67. 1930 The Great Depression

I was taught to bring my lunch bag home, and to eat what was on my plate, and to treat things carefully, and if i questioned any of these and assorted other similar practices, I would be reminded that during the depression one had to. It seemed unreasonable to me as there was no depression on at the time and it seemed very unlikely we would ever have to do without, as my parents did everything in their power so that we never would face such a reality. But my mother, who was a teen at the time of the depression, had lived it, and her memory of the time would not go away. I am a little older and a little more experienced now, and the concept is not so foreign, the pain of hunger and the humiliation of being very poor, is very hard to forget.

October 29,1929 started like most others days. Toronto Stock Exchange traders began their day as any other. However, as stock prices continued to plummet throughout the day, it finished with a never-before-heard, deafening, crash, announcing the arrival of “The Great Depression”. It was not like anything anyone had experienced before.  It did not really sink in for most people until 1931. It sent out a social and economic shock wave that left millions of people unemployed, hungry and often homeless. By 1933, 30% of the Canadian labour force were out of work, and one in five Canadians had become dependent upon government relief to stay alive. The decade reached its lowest point in 1937.  The unemployment rate would remain above 12% until the late 1930’s. And, as a grand final to the decade; Canada declared war on Germany, on September 1939, seven days after Britain and France, and the first Canadian troops left for England in December.

I know the above images don’t seem to go with the words, but, during this horrific period people would do what they could to  escape, albeit, perhaps, in mind, and so, a fairy tale to dream on…