Friday, July 17, 2015

The Pause


In 1913, Vancouver had over 49 miles of paved streets and 153 miles of sewers. The majority of that was served with domestic gas from 50 miles of mains. We had 16 main-office banks, 47 branch offices.

H.H. "Harry" Stevens, a former alderman, was a member of Parliament. For the port, Stevens secured its first grain elevator, Dominion No. 1, with a 1.3 million bushels capacity. Construction on this $1,750,000 structure began in 1914. For years, it was known as "Stevens' Folly" but history proved him right.

There were 337 teachers in the Vancouver School district teaching over 12,000 students.

The real action in those years was at the port. Its activities were immense. The CPR replaced three of the old Empress liners in 1913 with two largest liners the Pacific had ever seen - Empresses of Asia and Russia. The Canadian-Australasian Line was running a monthly passenger liner service and semi monthly cargo service to Honolulu and the Antipodes.

14 ships were on the CP coastal runs, besides the numerous tugs and barges. The Grand Trunk Pacific had five vessels in coastal service; Ocean Steamship Co., Mutual Steam Navigation Co. and Harrison Direct Line had 20 deep-sea vessels running to the U.K. and Continent via the Orient and Suez on a regular schedule. The Royal Mail Steam Packet had seven vessels; East Asiatic Line, six on a bimonthly service via Cape Horn; Pacific Coast Steamship Co. had coastal liners departing every five days for San Francisco and southern ports; Union Steamship Co., had 10 passenger vessels in the coast service; five deep-sea vessels serviced the halibut fleets and Vancouver was an important halibut-landing port. Grain exports - sacked - were 1,250,000 bushels in 1913. By the way, the port was experimenting in opening the grain trade.

It looked like Vancouver was going to survive the 1913 depression unscathed and the port was doing great business, which helped. Then war broke out in 1914 and the Admiralty took over the Canadian Pacific liners. The year, for the first time in the history of the city, port business declined.

Customs receipts were down from $8.2 million to $5.2 million. Building permits went from $10.4 to $4.4 million; bank clearings from $605 to $420 million. Fortunately, the city had reserves of strength it had lacked in 1893 and could call on them for backup.

Business leaders claimed the banks "had put the brakes on" in order to keep the boom from running out of control and that this was just a "pause" in prosperity. However, a year later, Jonathon Rogers, President of the Vancouver Board of Trade, changed the tune. With the failure of the Dominion Trust, a major financial panic was created. This was a depression, not a slight pause.

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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