Friday, August 7, 2015

Meanwhile, Back At Home...

While the men were overseas proving themselves during the battles of World War I, what was happening back in Vancouver? As I have said before, there was a fair amount of mourning since the death toll was great but the citizens didn't let that stop them. They rolled up their sleeves to back up the fighting men.

Social life was non-existent except where it benefited the war effort. Red Cross work took up the time of Vancouver women - whether they were housewives or society women, they all lent a hand. Hundreds of businessmen drilled in the Horse Show Building with the Home Guard.

When the Georgia Street Viaduct was opened July 1, 1915, it was one continuous carnival, organized by the United Commercial Travellers to aid war efforts.

The careless happiness of the boom days was over and, at first, the strains of war intensified - rather than relieved - the depression. By April 1915, Vancouver considered itself "in a state of siege", with relief gangs working in the parks for $1a day, paid in groceries, and relief funds almost exhausted, a condition, which was temporarily relieved by a provincial grant.

South and West Vancouver were in financial problems. Assessments in the South dropped 20 percent to $37 million in a single year; only the wealthy Point Grey claimed to be in good shape. That was because there were fewer men on its relief and the majority of its residents were people of some substance.

For the first time in 22 years, the population of Greater Vancouver declined by 34,000 to an estimated 172,230. The opening of the Panama Canal was something we had looked forward to but it did little to increase the port's shipping. This was due to the lack of vessels in the Pacific.

However, the grain railway freight differential remained 20 per cent to 31 per cent above the rate on eastbound shipments from prairie points and largely cancelled out the drop in ocean traffic. Tax sales of forfeited land were general, buying the land instead of disposing it in a real estate market that didn't really exist.

Almost all news that winter was bad whether it was from the war front or the economic front. Businessman and community leader, R.H. Alexander and CPR executive, H.B. Abbott, died. On April 29, the Connaught (Cambie Street) Bridge was almost destroyed, and Granville Street Bridge was damaged lightly by simultaneous fires blamed on enemy sabotage. The Cambie Bridge went a long time before being repaired and it wasn't until mid-summer that people began to feel things were picking up.

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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