mackenzie King
In the 1920s Aboriginal people are still not classified as "persons", which means they have no right to vote. The Allied Tribes of BC challenged the provincial and federal governments on the potlatch ceremony, cut off lands, and the Aboriginal title. Cut off lands were a problem because the federal government kept taking pieces of First Nation reservations without the consent of the Aboriginals. After the allied tribes challenged them, the federal government went and changed the Indian Act to make it so that no Aboriginal consent was needed to cut-off parts of their reservations.
Residential schooling was a big problem. The Canadian government wanted to assimilate the aboriginals, but they were just causing physical and psychological pain to the children and their families.
There were many acts of racism towards African Canadians in the 1920s, and only a few publically friendly interactions. In Nova Scotia the Education Act passed in 1918 put "black" and "European" children into separate schools. This separation occurred until 1954. In 1921 people were put into racially segregated seating in Montreal theaters. But, in 1924 the Edmonton City Council would not support any attempts to ban African-Canadians from public swimming pools or public parks. Then, the first Canadian union to abolish racial discrimination was the Brotherhood of Railway Workers.
In the 1920s, it was not a good time to be an immigrant to Canada unless you were British or American. Immigrants from Eastern Europe were treated unfairly because of the war. They were also often accused of being socialist revolutionaries, so the government wanted them deported. Japanese immigrants were limited to 150 people a year, and none of Canada's immigration restrictions became relaxed until the economy improved in 1925. Labour groups in Canada didn't like immigrants because they were hard to compete with for work. For the working conditions that immigrants accepted were horrible, and the wages so small. Farmers and industrial owners seemed to be the only ones who really liked immigrants because they would work longer hours for less pay and do jobs that Canadians didn't want.
In 1923 the Canadian federal government passed a law that wouldn't let the Chinese immigrants to come to Canada. This lasted until 1947.
Canadian National Identity
In the 1920s Canada was becoming more and more independent. For example, they had their own seat in the League of Nations. They were also moving away from their ties with Britain and developing new ties with the United States. The Imperial Conference in 1923 gives Canada even more independence as it becomes equal to Britain in terms of being a country.
During WWI unions had reduced their wages out of patriotic duty to the Canadian war effort. Union members were now having a tough time getting jobs because other people would settle for such little pay and such long hours.
The OBU was founded in March 1919 at the Western Labor Conference. Its goal was to represent all Canadian workers in one organization.
Winnipeg General Strike
In May 1919 the Winnipeg Strike occurred. More than 30000 people went on strike, and more than half of those people were not even union members. No services in Winnipeg were functioning because of the strike.
The Winnipeg General Strike happened when Winnipeg's metal and building workers walked off their jobs. They wanted higher wages, a shorter work week, and the right for union leadership to negotiate with employers on their behalf. The strike got so out of hand that the federal government had to intervene and the Immigration Act was changed to allow foreign-born union leaders to be deported. The Mayor of Winnipeg was even forced to appoint a special police because no services were working. The leaders of the strike were arrested.
Citizens Committee of 1000
The Citizens Committee of 1000 was consisted of a group of business leaders, politicians, and industrialists who saw the union leaders leading the Winnipeg Strike as part of a communist conspiracy to overthrow the government.
On Saturday, June 21st, 1919 the Winnipeg strikers held a parade to protest the mayor's actions of firing civic workers and arresting the strike leaders. The parade got violent when the Royal North West Mounted Police and the Special police charged into the crowd armed with clubs and pistols. One striker was killed, 30 injured, and tons of other arrested that bloody day. Seven of the arrested leaders served two months to two years in prison after being convicted of conspiring to overthrow the government. The rest of the strikers were not permitted to return to work for 43 days. Lots of those people were fired, and others had to sign a contract that said they wouldn't join a union before they were rehired. Later, when a Royal Commission was put in place to examine the strike it was found that the workers' issues were valid. So, what they fought for at the Winnipeg Strike was gradually achieved.
J. S. Woodsworth was a minister as well as a well-known social reformer who was arrested during the Winnipeg Strike. Later, he founded the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), that's known today as the New Democratic Party (NDP).
Maritime Rights Movement
In the 1920s the Maritime Provinces were noticing that there influence in national politics was less than it used to be, they were becoming less important to Canada. Prominent business and political leaders formed the Maritime Rights movement, which urged all politicians seeking office to promote policies that would benefit the Maritimes. Unfortunately, the movement eventually withered away.
Farmers from the prairies were becoming increasingly frustrated by the National Policy because they couldn't buy U.S. equipment, which was better, for near the same price as Canadian equipment because of tariffs. What the farmers wanted was free trade, lower freight rates, and lower storage fees. So when no political party met their demands, the farmers formed their own political parties. By 1920, Members of these parties were in all the legislatures from the prairies as well as in Ontario. The federal Progressive Party was formed in 1919 and led by Thomas Crerar who was a former minister of agriculture. The party didn't last very long, but it was very influential in creating changes to Canada's social policy.
William Lyon Mackenzie King
In 1919, William Lyon Mackenzie King became the new leader of the Liberals. He won federal elections in 1921, 1926, and 1935.
William Lyon Mackenzie King
Mackenzie King always sought out an option that would offend the least amount of people. He's very important in Canada's journey to independence, and without him some of the components of the journey may not have happened.
Arthur Meighan replaced Robert Borden as the leader of the Conservative party.
He's a brilliant debater and a long-standing Member of Parliament who believes in principle over compromise and doesn't care who he offends.
The King Byng Crisis
The King Byng crisis occurs in 1926 when Mackenzie King publicly challenges Britain on its influence over Canada's internal politics.
At the time, the Liberals had to gain the support of the Progressive Party to stay in power. But sadly they lost the support because of the liquor smuggling scandal. The the Conservative Party called a vote of disapproval against the Liberals, and as a result, King asked Governor General Julian Byng to call another election. Byng refused because a vote of censure should be done first, though eventually, Byng did have to call an election. King appealed to nationalistic sentiments and ended up wining the election.
Lord Balfour was a respected British politician who had a committee under his leadership write a report that supported the dominion's position in the Imperial Conference. This report is known as the Balfour Report.
Statute of Westminster
The Statute of Westminster was passed by the British government in 1931, making Canada a country now equal to Britain. This statue formally made the British Empire the British Commonwealth. It's the result of the Imperial conference and the Balfour Report.
The Halibut Treaty was an agreement between Canada and America concerning the protection of Halibut in the Pacific Ocean. Britain insisted that they also sign the treaty, as they always have, but King wouldn't have it. Canada is becoming more independent, so Mackenzie King insists that Canada should be allowed to sign an international treaty without the added signature of a British representative. He supports this with the threat to put an independent Canadian representative in Washington, which causes Britain to back off immediately.
The Imperial Conference was called in 1926 because the dominions of the British Empire (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa) had submitted a request of formal recognition of their autonomy. Its result is the Statute of Westminster.
When Britain sent news of the Chanak crisis in 1922 to King he sent the issue to Parliament. By the time the House of Commons was done debating the topic, there was no more crisis. This was the first occasion that Canada didn't just automatically send help to Britain.
Canada wants Independence
Some of Canada's resources were wheat, paper and pulp, mining, and hydro-electric power.
The United States
Big American auto companies were also the main auto companies seen in Canada.
Companies from the United States invest in many different things that Canada has to offer. They invested in paper mills and mines and controlled portions of Canada's oil business and electrical companies. There were lots of tourists from the U.S. in Canada during the roaring twenties, and their cultures were very similar.
This system was introduced by the United States to avoid Canadian tariffs. Companies from the U.S. would manufacture their products in Canada, and then sell them there, removing the tariffs that would be added to the products otherwise and making the products more appealing to Canadians.
A bootlegger is someone who sells alcohol illegally, they were very common in the 1920s due to prohibition. Even when liquor became legal most places in Canada in 1921, smuggling alcohol to US citizens became a common and profitable business.
The Woman's Christian Temperance Union was big on prohibition, which banned the production and sale of alcoholic beverages in Canada. By 1920 this concept was no longer popular with most Canadians and eventually Canadians adopted government-controlled liquor outlets.
Stock Market Crash
On October 29th, 1929, the New York Stock Exchange collapsed. This collapse marks the shift from 1920 prosperities to the 1930 depression.
It was a growing development in Canadian politics that consisted of the concerns of various regions of Canada with their own, local problems.
The Chanak Crisis