Monday, September 30, 2013

Oliver's Turbulent Twenties

A 1924 photo of a hippo cart. This hippo belonged to a circus and apparently enjoyed pulling a cart. How do you tell? 

This is a 'knocker-upper'. Before the days of alarm clocks, people like Mary Smith would earn a wage shooting dry peas at the windows of sleeping workers. This photo was taken in Limehouse Fields, England.
Louis Armstrong plays for his wife. The couple is in front of the Sphinx at the pyramids in Giza in 1961.

A 1923 wedding in Egypt.

When I left off Friday, John Oliver and his government had just held an election on December 1, 1920. The Liberals barely survived that election, winning 25 seats out of 47. Bowser, leader of the Conservatives, ran an aggressive campaign, winning 15 seats. The remaining seven seats went to Independents and Labour members.

The Liberals support came from urban centres primarily. Oliver himself won seats in Delta and Victoria. This election was won by Oliver largely due to a fragmented opposition and it signified a shift in the Liberal government. Oliver entered the new decade facing dissent and opposition in his own party. Other ministers considered him "bossy" and the younger, more urbane members of parliament were tired of the grandfatherly farmer-premier.
8-year-old Samuel Reshevsky defeats several chess masters in France in this 1920 photo.

This 1868 photo was taken in Nevada and shows a Native American looking down at the newly-completed section of the Trans-Continental rail road.
This March 1955 photo is the last known one taken of Albert Einstein.

May 6, 1937, the Hindenberg flies over Manhattan hours before it crashed.

Perhaps due to this hostile environment, Oliver turned to a careful, almost tentative form of governing. The vibrant, reform motivated government associated with the Brewster-Oliver administration was gone. The 1920s became a decade of economical uncertainty.

Oliver became even more cautious when it was obvious that the province's coffers could not rely on revenue from resource-based industries such as forestry to support the expensive initiatives of social reform. The external pressure exerted by the opposition and business also dampened the premier's enthusiasm for social reform. When a new political party, led by Vancouver millionaire Major-General Alexander Duncan McRae and Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper, was formed in 1923, they called for an end to waste in government and the termination of the party system. 

This party's interest was in big business not the disadvantaged of society. The business community also expressed his dissatisfaction with Oliver's government. The forestry industry fought a public battle with the government though the years of 1923 and 1924 because the government proposed to raise royalties charged to forest companies. 

I love this photo. It was taken in 1929 in NYC Grand Central Station. Now, tall buildings block the sunlight from shining through like this. However, can you imagine how glorious it must have been?
1937, the Nazis hold a rally in the Cathedral of Light.

Marilyn Monroe in Korea, performing for the troops in 1954.
In 1913, these two Civil War veterans shake hands at Gettysburg. Neither man looks happy to be doing so!

Numerous issues plagued Oliver and one of them was Prohibition. On March 20, 1920, the province had voted against Prohibition in favour of government-controlled alcohol sales. This solution was controversial, even within the Liberal party. In 1921, MLA, Henry George Thomas Perry, objected to the government profiting from the sale of alcohol. He warned that "British Columbia should not become a second Monte Carlo, or the Premier of the province another Prince of Monaco." 

The Government Liquor Act was introduced and it provided for the sale of alcohol in government stores - known as John Oliver's drug stores - but said nothing of the sale in bars and saloons.

A lifeguard in 1920.
A fashion show at the beach in 1928.

In 1901, Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She did it for the money and advised others not to do it. 
This Austrian boy has just received new shoes during World War II.

John Oliver faced many disappointments and hardships in his life. Now, it looked like his second term as premier was going to be one of turmoil and strife. I will tell you more on Wednesday.

Once again, I have to thank the Dictionary of Canadian Biography website for the information above and to my mother and her high school friend for the photos.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Parents living in an apartment need not worry any longer. If you want your baby to get fresh air, sunshine and be totally safe then just get a 1937 baby cage!

In 1911, Niagara Falls froze!
In the 1920s, ladies' swimsuits were measured. If the garment was too short, the women would be fined.

In 1907, Annette Kellerman promoted a woman's right to wear a one piece bathing suit. She was arrested for indecency.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Post-War Oliver

When John Oliver became premier, World War I was just ending. Remember the work Oliver had put in to offer veterans farmland in remote communities? Well, the returning soldiers were more interested in settling in the urban and industrial areas, disappointing our new premier.

Oliver's government attempted to deal with the challenges presented in post wartime. They introduced legislation that limited a workday to eight hours in certain industries and provided a minimum wage for women. As well, the Liberals moved to establish a mothers' pension in 1920, provide maintenance for deserted wives, as well as improve both health and educational services. Legislation was also passed to regulate public utilities and control the forestry industry. At this time, the government believed that its direct intervention was the way to help with the problems that beset the province.

These reforms weren't enough. There was still social and economical turmoil. The farmers of the province even went so far as to form their own political party in 1917, the United Farmers of British Columbia, an action that upset Oliver. I guess he must have felt betrayed considering farming was where he got his start and he felt he had remained loyal to the farmers of the province.

More than the farmers were unhappy too. During the first few years of Oliver's term, there was labour unrest everywhere. Some workers went on strike in support of those involved with the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.

Our premier also gained some notoriety when he sued a lawyer for the company that owned the Dolly Varden mine. It was a libel case; the lawyer had suggested that Oliver was involved in private land speculation. He won but was only awarded a token amount in damages. Apparently, the court had decided that Honest John's reputation had not suffered and he hadn't lost anything because of the accusation.
Oliver's leadership was the subject of criticism, from his own Liberal party as well as outside forces. Some Liberals were upset that Oliver hadn't promptly submitted his selection as party leader for endorsement. In June of 1920, John said fine and called for an election on December 1, 1920.

This was a historic election in B.C. for it was the first time that women would be able to vote in this province. Originally, Oliver had considered having the election in the fall but John was warned this was a bad time for women to get out and vote due to church fairs and canning preserves.

It turned out that Oliver and his Liberals had more to worry about than just the women. Attacking his government were the resurrected Conservatives and an assortment of parties and candidates representing farmers, veterans, and labour.

The Liberals asked voters to allow Liberals to continue with their "safe, sane and progressive administration". The Premier focused his campaign on a theme that would become a constant feature of politics for the next fifty years - the building of roads to open up the rural parts of the province.

So how did Oliver and the provincial Liberals do in the 1920 election? I will tell you that on Monday. 

Thanks goes to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography website for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From Farmer to Premier

Cincinnati street cars in 1913.
1928 taxicab strike in New York.

Harris and Ewing took this photo of an old general store in 1917 or 1918.

This photo, taken between 1910 and 1915, shows Jack Barnett on the right, a performer with the Barnum and Bailey circus.

Liberals were once again running the province and the new premier assigned two cabinet positions to John Oliver. One was railway and the other was agriculture. 

Agriculture was a logical choice for Oliver. He understood the challenges faced by farmers and knew the importance of agriculture to the province. He was also concerned with the plight of returning soldiers. He wanted to ensure that they would have the opportunity to own and develop farms in rural areas.

One night, while lying bed, John had an idea. He got out of bed and, in his nightshirt, wrote the "Land Settlement and [Development] Act". This was landmark legislation when it was passed in 1917. (It was also nicknamed the 'nightshirt" act.) Oliver went on to urge, successfully, the federal government to establish a national policy for the settlement of returning soldiers.
 This recruitment poster from World War I was sent to me by a friend of mine, John Hardin, a talented writer.
The railway portfolio enabled Oliver to explore another of his political interests, railway subsidies. The Pacific Great Eastern Railway was a pressing concern of his. This privately promoted scheme was closely associated with the Conservatives and the PGER had never fulfilled its objective of establishing a north-south line to serve the province.

At one point, Oliver said, "he was not going to become the foster-father of this illegitimate offspring of two unnatural parents. It was a waif left on my doorstep. It was conceived in the sin of political necessity; it was begotten in the iniquity of a half-million dollar campaign fund. I refuse to be the godfather of any such foundling."

Oliver did initiate an investigation into the railway's finances and negotiated its purchase. He did receive criticism from the press for these actions, which made him quite indignant. Oliver wasn't fond of the PGER and he claimed to have "sweat blood" to organize a deal that was in the best interest of the province.
Oliver had established himself as one of Premier Brewster's chief lieutenants when the premier died on March 1, 1918. Four days later, Oliver was elected leader of the Liberal party and on March 6, John Oliver became B.C.'s 19th premier.

For almost a decade, Oliver held the reins of power. He stuck to his distinctively rustic style, which many British Columbians seem to find comforting. He was plain spoken and seemingly unaffected by the trappings of office. In fact, he continued to wear the same old-fashioned tweed suits and heavy boots that had become his trademarks.

Soon after he assumed office, Oliver was meeting with a delegation from the province's municipalities "Doff your broadclothes and don your overalls" he instructed them. In other words, get to work and take responsibility for your overspending.  Oliver was a man of the people, distrusted experts and was totally lacking in pretence. He was just what the province needed in a time when citizens were apprehensive about their future.
Thanks to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography for the information on John Oliver and to my mommy's friend for the old photos.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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