Wednesday, July 15, 2015

1913 Depression

During the 1900's, the city of Vancouver grew and so did the militia. In 1909, Company 18 of the Army Medical Corps was embodied; in 1910 the 72nd Regiment, Seaforth Highlanders; in 1912, the 6th Field Company, Canadian Engineers, and Company 19, Canadian Army Service Corps; in 1913, the 11th Irish Fusiliers.

A new drill hall was built on Beatty Street (here are some photos of the drill hall in 2010); in 1904 Rifleman S. J. Perry won the King's Prize at Bisley and in 1913, Major W. Hart-McHarg of the Rifles won the title of World's Champion Marksmen at a meet in the United States. Ironically, he came home with Kaiser Wilhelm's Palma Gold Trophy.

When the boom peaked in Vancouver in 1912, the total authorized strength of the Vancouver militia units was 1182. Their actual strength was two-thirds that.

In the last days of 1912, the world entered into an economic depression and the Vancouver boom came to a standstill.  Although the president of the Board of Trade called it 'a pause', it was a dead halt. The 'depression' lasted through 1913 and 1914. Internationally, this was a worse economic depression than the one in 1907 but Vancouver was in a better shape to handle it.

The city had "meat on its bones". Yes, there was hunger, deprivation and suffering and no welfare of unemployment relief like there is today but a far larger proportion of the people were self-sustaining and the city felt an obligation to help.

The fact that more people were able to get over the bad times was due mainly to the fact that Vancouver had become too large to shut down. The same applied to major industries; they could not shut down without collapsing altogether, and now they had the resources to enable them to keep alive.

A new CPR - Canadian Pacific Railway -station - still in use - was being built; the CNR - Canadian National Railway - had $10 million to spend on terminal facilities and most was spent in Vancouver; the PGE - Pacific Great Eastern Railway - and Kettle Valley Railways were being built with Vancouver as their major supply depot. The population of the city, not counting Point Grey and South Vancouver, was growing rapidly. 134,000.

Vancouver had between 300 and 400 industrial plants. The B.C. Electric was delivering 76,125 horsepower from its Buntzen No.1 and No.2 Plants on Indian Arm at 20,000 volts, drawing stored water from Coquitlam Lake; with substations in the West End and on Earls Road. The company's new headquarters and interurban depot was being constructed at Carrall and Hastings Streets.

The B.C. Electric had nearly 2560 miles of street-car lines operating in the city and its suburbs. A dispute with Point Grey Municipal Council led to the shutting down of services on the Sasamat line and on the Shaughnessy line south of 16th Avenue. Consumption of electricity in 1913 was over 213 million kilowatt hours.

Thanks to the book Vancouver, From Milltown to Metropolis by Alan Morley for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill

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