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Transcript of The Thirties
A Decade of Despair
Causes of the Great Depression
Responding to the Depression
Politics of Protest
Distractions from Despair
The Rise of Dictatorships
Canada's Response to Growing Tensions
The end of the economic boom came as a surprise to many Canadians. Virtually every company's profit went up between 1922 and 1926, and share values went up too.
Many investors were buying "on margin," that is, buying shares with only a 10% downpayment. It was assumed that when the prices of the stocks increased, as they had for 10 years, the remaining 90% would be paid.
When some cautious investors started selling their stocks in order to cash in on high profits, other investors rushed to follow their lead.
On October 29, 1929, the New York Stock Market collapsed, followed by the Toronto and Montreal stock markets.
The collapse of the stock market was the beginning of the
, a period of severe economic and social hardship, massive unemployment, and terrible suffering.
A downturn in the economy. The most severe economic depression of the twentieth century in the 1930s is sometimes called the Great Depression.
Overproduction of Wheat
More wheat was being produced than was being sold. As sales decreased the income of farmers dropped. Soon many were unable to meet their mortgage and loan payments.
Overproduction of Goods
Manufacturers stockpiled goods
Manufacturers cut back on goods they were producing
This led to layoffs in factories
More goods being produced than being sold
This meant less income for families and less spending on consumer goods
High Tariffs / Protectionism
The United States had imposed high tariffs on foreign goods coming into the country. These tariffs were meant to protect the U.S. domestic market by making foreign items more expensive.
However, this protectionism had harmful effects, as other countries imposed their own tariffs in response to the United States' actions. Tariffs caused a slowdown in world trade as opportunities for exports shrank.
Germany was unable to meet its financial obligations under the 1919 peace agreement. France and Great Britain counted on these reparations to pay back their own war debts owed to the United States. Britain and France had also borrowed from the United States after the war, and the United States was demanding repayment of these loans as well.
The Depression illustrated a major weakness in the Canadian economy: its dependency on the export of primary resources.
Canada supplied 40% of the world demand for wheat and 65% for newprint. This made Canada extremely vulnerable to changes in the world markets.
As international markets reduced their demand for these products, people in Canada's wheat and paper industries lost their jobs. Without jobs, they could no longer afford to buy such items as cars, radios, or telephones. Without customers, the people who worked in the factories producing these goods also lost their jobs. Within a year, millions of Canadians were out of work.
A system of using tariffs to raise the price of imported goods in order to protect domestic producers.
Thousands of Canadians existed on "pogey" - government relief payments given to those who had no alternative sources of income.
The government did not make getting relief easy. People had to wait in line for hours and then publically declare their financial failure.
They received vouchers that could be used to buy food. The vouchers were never enough to cover expenses, and obtaining them was always a humiliating experience.
Private charities also helped those who were desperate, providing used clothing and meals. Soup kitchens were set up to help the hungry and homeless.
By the winter of 1933, more than one-quarter of Canada's workforce was unemployed. The country was filled with young, jobless, homeless men drifting from one place to another, looking for work that wasn't there.
Penniless, they travelled across the country by "hopping" freight trains. Some men even rode on the roof or clung to the rods underneath the train.
After "riding the rods," the men would stay a day or two in the many shanty towns that sprung up in and around cities. These sprawling shanty towns were often referred to as "jungles."
The Dust Bowl Hits Saskatchewan
Conditions on the prairies were particularly severe:
The collapse of the wheat market left families struggling to survive.
A disastrous drought hit in 1928 that lasted 8 years.
A plague of grasshoppers descended on the prairies.
Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act (1935)
Helped farmers build irrigation systems and reservoirs.
Few jobs other than domestic work.
Some believed women helped cause the Depression by taking jobs from men.
First Nations WWI Veterans
Aboriginal families on relief got only $5 a month.
They were expected to "live off the land"
By 1932 many were starving.
Chinese deaths from starvation forced the B.C. government to fund a soup kitchen.
Chinese were expected to be fed at half of what it cost to feed a white man.
Some destitute Chinese said they'd rather starve than accept relief.
Canadian Nationalist Party - Winnipeg (1930s)
Jews in Canada suffered from anti-Semitism - prejudice specifically against Jews.
many professions were closed to them
many organizations forbade Jewish membership
Prime Minister Mackenzie King
PM on and off since 1921
Mackenzie King was totally unprepared to deal with the Depression.
He believed the situation was temporary and that in time the economy would recover.
He felt provincial and municipal governments should be responsible for relief.
• He also declared that he would not give a "five-cent piece" to any province that did not have a Liberal government
• This was one of the reasons why Liberals lost the elections and Conservatives took over.
R.B. Bennett's Conservative party now attempted to deal with the Depression.
"One of the greatest assets a man can have on entering into life's struggle is poverty."
Unemployment Relief Act
His government gave the provinces $20 million for work-creation programs.
Bennett raised tariffs by 50% to try to protect Canadian industries. This did provide protection for some Canadian businesses, but in the long run it did more harm than good, as other nations, in turn, erected trade barriers against Canada.
Canada: A People's History
The Enemies Within
Work camps were usually located deep in the woods, so the men were completely isolated. Men worked on projects such as building roads, clearing land, and digging drainage ditches. They were paid twenty cents a day and given room and board. The food was terrible and the bunks were often bug-infested.
In 1935, over a thousand men left the camps in the interior of British Columbia in protest against camp conditions. Under the leadership of their union, the men decided to take their complaints to Ottawa.
As they rode through the Prairies they attracted more supporters along the way. When the protesters reached Regina, the RCMP confined them in a local stadium, allowing only the leaders to proceed to Ottawa.
Prime Minister Bennett attacked the leaders as radicals and trouble-makers.
Back in Regina, the RCMP were ordered to clear all the trekkers from the stadium.
The trekkers resisted, battling the RCMP and the local police for two hours. One man was killed, many were injured, and 130 men were arrested.
When the federal government closed relief camps in 1937 and the B.C. provincial government reduced relief payments, many men were left destitute. In protest against the lack of government support, these men conducted "sit-ins".
When 1600 protesters occupied the Vancouver Art Gallery, the main post office, and the Georgia Hotel. When some refused to leave the Georgia Hotel, they were evicted with tear gas. For the next two days there were battles between police and "sitdowners," causing much damage to storefronts in the area.
Canada: A People's History
A Clean Sweep and The Politics of Hope
Leader: J.S. Woodsworth
The Regina Manifesto
- Public ownership of key industries
- Social programs to assist people in need of money: the elderly, unemployed, homeless, sick and others
- Government should spend money on public works to create employment
The CCF becomes the NDP in 1961.
Leader: William "Bible Bill" Aberhart
Social Credit was based on the belief that capitalism was a wasteful economic system.
Aberhart felt that the government should release money into the economy so that people could spend it. He promised each citizen a "basic dividend" of $25 a month to buy necessities.
Leader: Mitch Hepburn
Championed the causes of the "little man."
Railed against big business
Sold the provincial fleet of automobiles
Did little for the unemployed
Ruthless suppression of strikes
Leader: Maurice Duplessis
The Union Nationale was a nationalistic French-Canadian party that relied on the support of the Roman Catholic Church and rural voters.
Duplessis did little to improve economic and social conditions in Quebec.
Canada: A People's History
The Grip Tightens
Leader: Dufferin Pattullo
Pattullo was a strong believer in greater provincial spending power. He promised voters a "Little New Deal," based on the New Deal in the United States.
He introduced reforms to shorten the work day, increase the minimum wage, and increase relief payments by 20 per cent.
In 1935, voters returned Mackenzie King to power.
Five years in opposition did little to change King's stand on government intervention in the economy.
His views clashed with those of the
National Employment Commission
he had set up to examine the state of unemployment in Canada. It recommended the government spend millions of dollars on job creation and training programs. King spent only a fraction of this amount.
Recommendations of the
The federal government should have more control over taxation.
The federal government would then give the poorer provinces grants or
to ensure that every province was able to offer its citizens the same level of services.
The federal government should bear the responsibility of unemployment insurance and other social benefits such as pensions.
Wealthier provinces did not want their tax dollars going to other provinces.
The provinces also felt that many of the recommendations would lead to a loss of provincial power.
Payments made by the federal government to some provinces so that the standard of living will be more uniform across Canada.
Cooperative Commonwealth Federation
Social Credit Party
Liberals in Ontario
Hepburn with the Dionne quintuplets
Liberals in British Columbia
Popular forms of entertainment in the 1930s:
Movies, magazines, and the radio
In the Soviet Union, Josef Stalin took over as leader of the Communist Party after the death of Lenin. Under his leadership, the Soviet Union became a
, with every aspect of people's lives controlled by the Communist Party.
An undemocratic state in which the government demands total obedience from citizens and controls all aspects of society.
Fascist governments are opposed to democracy, extremely nationalistic, and rely on military and police power to maintain absolute control. They control all media, and use propaganda to promote the ideals of the state.
In Italy, Benito Mussolini came to power in 1922, creating a fascist government.
Since the end of WWI, Germany had grown increasingly unhappy with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. It bitterly resented the "war guilt" clause that required it to make reparations to other countries.
The German economy had been ruined by the war; in order to make reparations, the government had begun printing large amounts of money in the 1920s. As a result, the value of the German currency declined and inflation spiralled.
Hitler gathered support for the Nazi Party by:
- criticizing the weak German government
- criticizing the humiliating terms of the Treaty of Versailles
- claiming he had solutions to bring Germany out of the depression
Once in power, the Nazi government:
- defied terms of Treaty of Versailles by stopping reparations
- started a massive expansion of the armed forces
- subsidized farmers to rebuild their farms
- public projects (Autobahn)
- banned other political parties and trade unions
The Nazi party was deeply racist. Its members believed that the German people were a "master race" of Aryans. Non-Aryans, who included Jews, Roma (gypsies), and Slavs, were considered inferior. People with mental or physical disabilities were despised because they destroyed the image of the "master race." The Nazis persecuted these groups along with Communists and homosexuals.
Canada: A Peoples History
Mr. King Goes to Berlin
Our Only Hope is Canada
In 1931, Japan invaded the Chinese industrial province of Manchuria. The League of Nations condemned Japan's action and tried to negotiate, but Japan responded by withdrawing from the League.
In 1935, Italy invaded Abyssinia. The Ethiopians fought hard and won support around the world. This time the League immediately voted to impose trade sanctions against Italy, but oil was not included. France and Great Britain were reluctant to punish Italy as they wanted Italy's support in case of a new war.
What resources did Japan acquire after its invasion of Manchuria? How would the invasion of Manchuria assist Japan in its later invasion of China?
With the invasion of Ethiopia, what advantage would Italy have should war break out in northern Africa?
In 1936, Hitler ordered his troops into the Rhineland, an area along Germany's western border that was demilitarized by the Treaty of Versailles. His actions went unpunished.
That same year, General Francisco Franco and his Falange (fascist) followers led an attack on Spain's government. Franco, with military support from Italy and Germany won the ensuing civil war. Democratic governments around the world chose not to get involved though socialist supporters from several countries went to Spain to join in the fight against fascism.
Canadian volunteers - the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion (the Mac-Paps) in Spain.
In March 1938 he took over neighboring Austria.
He then demanded the right to take over the Sudetenland. At the Munich Conference in 1938, Britain and France agreed to this demand.
In March 1939, Hitler took over the rest of Czechoslovakia.
The final blow came in September 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland.
In August, 1939, Hitler stunned the world by concluding a non-aggression act with the Soviet Union. Germany was free to make its move.
Throughout the 1930s, Western democracies adopted a policy of
in response to Germany's aggression. This made Hitler bolder.
The granting of concessions in order to maintain peace.
Which countries might have felt threatened by Germany's actions? Why?
Italy, also ruled by a fascist government at the time, was Germany's ally. What difference might this alliance have made to the countries of Europe?
Throughout the events of the 1930s, Canadians remained
. Prime Minister King was anxious to find out what Hitler's intentions were, so in 1937 he went to Germany to visit him.
People who hold the belief that one's country should keep separate from the politics and disputes of other countries.
Pierre Rinfret, Canada's Secretary of State:
"Despite all sentiments of humanity, so long as Canada has an unemployment problem, there will be no 'open door' policy to political refugees here."
Fred Blair, Immigration Director, on Jews coming to Canada:
"None is too many."
Debt from the First World War
As protectionism grew, international trade decreased, and several countries were unable to pay back their loans to the U.S.
The Desperate Years
During the Depression, immigrants were viewed with hostility when they competed for scarce jobs. By 1935, more than 28,000 immigrants were deported from Canda.
Bennett's New Deal
When Franklin Roosevelt became the U.S. president in 1933, he introduced a "New Deal" that created public work programs for the unemployed and farmers. His most drastic action was the introduction of the Social Security Act.
Fairer, progressive taxation
Insurance to protect workers
Legislation for workplace reforms
Revised old-age pensions
Agricultural support programs
Many voters saw Bennett's change in policy as a desperate attempt to win votes. For most people it was too little and too late.