1920s Optimism

Unit 2 – 1920s Optimism
• In 1919, WW1 ended.
Canada has signed the
Treaty of Versailles as a
separate country Soldiers
began to return home.
• Canada was also a stronger
nation with more industry.
• Canada also became,
against USA wishes, a full
member of the League of
Nations. As a member,
Canada was (1) recognized
as a nation by other
countries and (2) gained a
larger role in world affairs.
Unit 2 – 1920s Optimism
The League of Nations
• The League of Nations was
formed at the end of WW1.
Its role was to prevent war.
It would do so by a
process of “collective
• Collective security means
all nations defend each
other. If one country
attacks a second country,
all the other countries will
defend the second country.
The power of many would
deter war.
Unit 2 – 1920s Optimism
Canada was full of optimism.
Canada was also moving away from
British rule.
• In 1922, Canada does not support
Great Britain in a conflict with
Turkey. Canada controls is own
foreign policy
• In 1923, Canada and USA negotiate
to a new coastal fishing treaty. It
is called the Halibut Treaty. Great
Britain does not represent Canada.
• In 1924, the Red Ensign replaces
the British Union Jack as Canada’s
Unit 2 – 1920s Optimism
Canadians invented or discovered many things.
• In 1921, Frederick Banting and Charles Best
discovered insulin. It was used to treat diabetes.
They were awarded a Nobel Prize for the
• The Sir Adam Beck No. 1 Generating Station…at
the time the world's largest… was opened in 1921
at Niagara Falls to provide electricity.
• In 1922, Mechanic Joseph-Armand Bombardier
built the first snowmobile
• In 1925, Arthur Sicard invented the first snowblower.
• In 1929, the first quick-frozen fish fillets was
introduced by Nova Scotian Archie Huntsman.
Unit 2 – 1920s Optimism
The role of women in Canada was also
• In 1920, Esther Marjorie Hill graduated
from the University of Toronto to become
Canada’s first woman architect.
• In 1921, Agnes Campbell Macphail
became the first woman elected as a
Member of Parliament (MP) to Canada’s
House of Commons. Macphail
campaigned for peace, civil liberties,
social reform and the cooperative
• In the 1928 Persons Case, the Supreme
Court of Canada unanimously decided
women were not "persons" who could
hold public office as Canadian Senators.
In 1929 the British Privy Council reversed
the decision, ruled women were legally
"persons" and could become Senators.
Unit 2 – 1920s Optimism
Canada was alive…
• Jobs in factories (…for men…) were
• Cities were growing in size.
• Entertainment included sports such as
hockey and football.
• Many people owned cars and many other
consumer items such as radios, natural
gas stoves, vaccum cleaners and washing
• Women were socially freer. Pop culture
was flapper. The dance was the
Charleston, and the music was Big Band
Unit 2 – 1920s Optimism
Could Canada keep growing?
Trade with the USA
• Canada’s biggest trading partner became
the USA. It was close, and many Americans
wanted to buy Canadian products.
• Americans could build many things cheaper
than Canada. To protect Canadian
companies, Canada introduced TARIFFS.
For example, a 35% tariff on a Americanbuilt car would mean Canadians paid an
additional $35. in tax for $100. spent on the
American-built car. Canadians were
“forced” to buy Canadian products
• Americans started to invest their money in
Canadian companies OR build branch
plants in Canada to avoid tariffs.
Unit 2 – 1920s Optimism
Could Canada keep growing?
As noted, people owned many big things such as cars. Most
of these things were bought ON CREDIT.
The STOCK MARKET was booming, and everyone wanted to
invest and buy shares in companies to make “easy money.”
Many small investors bought stocks ON MARGIN. This
means buying stocks with borrowed money. When the stock
rises in value, you pay back the loan and still make a profit.
Most of Canada’s industrial growth was in HIGH RISK AND
pulp and paper, mining).
As noted, TARIFFS reduced Canada’s international trade
while artificially supporting small Canadian companies.
By 1928, 60% of Canada’s trade was with the USA. In other
words, Canada was VERY DEPENDENT on the USA.
Canada’s economy was booming, and we were PRODUCING
Unit 2 – 1920s Optimism
• On 29 December 1929, the stock market
crashed. This day is called BLACK TUESDAY.
• Stock prices began to fall…and fall…and fall.
Between October 29 and November 13 (when
stock prices hit their lowest point), over $5
billion had disappeared from Canada’s
economy. About $30 billion was lost in the
USA in the same period.
• By 1935, stocks had lost over 50% of their
1929 value.
• Businesses closed, and Canada’s
unemployment reached almost 27% (…higher
in some provinces).
• Many families lost all their life savings.
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