Canadians Suffer
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Canadians Suffer
Desperate times settle over Canada during the Great Depression

"I landed in Canada, a refugee from unemployment and want in England with the youthful naïve idea of finding work and prosperity in the new country ... It soon became apparent that here also there were no jobs and for a couple of days I hung around the CPR depot, dozing on benches." - Ron Liversedge

Read these indepth articles about
Canadians Suffer

Jobless Army
Thousands of young men roam the country in a desperate search for work during the Great Depression
The Dust Bowl
Prairie farmers suffer nature's wrath and economic crisis during the 1930s
Exploiting Hard Times
Sweatshops thrive but workers and the government fight back
No Place to Turn
Victims of the Depression get little help from the Canadian government
All That Jazz
Avant garde music provides escape from tough times
October 24, 1929 went down in history as "Black Thursday". On that day, stock prices plummeted on the New York Stock Exchange, creating a domino effect on world stock markets. It signaled the beginning of the Great Depression.

Canada was one of the hardest hit by the economic crisis. The country relied heavily on its exports. Pulp and paper, wood and wheat represented two-thirds of Canadian exports and accounted for much of the country's prosperity. With the onset of the global Depression, countries adopted protectionist measures to defend their own markets.

Jobless army
The crisis hit every economic sector in Canada including agriculture, industry, commerce and services. By 1933, three in ten Canadians were out of work. With few government assistance programs, thousands of men criss-crossed the country, looking for work, which didn't exist, and food and shelter, which was increasingly scarce.

Those with jobs were desperate to keep them. Textile mills took advantage cheap labour, and adult workers were replaced by girls as young as 15, who would do the job for about half of what the men earned.

The Dust Bowl
The Canadian prairies experienced some the toughest times. In the first three years of the Depression, the price of wheat tumbled from $1,23 a bushel to 29 cents in 1932. And in 1929, an unprecedented decade of drought set in on parts of the prairies. The once-lush fields dried up and the cropped burned in the sun

In 1937, the world economy began to straighten out even though the international markets were less active. In 1938-1939, industrial countries resumed their economic development but Canada remained behind the others. It would take Canada two more years to pull of the Great Depression. And this was at a high cost. By 1940, Canada transformed from an economy in crisis to an economy of war.

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Canadians Suffer

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Calls for Help

Calls for Help
Canadians turn to Ottawa for help during an economic crisis

Striking Back
Social unrest and new political visions emerge during the Great Depression

Rise of the Fascists
Hitler rises to power and draws Canada closer to another world war

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Richard Bedford Bennett Biography
National Library of Canada and National Archives of Canada

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